How You Can Absolutely Read the Bible 2x in 1 Year (Ultimate Guide)
I’ll lay out the steps to comfortably read the entire Bible in less than 150 days in this case study. I know you want to. I know you’ve started and stopped (like me) more times than Leviticus has rules. And now you think it’s impossible or at least way too hard. Or maybe it’s just for people more holy than you.
Stop that nonsense!
I was a 53-year-old Christian and never read the Bible from beginning to end. That admission is embarrassing. I tried many times but always got bogged down somewhere between Deuteronomy and 2 Samuel.
Why Did I Fail?
In this case study, I’ll give you:
- a unique plan
- a definitive strategy
- a few simple hacks
- a way to track your progress.
This plan builds a habit you don’t want to break, and you might read the entire Bible in less than 150 days. To encourage you, I read the Bible in 107 days. 150 will be a cakewalk for you if you use this system.
I’ll also give you a bonus hack, but I don’t want you to use it.
Are you ready to get started?
Strategies for Reading Through the Bible in 150 Days or Less
I didn’t have all of these strategies when I started reading the Bible every day. Through trial and error, I adopted a few along the way. My pain is your gain.
Make a SMART Goal to Read the Entire Bible
SMART goals are not fuzzy. Fuzzy goals are daydreams pulled along by a wet noodle. You inch forward, but at the first setback, the noodle snaps, and your goal evaporates like steam from a pasta pot. You need more than a wet noodle.
Working through your SMART goal helps determine your WHY and decide if your WHY is worthy and enduring.
Measure twice, cut once and be among the 8% of people who accomplish their goals.
I’ll work through my SMART goal of reading the entire Bible.
Goal: I will read the entire Bible in 150 days or less because every Christian should.
What was I going to read? The entire Bible. Not just the Old Testament or just the New Testament. I planned to read the whole Bible.
How long would it take? 150 days or less.
Why? Because I should.
My goal was specific. It answered What, When, and Why.
How did I come up with 150 days? Was 150 a random figure? No, I measured to determine the number. My old duct-taped Bible is a small print version with 1042 pages and no study notes.
- I timed myself at 4.5 minutes per page
- 1042 pages x 4.5 minutes per page = 4689 minutes
- 4689/30 minutes a day = 156.3 days
I rounded down to 150 to push myself. I’m a slow reader, which is encouraging news to you. You’ll probably smash your 150-day goal.
It’s positively attainable if I’m breathing and follow the plan. Just read. Every day.
Relevant means your goal aligns with your values and long-term objectives. I’m a Christian; therefore, I should read the entire Bible. If you’re not a Christian but consider yourself an open-minded intellectual, why not read it at least once? After all, it’s the best-selling book of all time, having sold 5 billion copies according to the Guinness Book of World Records. You should see what all the fuss is about for yourself.
Set a realistic end date. But push yourself a bit. Although math told me 156 days, I shot for 150.
Shark Tank star, Robert Herjavec, said,
“A goal without a deadline is just a dream.”
And without a deadline pushing you along, your warm, comfortable bed wins the battle too many mornings until you get frustrated and quit. Yes, you must get up early to read. More on that later.
That was my SMART goal for reading the Bible. It was specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Develop your Consistency Superpower
Consistency is a superpower. You can accomplish almost any goal if you’re willing to stick with it and apply consistent, daily effort.
Unfortunately, my most consistent trait has been inconsistency — the hallmark of my life. Unless you mean sleeping until the very last minute, eating poorly, and binging Netflix — I was a master of consistency in these activities. But sticking with something good for me, well, just forget it.
Then in 2020, things started to change. Yes, something good did come out of that weird and wacky year. I enrolled in a live streaming 75-hour real estate licensing course taught over six consecutive weekends. The course came with an 800-page textbook and a massive workbook I now use as a boat anchor.
Didn’t I already say I’m a slow reader?
Every day, before work and after work, I dedicated time to reading the textbook, studying the vocabulary, and taking practice exams.
The course forced consistency upon me. It was do or die — fail and I lose six weeks of my life, $300, and another six weeks in the future to retake the course. I used a principle called the Slight Edge from a book by Jeff Olson. It’s about how slight, consistent, positive efforts yield tremendous long-term results. Taken from its Amazon page,
“The Slight Edge shows you how to create powerful results from the simple daily activities of your life by using tools already within you.”
