Here is the ultimate guide to the better Bible reading plans

Select one of these Bible reading plans for your growth goal

You plan to grow in your love for the Lord and His word, but maybe you’re just getting started and don’t want to take on too much? It could be that your existing Bible reading plan is getting old, or you’ve finished one plan and are ready to choose another. Perhaps you’re designing a growth goal and need a reading plan to help you? When it comes to Bible reading plans, there are an almost limitless series of options available. What follows below isn’t every plan available, but it is the ultimate guide to the better Bible reading plans out there.

Find your ideal bible reading plan

All of the Bible reading plans below are provided in PDF format. I recommend that you print off the PDF and store it in your Bible, so you can refer to it as you read. If you’d rather read on your Tablet or phone, you might want to consider some of these plans which work in YouVersion. Of course, you can also use apps like Logos Bible Software to create a tailor-made plan.

At the end of each section I’ve listed each plan in that section with a link to the PDF for quick access.

Introductory Reading Plans

If you’re just starting out, you probably want to ease your way into a reading plan. Since you want to be successful, it will be important to keep your goal achievable, so rather than focusing on how much you want to read, I encourage you to focus on how much time you can put aside for reading and fit your reading into that time, increasing it as you become consistent. Try one of these plans if you want something small and achievable.

Some of the Bible

For many, it might be better just to get to grips with a part of the Bible or even get an overview of the Bible in a year without reading everything.

1. 60/90 Day Bible Overview

What about an outline of the Bible without reading all of it? This plan will provide an overview in 60 days without having to read all of the Bible. It varies between a few verses and a few chapters a day. Alternatively, try it with a little more depth in 90 days.

2. 61 Day Bible Survey

If you want to get an overview of the entire Bible in a short time, this plan will take you through the key passages of every book in the Bible in just 61 days. This is helpful to get an overview, though it requires a little more reading each day, it only lasts two months. You can download my simple PDF of this plan here.

3. 121 Days through Bible Characters

If you want a “who’s who” of the Bible, this plan provides it in just 121 days (4 months). I’ve created a simple PDF for this plan here.

4. Legacy Reading Plan

You can also pick a book of the Bible each month and focus on reading that. Here is a guide called the Legacy reading plan that will allow you to read all the Bible in a year concentrating on a number of books per month, but you could just pick one per month and work through it over 66 months.

5. New Testament in a Year

If you want to focus on just the New Testament, this guide breaks it into a full year and gives you the weekend off (or an opportunity to catch up). Similarly, the Navigator’s 5x5x5 plan takes you through the New Testament in a year five days a week, 5-minutes a day, and offers you five ways to dig deeper.

6. Old Testament (or part of it) in a Year

If you just want to read the Old Testament and get some help along the way, I suggest you download my Old Testament Reading Assistants. They don’t require a set amount of reading but are helpful guides as you read. You can read from each section of the Old Testament (History or Wisdom books or the Prophets), or just from one section at a time.

Read through the Bible Slowly

1. The 2 Year Plan

To go through the Bible entirely, you might want to try a 2-year plan. This plan takes you through the New Testament and Psalms twice and the rest of the Bible once in 2 years.

2. Shirkers and Slackers

If you don’t want to commit to a timeframe, but you want to read through the entire Bible, try the Shirkers and Slackers plan. This is a through-the-Bible plan that concentrates on a different theme on each day of the week (e.g. Psalms on Monday, History on Tues/Wed, etc). The reason it’s called the Shirkers and Slackers plan is that it has no dates, meaning you can read ahead without being tied to a calendar.

3. Old Testament Reading Assistants + 1 chapter of the New Testament

I also offer my Old Testament reading assistants. They list the number of chapters for each section of the Old Testament but leave you to select how many chapters you read per day. If you add a chapter from the New Testament, you’ll also read the New Testament through twice. These three PDF’s are designed to be folded up and used as bookmarks; what’s more, they have lots of other useful information on them.

If you’d prefer to pick and chose, you might like this simple Bible Reading Chart.

Advanced Reading Plans

Through the Bible in 1 year

1. Straight through

Perhaps one of the most obvious Bible reading plans is to start at the beginning of the Bible and work your way through to the end. This plan will lead you straight through the Bible in one year. Though it is intuitive, just like reading any book, it is for many a difficult plan to sustain over a year, particularly in some of the Old Testament books people aren’t familiar with.

