Regardless of how long you have been a Christian, the task of reading through the entire Bible can feel daunting. 66 books. Hundreds of chapters. Dozens of authors. Narratives. Rules. Genealogy. Prophecy. Songs. Nonetheless, this is our Lord’s word we’re talking about here! As Christians, we need all of God that we can get, and His words to us are the best place to start.
During my eighteenth year of being a Christian, it dawned on me that I had not actually read the entire Bible. Ever. That day, I made up my mind that I would read the entire Bible before doing any other major bible study or writing.
With a history of failed attempts at starting a one-year reading plan in January, only to abandon the effort in the April-May timeframe when the reading became difficult and I fell behind, I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures.
Being a serious over-achiever who wants to tackle deeper studying and writing, I decided that I would read the entire Bible chronologically in 90 days. Sounds aggressive, right? It is! I rationed with myself: if I can sit and binge watch hours of Star Trek episodes, surely I could binge read the bible for 30-45 minutes a day. How hard could it be?
97 days later (life happened a few times) I made it through the entire Bible!
Are you wondering if it was worth it? All I can say is a resounding YES.
A surprise outcome of binge reading the Bible is that I have finally (after 18 years) developed a daily habit of reading the Bible. I look forward to it. I yearn for it. I need it. And now that I’ve switched to a 365-day chronological plan, it’s very manageable to “have breakfast with Jesus” every single day. I love it!
Are you considering the challenge? Allow me to share my experiences, observations, and tips with you to help you decide if you are ready.
Benefits of Binge-Reading the Bible
Chronological for continuity
If you are one of those people (like me) who must view your Facebook feed in “most recent” mode, you will definitely want to choose a chronological reading plan. I printed out and used this plan by Dusty Road; there are additional options available online. What I liked about the Dusty Road plan (besides that is was free!) is that it does not include dates – that is, it doesn’t start on January 1. Therefore, you can start your 90-day journey whenever you want to! (With all that said, I started on January 1. LOL.)
The most significant benefit of reading the Bible in chronological order is that you get to experience the entire story unfold in a continuous timeline—starting with “In the beginning” all the way through to “Yes, I am coming soon.”
A surprise that I experienced is that by the time I got to the gospels chronologically, I was ecstatic! Through the Old Testament, the pattern of God’s people turning away from Him over and over and over again was really getting to me. I thought “How could God’s people keep turning away from Him as they did?” I saddened when I realized that on a small scale, I am no better or different than the Israelites—except for one thing—I have Jesus! Jesus is the ultimate “happy ending” to the greatest love story ever told.
Bird’s Eye View
As a natural by-product of reading large sections each day, you get to experience the recency effect. That means, there is not a large time gap between reading Genesis and Exodus and reading the Gospels. You will recognize and remember passages you have read since it was only a few weeks ago for most examples. I loved how many times I had one of those “I just read that!” connections to something in the Old Testament, especially once I started reading the Gospels and Epistles.
Read for context
A 90-day reading schedule is not intended to be a deep study. Rather, it is meant to give you the full context of God’s Word and his story of redemption. Before I tackled the 90-day plan, I was pretty gung-ho about doing some deep inductive studying, complete with Greek and Hebrew dictionaries. However, I felt like I was missing a roadmap to guide my deep dive studies. Read the Bible in 90 days provided that roadmap, setting me up to later deep-dive into individual books and passages. I believe that I can now conduct a more effective study of any passage knowing how it fits into the big picture.
Find the red thread
No matter what book you read, you can find Jesus (isn’t there a song about that?) It’s revelatory to read a passage that either 1) Jesus used in his teaching, or that 2) was used to prophesy about Jesus, or that 3) poignantly illustrates why we need Jesus so very desperately. For example, let’s talk about animal sacrifice (ugh). Many of the passages in Leviticus that detail the regulations for animal sacrifice are difficult to get through. This thought dominated my reading of Leviticus: I am so glad that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice did away with the need for all this animal sacrifice! Phew!
You can do it!
Are you considering a “binge read” of the Bible? If yes, here’s some parting advice:
- Make up your mind to do this – it’s this commitment that will give you strength on the tough days
- Select a translation that is easy for you to read – I used the New International Version (NIV) translation. You could consider the English Standard Version (ESV) or the New American Standard Bible (NASB) if you want a translation that more literally aligns to the original text. If you think you would do better with a translation written for readability, the New Living Translation (NLT) or The Message are also great choices. There are many other great translations available in English and other languages. Visit biblegateway.com to explore your options.
- Pick a time that works for you – maybe you can’t read all the chapters in one sitting. That’s OK! Read whenever you can give God your full attention.
- Pray each day before you begin – ask God to illuminate his word to you.
- Write down your questions for deeper study – I guarantee you’ll discover many topics you want to research and study at a later point.
- Tell a friend about your plans to read the Bible – you’re not bragging, you’re inviting your friends to encourage you and hold you accountable.
- Understand that life happens – give yourself grace and keep working towards your goal, even if you miss a day. So what if it takes you 100 or 200 days instead of 90? You still will have read the entire Bible!