I passed the school and state exams and then slight-edged the required 90 hours of post-licensing courses online over the next 18 months.
When I decided to read the entire Bible in February 2021, I finally had the confidence to know I could stick with something, and more importantly, I liked the feeling. Finally, I had the beginnings of a plan — the Slight Edge was the foundation.
That’s my history on the topic of consistency. I want you to know my background because I’m not here as someone who’s had it together my whole life. But I read through the Bible in less than 150 days and so can you.
The habit of consistency is like a slow-moving, unstoppable freight train. The train marches powerfully on, mile after mile after mile, until reaching the destination with its cargo. Consistency is the train carrying your cargo (goals and dreams). And the slight edge philosophy is the fuel for the train.
Do the thing and have the power.
Set Yourself Up for Success
You’ll be successful if you plan for it. An engineer builds a rocket from a set of plans. The process isn’t random. I’ll show you how to set yourself up for success and make this project more painless than you think. We convince ourselves that reading the entire Bible is too hard, so we never start. But as the philosopher, Seneca once wrote,
“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”
Here are real strategies to combat your overactive imagination.
Timing Is Everything
Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you usually wake up. I know that sounds painful, but I promise you that it’s the key to your success. Don’t start until you’re prepared to make this commitment. Read before your day begins. You can’t deceive yourself into thinking you’ll read the Bible later in the day. You must do it before the wheels of your machine start turning and suck you under it. Unexpected things come up all the time.
“Doesn’t expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected?” Bob Dylan
For 295 days in a row, I read the Bible for at least 30 minutes. Then on the cold winter morning of day 296, my warm bed whispered sweet nothings in my ear, convincing me to sleep late and read the Bible later in the day. The wheels of the machine spun wildly out of control that day, trampling me underfoot, and I didn’t remember until 1:42 am the following day. Consistency woke me up screaming a Bob Dylan tune in my ear.
Plan for the unexpected by eliminating it from the equation. How many unexpected things happen before you wake up?
Wake Up (Which is more than just getting out of bed)
Take a shower first. An ice bath if you want, but that’s not part of my strategy. A shower wakes you up and prepares your mind so that you’re not nodding off in Numbers. If coffee is standard protocol and you’re not fully human until you’ve drunk a cup, by all means, go ahead. Diet Dr. Pepper is my go-to morning perk-me-up.
Your Online Life Can Wait Until You Read the Bible
Don’t check email, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, or anything else on any screen. No one knows you’re up yet. Yes, go ahead and make sure your college kids didn’t text in the middle of the night needing bail money, but that’s it.
Don’t self-sabotage by creating distractions.
Create a Pleasant Environment
The goal of reading through the Bible might be the most audacious thing you’ve ever done on purpose. You have to read somewhere for 75 hours over the next 150 days. Create a delightful place, a spot you’ll enjoy. You’re worth it, and this project is worth it. Choose a location away from any main thoroughfares in your house if you live with other early risers. Even a tiny corner is fine, but tidy it up. Make it neat and pleasant — light a candle. You’ll soon associate your special spot with reading the Bible and look forward to your time there in the mornings.
Avoid the Study Notes in the Bible
“Heresy!” you yell. But what’s your goal? It’s “read through the Bible in 150 days,” not “study through the Bible in 150 days.” That’s why you make a SMART goal. You’ll never get through the Bible in 150 days if you read the study notes. We failed by January 10th every other year because of the study notes.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t study the Bible. You should. Just not in this highly focused, set apart 30 minutes. Highlight parts you want to come back and study later. Put sticky notes on the pages. When you return later, make notes in your Bible. These notes will be gold to you years down the road.
God Doesn’t Speak in King James
This step is mission-critical for your success. Choose a Bible version that’s easy to read and understand. I read the New Living Translation (NLT) because it’s written in plain language.
A word of caution — read a version that correctly depicts God’s intended meaning and not a man’s biased interpretation. For this reason, I can’t recommend The Passion Translation or The Message. I’m not going into the specifics here, but check out these articles from GotQuestions.org. It’s a site I trust, and I agree with its conclusions.
