January 27, 2020

An absolutely do-able Bible reading plan

A few weeks ago, a friend said I didn't know you were religious when I said I was trying to read the Bible this year.

I wasn't sure what to say to that. We don't go to church. I know it's a weak excuse, but we can't right now. I could dive deep on that one, but it is what it is. Like my friend, I'm thinking that many non-religious people generally assume that in order to be religious, you have to go to church. I also think this depends where you are from; in Pittsburgh, religious usually equals Catholic. In Alaska, I think I knew of *one* Catholic church but I didn't know where it was, but I knew our friends went there so it existed. Everything was generally nondenominational. We also went to an Alliance church and a Southern Baptist church there and liked both.

The religious thing isn't always connected to a church.

So my long-form answer to this friend would've been that I have spent the last 9 years trying to "read the Bible in a year", but have done multiple devotionals and Bible studies and spend hours each week listening to Biblical podcasts in an attempt to educate myself and push my thinking in the direction I prefer it to point. 

At this point, devotionals are just decorative. They aren't getting me where I want to be. If I'm going to spend time on this, I'm going to just go all in.

I've learned that "religious" and "relationship with God" are different and I'm trying to fall into the second category but also not fall into the pit of "you do you" and "Jesus is your boyfriend".  It's a balance. Devotionals have tended to point me toward "how is this about me?" and something I've really learned in the last two years is that it's NOT ABOUT ME AT ALL (forthcoming in a future blog post, btw).

But back to this conversation with a friend...

I could've led with "I was raised Methodist and married in a Methodist church" but that doesn't actually explain anything.

I could've gone into "We'll likely send Wells to a Christian school at some point, so we'll definitely be more involved in a local religious community...at some point".

I could've talked about how I spent every morning of the first 6 months of pregnancy, staring at The Bible Project on my computer, a stack of devotionals, and my one lone cup of caffeine at 5am every morning before work. Because I did.

I could've mentioned that my cousin and I used to "meet" on IM every Monday night for a year to do a Bible study together. She was in college in Pittsburgh and I was living in Alaska. We would read a chapter each week, take notes, and discuss. I specifically remember Romans, Acts, and Matthew, but we did do more than that.

I also could've mentioned that, in the military community where everything and everyone is moving so quickly, sometimes the only way to make friends is to get thyself to a church. That's what worked for me, anyway.

But I didn't do any of that because the toddlers were screaming about something. And we moved onto another topic of conversation.

This is probably why 2020 needs to be the year in which I read the Bible from start to finish. Because then maybe I'd know what to say to her.

My issues with most Bible-reading plans are many:

My study Bible is huge and I end up not taking the time to physically sit with it each day.

Printing a plan and reading, all on paper, usually gets away from me.

Devotionals aren't for me anymore. I don't want to tiptoe around the Bible. I just want to read it.

I don't know *much* about SheReadsTruth, but it seems like there's a paywall. I'm not paying for a plan. Also, it's more of a devotional, right?

I really enjoy The Bible Project videos but I don't always make the time to watch the videos. I used to, a couple of years ago, but I rarely get up early enough to have that kind of time in the morning now.

Same with reading on my phone. I 100% realized I do better with digital reading concerning the Bible but my phone isn't big enough for me to really prefer it as a method of choice.

So, the solution:

The Bible Recap. It's a 5-10 minute podcast EACH DAY that corresponds with a Bible reading plan.

The plan can be found on the regular Bible app. You just search for The Bible Recap under the "Plans". I use my iPad to do the reading. It's bigger than my phone and I don't have social media apps on my iPad, so I'm less likely to get distracted. A lot of people tend to read first thing in the morning. I do it last thing at night.

It gives you a video for each book of the Bible; The Bible Project ones that are so informative and well-put-together, as a matter of fact.

Then it gives you the chapters for each day.

You listen to the podcast after you read.

Or, if you're like me, you listen to the podcast before you read and it doesn't actually matter. It just picks out the major themes of the reading for that day. It's not a ministry. It's just a quick recap or summary of what was read.

I like that it's put together chronologically, but not necessarily in the order the books were written. It's more of a historical timeline and I really appreciate the continuity there.

Finally, the plan "started" on January 1st, but I started around January 13th and did double reading and listening for a week and now I'm caught up. I did that for ME, but you can just start now and it'll adjust your finish date. It doesn't actually matter when you finish, date-wise. I just like to be current on all my podcasts so I wanted to be up-to-date with the newest ones and not listening too far in advance of me actually reading it.

I am 100% more likely to keep up with my podcast schedule than I am to keep up with anything else in my life. So if I know there's a 5-10 minute podcast waiting for me on that day's reading, I'm going to do the reading. That's the kind of accountability that speaks my language.

The best part is that you can pick it up right now. Today. And just get started. You don't need to wait for anything.  I didn't expect this to be a goal of mine for 2020 and I didn't make resolutions to begin with. But this is something I got started on and feel like continuing, so if you want to join in, go for it. Here's a link with more info! The podcast is a great place to start.


  1. Oh cool - I haven't seen this one. I love the little devotionals they have on there that you can find for what you are needing ... but I like this one is so Bible focused & the podcast feature.

  2. I haven't heard of this, thanks for sharing! I also generally prefer reading the Bible to reading a devotional. I read through the Bible in a year in 2017--using the plan from The Bible Project--that is the only time I've done the whole Bible in a year and the timing was so needed for me...after my miscarriage and then in June 2017 I became pregnant with Cyrus...
    I tend to consider myself very 'religious'...in the sense of my faith shapes me and all of my thinking...but I also don't particularly think one always needs to go to church in every season of life, although I think churches can be a very joyful part of life. IT was actually having Cyrus that made me want to change churches and go to a church we could all feel more at home in, because I wanted him to have a home church to grow up in. I loved my church and church friends and even my pastor when I was a kid, and I wanted him to have that, too.

  3. “I don’t want to tiptoe around the Bible, I just want to read it.” YES. That’s a perfect way to say it. I’m not one for devotionals either. If I need help with a passage, I’ll dig into my Matthew Henry commentary. It’s so helpful. Also—this may not be possible for you, but I joined Bible Study Fellowship a few years ago, and it has helped me so much with digging into the Bible. They have classes all over the world, and in Pittsburgh I bet you would have lots of options. And they have classes for kids where they teach the same story and do activities. Gracie loves it.

  4. I am by NO means religious. I believe but I have issues with going to church as a whole. It's always been a goal to read the entire bible and I love that this app makes it so easy! Downloading it all now.


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