Reading the Bible cover to cover is an important goal for many Christians. The Bible is God’s Word and contains everything we need for life and godliness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Reading the entire Bible helps you gain a big-picture view of God’s story and allows you to encounter each book in its proper context.
But the Bible is a big book – 1,189 chapters and 31,102 verses – so reading it cover to cover is no small feat! How long does it really take? Here are some key takeaways:
- Reading the Bible at a pace of 15 minutes per day takes approximately 1 year. This is a common goal.
- Reading 1 chapter of the Bible per day takes about 1.25 years to finish.
- Reading 3 chapters per day allows you to read the entire Bible in 1 year.
- Reading 10 chapters a day allows you to read the whole Bible in 3 months.
- The average reader reads at 200-400 words per minute, meaning the 1.2 million word Bible takes 50-100 hours to read.
- Having a plan, setting a schedule, and sticking to it are important to maintaining a cover-to-cover reading habit. Don’t get discouraged!
The amount of time it takes you to read the Bible cover to cover depends on your reading speed and how much time you devote to reading each day. But with some commitment and consistency, it is an achievable goal for most people.
Calculate Your Reading Plan
The first step is to estimate your reading speed. Here is a simple test:
Time yourself reading this passage for 1 minute. Count the number of words you read:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 NKJV)
The passage contains 98 words. If you read 80 words per minute, you could read the entire Bible’s roughly 800,000 words in 10,000 minutes, or 167 hours. At 15 minutes per day, it will take you around 11 months.
Use this formula to calculate your reading plan:
Total Bible words / Your reading speed in words/minute / Minutes you read per day = Days to finish
So for example:
800,000 words / 250 wpm / 15 minutes = 111 days
You can adjust the different variables in the formula to arrive at a reading plan that fits your schedule.
Tips for Sticking to Your Reading Plan
Once you’ve decided on a Bible reading pace, here are some tips to help you stick to your plan:
- Set reminders to keep yourself accountable to the daily reading goal. You can use a calendar app or set an alarm.
- Read at the same time each day, such as first thing in the morning to start your day with God’s Word. This will help create a habit.
- Team up with a friend and discuss what you’re reading to keep each other motivated.
- Use a Bible reading plan that breaks up the Bible into daily portions so you don’t have to figure out what to read each day. Download a plan or get a printed checklist.
- Mix up reading methods – audio Bible, print, digital, etc. Variety keeps reading fresh.
- Pray before you read and ask God to speak to you through His Word and give you understanding. Approach Bible reading with an open heart and mind.
- Take good notes using a journal, online tool, or app. Writing things down will help you remember key passages and insights.
- Only read as much as you can comprehend – it’s quality over quantity. Re-reading passages is better than speeding through without understanding.
Stick with your reading plan and before you know it you’ll have read through the entire Bible! It takes discipline but the rewards are life-changing.
Common Bible Reading Plans
Here are some common Bible reading plans that allow you to read the entire Bible in 1 year:
Read 1 Chapter a Day
- Reading just 1 chapter each day (about 20 minutes) will get you through the entire Bible in about 1.25 years.
- On average, the Bible contains 31,102 total verses, divided into 1,189 chapters, so this comes out to about 26 verses per day.
- This is a very manageable amount of daily reading. Try to read at the same time each day.
Read 3 Chapters a Day
- Reading 3 chapters per day will allow you to read the entire Bible in about 1 year.
- This comes out to about 78 verses per day or 60 minutes of reading time.
- You could split this up into morning and evening readings for 30 minutes each session.
Read 10 Chapters a Day
- For an intense 3-month Bible reading plan, read 10 chapters per day.
- This will require about 3-4 hours of reading time each day.
- You could break it down into 1-hour increments morning, midday, afternoon, and night.
Read 15 Minutes a Day
- If you read the Bible for just 15 minutes a day, you can read through the entire Bible in about 1 year.
- This allows time to not just read but also pause, reflect, pray, and take notes.
- Depending on your reading speed, you will cover 1-3 chapters daily.
- Many devotionals and reading plans are designed for a 15 minute time frame. This is very achievable!
Read 1 Book a Month
- There are 66 books of the Bible. If you read 1 book per month, you can read the entire Bible in 66 months (about 5.5 years).
- This comes out to reading just 2-3 chapters per day for most shorter books.
- Read larger books like Psalms and Isaiah over the course of 1-2 months.
No matter what reading plan you choose, the key is persevering day after day. Our lives are busy, so give yourself grace if you miss days occasionally. Just get back on track so you reach your goal of reading through the entire Bible!
The reward of knowing Scripture more deeply is worth the effort. God promises His Word will not return empty but will accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:11). You will grow closer to Jesus and be equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Let’s dive in to God’s Word together!