How to Track and Measure Your Progress
“Make measurable progress in reasonable time.” Jim Rohn
You’re going to read 30 minutes every day. I did the math under the SMART goal section and explained how 150 days is reasonable even at my snail’s pace of 7 pages a day. The power isn’t in what you accomplish in one day or even two.
The power is in the seven pages a day, every single day you read.
At the end of your second week, your bookmark will be on page 100. One month in, you’re on page 200. And congratulations! You made it through the first six books of the Old Testament. By now, you’re getting pumped about the pages piling up behind you. My motivational mojo got ramped up at about this point and I started logging evening sessions in addition to the mornings. I recorded 166 reading sessions which helped me finish in 107 days.
But you don’t have to work overtime. Just stick to the steady 30 minutes every morning and you’ll cross the finish line in 150 days or less.
- Write the date above the chapter in your Bible when you begin each morning.
- Stop at the end of a page or the top of the next page. If you stop anywhere else, only count the page if you read most of it. If not, count it the next day.
- Track your time with your phone’s stopwatch.
- Use a spreadsheet or Google Sheet to record the following information:
- Time started
- Time ended
- Number of minutes read
- Number of pages read
This data in a spreadsheet allows you to calculate some cool things:
- Average pages read per day
- Average pages per minute or hour
- Average amount of time reading per day
- Average time you start reading in the morning
This analytical stuff excites me, maybe not you, but at the very least, record all this information in a notebook.
If consistency is your train and the slight edge is the fuel, then tracking/measuring is your power-boosting, supercharging fuel additive. It gives you motivational traction.
An Advanced Hack to Read Through the Bible (but don’t do it!)
I hesitate to include this last strategy because I don’t want you to do it on your first run through the Bible. I used this hack on my third time through. I’ll explain what it is and then argue against it.
The You Version Bible app reads to you, and you can set the reading speed to higher than the normal rate. You still follow along in your real Bible, dating and counting those pages, just like usual, but the app’s faster reading rate pulls you forward. I settled on a rate of 1.4x, and my pages per hour exploded from 14 to 25. But I didn’t lose any comprehension because I followed along in my real Bible, highlighting key verses. Now I watch all YouTube videos and listen to Audible books at 1.4x or higher.
So, why would I discourage you from using the Bible app?
First, I had the advantage of recent familiarity with the material before I used this audio hack. I started using the Bible app on day 288 after reading through it twice with no breaks. This familiarity made the audio hack effective for me — something you need before using it.
Second, your attention will drift when the austere-sounding British man reads in his melodic cadence. I’ve caught myself drifting many times, and I’ll stop the app, and go back to read what I missed. Don’t miss any words on your first successful journey through the Bible. The point is to read the Bible, not pretend to read it. You might as well stay in bed.
Life-changing Benefits from Reading the Entire Bible
I get worn out with marketers and bloggers using the cliche “life-changing.” When Amazon delivers a package to my door at 6:30 am that I had ordered in bed a few hours before — friends, that’s life-changing.
It changes how I do life.
I don’t waste time driving to four stores to hunt down an obscure 100% organic, no sugar added, fish sauce.
So, while I’m extra-protective about using the term “life-changing,” I can pull it out here. The Bible doesn’t need my help to be life-changing, but we have to read it to know what it says.
Seven Benefits to Reading the Entire Bible
- You capture a vast expanse of the story quickly, which makes the big picture easier to see.
- You glean more about the character of God and connect the dots of His faithfulness in history. Highlight every time God mentions justice for the poor, widows, and orphans.
- You learn the history. Many people avoid the Old Testament, but that is a mistake. Saint Augustine is credited with saying, “The Old Testament is the New Testament Concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament Revealed.” Understanding the OT makes the NT so much richer and more meaningful.
- You learn by reading the entire text to stop taking Scriptures out of context.
- You become more aware of how much God loves you.
- You gain confidence you’ve never had.
- You acquire the superpower of consistency which you can apply to any goal or dream you have.
My Final Stats on Reading Through the Bible
Now that you have a comprehensive strategy, you can read the entire Bible in 150 days or less. Make a SMART goal, develop your consistency superpower, create an environment for success, and track your progress. These techniques will work together to create a system you can use to accomplish any goal, and one of the highest goals with the greatest benefits is to read the entire Bible.
The system works if you work the system.
Do the thing, have the power.
Good luck, and let me know how you’re doing in the comments.