2. Old and New Testament Sections Daily

You may prefer to split your reading into two sections, one reading from the Old Testament and one from the New. This plan does just that. An alternative is to read from each of the three different Old Testament sections

3. Chronological

If you’ve never read the Bible through chronologically in a year, you really should. It is an excellent way to enrich your understanding of biblical history, and you’ll get additional background and context for many of the Psalms. A Chronological plan orders readings by when events happened. Crossway put together this plan.

4. Historical

Similar to chronological ordering, the historical Bible reading plan orders books by when the date they were written. This plan is the best I could find, though it is not without some problems.[1]

5. 4 Sections per day

The Navigators also put together a plan for reading four sections per day to finish the Bible in a year. The sections begin in Matthew, Acts, Psalms and Genesis. This plan assumes you’ll be starting on January 1, but don’t let that stop you from starting tomorrow.

6. 7 Sections per week

This clever 7-day reading plan breaks the Bible into seven sections and has you focus on a different section every day. Monday focuses on the Epistles, the Law on Tuesday, History on Wednesday, etc. You’ll complete the entire Bible in a year.

7. 5 Day Bible reading plan

If you want a plan to read the Bible in a year, but want a little flexibility, you might like the 5-day Bible reading plan (here) that allows you to read through the entire Bible in a year, using just five days a week. This plan breaks the Old Testament into two parts (history and psalms) and arranges them chronologically. It also arranges the New Testament chronologically.[2] This approach provides the advantage of having the weekends free for additional reading, or for catching up. The number of sections you’ll read per day will vary.

8. M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan

Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a 19th-century Scottish minister who prepared a plan to go through the New Testament and Psalms twice per year and the rest of the Bible once reading around four chapters per day. M’Cheyne’s plan has been popular throughout the years.

– from http://bibleplan.org/plans/mcheyne/

Mixed source Bible Reading http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.pdf and Tim Chester’s one

  • Straight through the Bible (PDF)
  • An Old and New Testament Reading every day (PDF)
  • Chronological Reading Plan (PDF)
  • Historical Reading Plan (PDF)
  • 4 sections per day (PDF)
  • 7 sections per week (PDF)
  • 5 Day Bible Reading Plan (PDF)
  • M’Cheyne Reading Plan (PDF)

Through the Bible in less than one year

If you want to read through the Bible faster than a year you have several options. First, you can always simply speed up one of the “in a year” plans above. Here are two other options.

1. The Grant Horner Reading Plan

One of my college professors, Grant Horner’s plan was initially published in Bible Study Magazine a few years ago. It has you reading ten chapters each day from ten sections. Once you’ve finished one section, you just start it again. Because each section is different in length, you’d almost never read the same sets together again. This helps you make different connections between texts than you otherwise would. This plan comes with bookmarks for the different sections. There is also a facebook group for this plan.

2. 90 Day Challenge

If you’re a fast reader or you’re up for a challenge, why not read the entire Bible in 90 days? In theory, it will only take you around 30 minutes of reading per day (of course how you read will make a difference here).

Making it work for you

Rather than just pick any plan, select a plan based on your growth goals. We’re not all at the same point in our walk with the Lord, so we shouldn’t all pick the same plan. If you’re just starting a Bible reading plan, start with one of the shorter plans and use it to build out your commitment and discipline and work toward a more challenging plan that will amplify your growth later on. Select something achievable, and once you’ve succeeded, let that success fuel you toward a bigger goal.

These plans are a combination of plans that I’ve used as well as a smattering from some of the sites listed below. For more Bible reading plans, take a look at the following pages:

Whatever stage you are at, there is no reason why you can’t adopt one of these Bible reading plans and engage in a regular, systematic Bible reading program.

Question: Have you used one of these plans? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


[1] Though the events of Job took place around the period of Genesis 11, it was written during the latter times of the patriarchs, probably after Genesis 45, and likely well before Exodus 2. Ruth was probably written closer to Judges (some say it was split off from the book of Judges), Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. Psalms were written at various times throughout history, not as a block and the Proverbs were compiled in two or three periods. See also the following footnote about Mark and Matthew.

[2] This plan starts the chronology of the New Testament with Mark, probably on the assumption that Mark was written first. The early church unanimously held that Matthew was written first, but today most scholars hold that Mark was written first. Personally I concur with the early church who were not under modern academic influences, but this is a discussion for another time.