Saturday, December 7, 2019

Is a Bible Reading Plan for You in 2020?

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

In my senior year at seminary, I had an epiphany. I was getting my Masters in Theology so that I could teach the Bible, yet I had never read it thru from cover to cover. I had grown up in church and gone to countless Bible studies so I knew most, if not all of the Bible. However, I’d never systematically read it in its entirety.

Now, was that a whopping big deal? Probably not. God wasn’t going to meet me at His pearly gates and ask how much of His book I’d read.

Why had I never read the entire Bible?

Reason #1 It’s long. I mean Shakespeare long. (It is sixty-six books after all.)

At the beginning of each session in school, I always went through an experience common to all students, syllabus shock. That is when you look at all the requirements of the class and the size of the textbook and think there is no way you’ll be able to do it all. And every session, I learned that by having a system doing a little at a time, the syllabus got done.

Which is why making reading the Bible through in a year as a goal is a good idea. It breaks the big book into manageable sized chunks. My reading sessions generally ran from twenty to thirty minutes.

Reason #2 Some of the Bible seemed boring, archaic, or hard to understand.

I have to admit, I had tried to read the Bible through before. I made it to Leviticus before I got bogged down in all the laws and regulations and quit.

For my first successful attempt, I used the One Year Bible in NIV. It breaks the daily reading into passages from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Psalms. That helped me get through the hard parts and let me divide the reading into a morning portion and an evening.

After completing the Bible, I learned that some parts that I was afraid of were not that earth shattering. There are still parts I don’t understand, but I found more places with teaching that I could apply today.

Reason #3 What if I found something that went against what I believed?

I’d already read in the Bible how to style my hair (Ezekiel 44:20), how to wear my tassels (?) (Dt. 22:12), and what types of meat I’m supposed to eat (Lev. 11). What if there was something in the fine print that went against what I’d been taught?

First, I don’t worship a church or a denomination. I worship a real, knowable God. And He has given us His word, written and translated by men, so that we may know Him.

I love my church. But it’s because of God’s sharing His love through His people, not because they chose the biblical teachings they liked and hid the ones they didn’t.

Second, God does not want his children, me, us, to live in ignorance, in darkness. (Isn’t it great to be able to say you’re  God’s child?)

He wants us to know Him totally, in all His love, wisdom, power, and holiness. There is nothing He has to hide behind a curtain (Wizard of Oz and Luke 23:45).

Some Extra Tips

My goal was to read the Bible through every other year. That gave me a year where I could do more intense Bible studies as I saw appropriate.

Find a translation you like. I liked reading in different translations. It threw off memorizing but it often gave a different perspective on the scenes and stories. The biggest surprise to me was how similar the different translations are.

I would suggest not using a study Bible the first time, but to read through for plot and characters. (Sounds familiar?) You can write any questions you have in a journal that you can refer back to. I also liked to summarize what I read in the journal.

Give yourself grace. If you miss a day or two, it’s okay. Just read a little additional when you have time. If it takes you fourteen or fifteen months, that’s okay. You still completed your goal.


Reading your Bible in its entirety will not bring you salvation or even necessarily make you a better person. It’s not an end in itself. You have to take what you learn to heart and act upon it to know God better.

Since I made my goal in 1994, I’ve read the Bible 13 times. I’m thinking about not doing it again this coming year. Instead, I’ve started in 2020.

I want you to consider whether this is the year you want to set a Bible reading plan. Some other options are to read just the New Testament or read the Bible in two years.

I am glad I chose to read the Bible through and set a goal. It does require planning. Sticking it out helped me find connections I wouldn’t have necessarily seen otherwise.

It also helped me know my Savior better. And that was my most important goal.

Is a Bible Reading Plan for You in 2020 - thoughts from @TimSuddeth on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Tim Suddeth is a stay-at-home dad and butler for his wonderful, adult son with autism. He has written numerous blogs posts, short stories, and three novels waiting for publication. He is a frequent attendee at writers’ conferences, including the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and a member of Word Weavers and ACFW. He lives near Greenville, SC where he shares a house with a bossy Shorky and three too-curious Persians. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at


  1. I love this post. Wish you would have mentioned some other plans too. I've read the One Year Bible, and it is very good. Also the Chronological Bible which is very interesting.
    I've seen some (secular) reading plans that urge you to read 52 books per year - one a week. If I read the Bible through, I will have read 66 BOOKS! Haha. I think I'll use a plan that goes through the New Testament this year, since I'm teaching my SS kids about the life of Jesus and beyond.
    Thanks for the reminder to get prepared now (and maybe even get a head start!)

  2. I've read through the Chronological Bible for the past 14 years. I love that it puts things in context. The Psalms are placed at the time they were written, Samuel, Chronicles and Kings, the same thing. And I love reading the Gospels chronologically seeing the same scene through different eyes.

  3. Love this!! After reading through the Bible in a year many times, I decided in January 2017 to read it through SLOWLY. One chapter each day. Time to dig in to what it is saying. Time to not skip the challenging, tedious, or painful parts and rush back to safe ground. Time to ask God in prayer what He wants me to glean rather than leaning so heavily on theological expert opinions. After almost three years, I am wrapping up Ezekiel and can say with confidence and awe that Jesus waits at the heart of every single chapter thus far! Blessings, Felicia