Tips for Comprehension and Retention
Simply reading through the Bible quickly is not enough – you want to understand what you’re reading and retain it. Here are some tips:
- Look up words and concepts you don’t understand. Use a Bible dictionary or online resource.
- Read multiple translations for different perspectives. Comparing translations can bring clarity.
- Learn the historical context of each book using Bible introductions or commentaries. Understanding the background will illuminate your reading.
- Read slowly and pause frequently to reflect and pray over what you’ve read. Ask God for insight.
- Take notes and write down questions that come to mind. Review your notes later.
- Summarize key passages in your own words. Retelling what you learned cements it in your memory.
- Memorize key verses. Scripture memory is a powerful spiritual discipline with lifelong benefits.
- Immediately apply what you read. Ask yourself, “How should this change my attitudes and actions today?”
- Share what you’re learning with others. Discussing the Bible with Christian community reinforces what you’ve read.
- Review and reflect on your reading often. The goal is not just to read, but to remember and live out God’s Word.
With regular review and reflection, you will retain what you read, connect it to your life, and live it out in obedience to Christ. Approach Bible reading not as a box to check off but as true nourishment for your soul.
The Benefits of Reading the Entire Bible
There are many blessings and benefits that come from reading the Bible from cover to cover:
You gain the big picture of God’s story. Reading the entire Bible allows you to see the unity of the Scriptures as God’s redemptive plan unfolds from Genesis to Revelation. You will understand how the Old and New Testament relate.
Your understanding builds precept upon precept. As you read book after book, you will grow in biblical knowledge, wisdom, and discernment. Later passages will build upon what you’ve already read.
You encounter each book in its proper context. Instead of reading books out of order, you will learn each book’s unique emphasis and appreciate why God placed it in the Bible.
You are exposed to a variety of writing styles and genres. God chose to inspire many types of biblical literature. When you read the entire Bible you experience Psalms, poetry, prophecy, history, letters, and more.
You will be familiar with every book of the Bible. Many Christians have little knowledge of lesser known books like Habakkuk or Nahum. Reading it all will give you a working knowledge of all 66 books.
You will meet and know all the key Bible characters. By meeting figures like Abraham, Moses, David, Joshua, Ruth and many more in the pages of Scripture, you will have a rich understanding of their stories and interactions with God.
You will develop your own theology, rather than inheriting only the passages your church emphasizes. You can trace teachings on topics like grace, law, heaven, justice, worship and many more themes throughout the Bible.
You will encounter the fullness of who God is. God reveals His many-faceted nature throughout Scripture. Seeing the breadth of His attributes revealed builds your knowledge of who He is.
It leads to spiritual maturity and discernment. Regular Bible reading transforms your mind and renews your thoughts to align with God’s truth. You will be able to discern truth from error and handle Scripture correctly (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Make reading through the entire Bible at least once in your lifetime a priority. It will enrich your walk with Christ in ways that nothing else can replace. Your commitment will be rewarded many times over.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I read the Bible in order from Genesis to Revelation?
Reading the books of the Bible in order from start to finish is ideal for getting the full sweep of God’s story. However, don’t be afraid to also mix it up or read specific books that draw your interest. Set a plan to eventually get through the entire Bible in order, but feel free to dive into various books as you feel led.
How do I make time for daily Bible reading?
Set a daily alarm reminding you to read. Schedule a standing appointment in your calendar. Replace screen time with Scripture reading. Wake up 15-30 minutes earlier to start your day reading God’s Word. Listen to audio Bible on your commute. Look for small pockets of time throughout your day that can be dedicated to Bible intake. Ask God to help you find and make the time!
What’s the best Bible translation to read from cover to cover?
There is no single “best” translation. Popular options for extended reading include ESV, NIV, NKJV, NLT and CSB. Compare samples of each and choose the one that’s most readable for you. Having a study Bible or reading alongside a commentary can also be helpful for comprehension.
What if I fall behind on my reading plan?
First, don’t be discouraged! Put your plan on pause, then start back a few days prior to get caught up. If you fall far behind, you may need to adjust your plan by reducing chapters/day so it’s manageable. The key is persevering over time, even if you have setbacks. Don’t give up!
Should I take notes as I read?
Taking simple notes and jotting down meaningful passages or insights is very beneficial. You don’t need extensive notes on each chapter, but writing things down will help you process, apply and remember what you read. Review your notes to reinforce what you learned.
How do I stay motivated to keep reading daily?
Read consistently at the same time and place. Set reminders on your phone, calendar or use a printed checklist. Find an accountability partner who will encourage you. Focus on the blessings of meeting with God in His Word. Pray and ask God to give you motivation when you struggle.
I hope these tips help you develop a plan for reading through the Bible cover to cover! Though it takes commitment, the spiritual growth and understanding you will gain makes it incredibly worthwhile. Set a goal and start today – you can do it, with God’s help!