A plan to read through the Bible in 2013

In years past, my customary mode for reading the Bible through every year involved starting in Genesis and reading right through to Revelation. I estimated that about four chapters per day would get me through in under a year’s time. The method worked reasonably well, but it wasn’t without its problems. Sometimes I would miss a day (or days) and get behind, and I had no way to keep up with my progress. I needed a schedule so that I could keep myself accountable for finishing in a year.

In 2009, therefore, I did something I had never done before. I followed a Bible reading plan. I adopted Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Calendar for Daily Readings. It provided the schedule that I needed. It also outlined daily readings from different sections of the Bible. On any given day, I would be reading something from an Old Testament narrative, something from the prophets, and something from the New Testament. Although this plan provided the accountability that I needed, I found it difficult to be reading from three to four different biblical books every day. I know that not everyone is like me, but that approach lacked the focus that my brain requires. I missed reading the Bible in its canonical arrangement and focusing on one book at a time. I wished for a schedule that would go from Genesis to Revelation in canonical order.

So in 2009, I created a plan that does just that, and I would like to share it with you. This plan calls for reading all the books of the Bible in canonical order in one year. Each day’s reading is about 3-4 chapters in length, with the exception of the Psalms (which are covered in 5 chapters per day). The idea is to read longer chapters in groups of three (e.g., Pentateuchal narratives, Gospels) and shorter chapters in groups of four. There are 7 “catch-up” days scattered throughout the calendar. You can download the calendar below.

WORD: 2013 Bible Reading Plan

PDF: 2013 Bible Reading Plan

Christians need the Bible like humans need water. The Bible is our life-blood. The Lord Jesus plans to perfect His people by means of His word. That is why He prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Since the Bible is the word of God written, our progress in sanctification relies on our contact with the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. Every Christian, therefore, should make it a priority to master this book.

I want to encourage you to commit to reading the entire Bible this year. It may seem a daunting task at first. But it really isn’t. If you will make a plan and stick to it, then you can do it. I am a pretty slow reader, and even I can do it. So I know that you can too.

If you find this plan helpful, I hope you’ll use it. In any case, I hope you will commit to reading the Bible all the way through this year. It will be a blessing to you if you do.

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.” -Psalm 119:9

“When you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” -1 Thessalonians 2:13


  • Adam Cavalier

    I’ve felt the exact same way after following the plan outlined in the back of the ESV Study Bible. It also includes 4 readings per day.

    I’ve been looking for a plan that goes straight through from the beginning to end solely on chapters. This is great! Thanks Dr. Burk.

  • Shaun DuFault

    The ESV Study Bible online offers four different types of plans including reading through the Bible chronologically. I do agree, reading the Bible in a year is a great goal to have.

  • Peter Eddy

    Hey Denny,

    You say you’re a slow reader, yet, you must be able to make your way through books pretty quickly, given that your fulltime job as a professor is reading.

    If you’re being genuine about being a slow reader, maybe you could put up a post sometime about what you think it takes to be a biblical scholar.


  • Bruce Lang

    Reading through the Bible using’s chronological plan was VERY helpful. Use your own Bible or one of the many available online, or download version(s) using their free app. Many free Bible versions are available.

    • Joseph Sunde

      I second the YouVersion recommendation. I also do a chronological Genesis-to-Revelation plan and I also get behind routinely. It makes it very easy to show you what you missed and has a few reasonable “outs” to help you catch up, if you so choose.

  • Don Johnson

    Anyway to help people read the whole Bible I am for.

    I do have 2 ideas that might improve what Denny did and I mention them as he might consider doing them.

    1) One can figure out that the Bible used in the NT had the book order in the order of the Tanakh (Jewish Bible), not the so-called canonical order. For the NT, I like the ordering in The Books of the Bible, as Luke-Acts gets put together and Paul’s letters are ordered in a plausible timeline.

    2) The chapters and verses are human traditions, in some cases the chapter divisions actually work to lose context, as a teaching unit gets split across 2 chapters.

    I want the reading order to do its best to not possibly lose context.

  • Suzanne Schwarz

    Thanks for posting this. I read the Bible 1 1/2 times last year within a 6 month period but it was to get basic background/history. This was my first time ever reading the Bible. I read the NT, then OT, and then again he NT and Psalms. I wouldn’t recommend it but it worked for me.
    This year I am taking my time – this time I will read for gaining understanding and for continued spiritual formation. I will do about 4 chapters per day (somewhere between 3 and 5 depending on how the text invites for taking a break. I have to look at your plan – having a dated guideline may be helpful when I fall behind (which I hope I won’t, but I think we all do at times).

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