Need a New Year’s resolution? Read the Bible in a year!

Some of you call me a Bible nerd, and I’m totally fine with that. I love the Bible with all its poetry and promises, stories and visions, frustrations, contradictions and deep weirdness; and I love how, when I read, I so often experience comfort or challenge, guidance or encouragement. This shouldn’t be surprising. We believe that God speaks through scripture, and that, in the words of an old hymn, ‘The Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from the Word.’ This love and this faith is why I read the Bible cover to cover every year: the good bits, the boring bits, and the bits I’d really rather avoid. In 2022, I invite you to join me!

I’m going to use a simple reading plan which will include four readings each day: one reading from a gospel, one from another New Testament writing, one from the Pentateuch and prophets, and one from the wisdom tradition (Psalms, Proverbs, Job etc.). The readings are sequential, by which I mean I’ll begin on 1 January with Matthew, Acts, Psalms and Genesis, and go all the way through each book before beginning the next. The writers of scripture assumed their readers were deeply familiar with other parts of scripture: and our readings are impoverished when we do not notice the echoes, contradictions, deletions and reinterpretations going on. So as I read, I’ll be listening for resonances between diverse parts of the Bible, as well as for God’s voice speaking into my life. Will you join me?

It takes about twenty minutes a day to read the Bible in a year. This might sound like a lot, until you consider that the average Australian spends 150 minutes a day watching TV – and these statistics don’t count YouTube, TikTok or other non-TV video content. Perhaps you have time, after all. It is also worth considering what texts you know by heart. If you can recite the plot of every Marvel movie but not Genesis, if you can sing a hundred pop songs but not the Psalms, then you are making a choice. What we learn by heart profoundly shapes us: and only one set of texts promises full and flourishing life. 

Of course, some of us genuinely don’t have time or energy. If this is you, consider whether you could commit to reading the gospel and wisdom stream, or even just the gospel stream, and leave the other readings for another year.

The reading plan will cover 25 days per month, giving you a day off each week – or a day to catch up. If you finish the suggested readings before the end of the month, you can take a little break … or go back to a reading which intrigued you, and reflect on it once again.

As you read, I suggest you keep a simple journal, using words or drawings to record your observations and prayers. Then, when your reading experience becomes dry (as it will), you can go back to your journal and remember a moment of insight, a sense of challenge, that tear you shed: and be encouraged to persevere.

I would also set up a WhatsApp group or similar where we can share insights, encourage one another, pray for one another, be accountable to one another, and ask questions. I won’t be providing study notes, but I will be happy to share what I know and look up what I don’t know when questions arise.

Finally, I’d suggest that we meet from time to time, say quarterly or monthly, to talk about what we’re observing (in the Word and in ourselves), and to celebrate what we’ve achieved so far.

So, are you up for the challenge? Will you join me as I read through the Bible in 2022? I’d love to have a companion or two!


PS – There will be no app. Unless you are willing to search four different passages online every day, you will need access to a Bible, and four bookmarks. If you don’t have a hard copy Bible, let me know and I can give you one. Also bookmarks 🙂

Emailed to Sanctuary 8 December 2021 © Sanctuary, 2021. Bible reading plan from NavPress here. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

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