Does Anyone Even Read the Bible Anymore Anyway…?

When’s the last time you read through the entire Bible?

This is how I feel when people ask me that question, even though I’m an avid-Bible reader:

It’s okay if your answer is “Never” or “A looooong time ago.” And for those of you answering, “I’ve already read through it twice this year!” I’m super impressed. Teach me your ways. 😉

There are all sorts of plans out there. There’s the “Read the Bible in a Year” plan and the “Read the Bible in Three Years” plan and the “If you read one chapter a day then you will read through the entire Bible in ten years” plan…

But what I want to know is…

Why is it so hard?

We’re bookworms. Booklovers. Book writers. We smell books and pet them and take photos of them. And yet we often need to have a reading checklist for the one book that can most change our life.

I know the Bible is different. It’s nonfiction. It’s super dense. And sometimes those “daily Bible reading lists” can take the joy out of reading, BUT…they also work for a lot of us. I’ve used them before and they help me know what to read (which is often my greatest hurdle when I sit down with God.)

But I also think that we’ve become a bit New-Testament-Dependent. Not only is the Old Testament sorely neglected (and frequently made fun of “I mean, who even reads Numbers…?”) but the majority of people I talk to aren’t even sure the Old Testament is important to read anymore. I mean, it’s not applicable because it’s old history…right?

That’s a blog post for a different day.

My Bible-Reading Story

Quick backstory: I was born to Christian parents, raised in a Christian home, my dad became a pastor, I became serious for the Lord at a Bible Camp, and then I attended a Christian university (followed by a Bible school) AND THROUGH ALL OF THAT I’D NEVER READ THROUGH THE ENTIRE BIBLE. At least, not that I’d kept track of.

My Bible was worn and cracked with scribbles so thick you could barely read the verses (mainly in the New Testament, mind you.) I’d made a Bible cover out of duct tape and I looked like a legit Believer. And I was. I legit loved Jesus, but it was a weak love.

One day when at college I got interviewed by the L. A. Times (I know that sounds really cool but, even now, I can’t remember why. LOL) And the interviewer came and took photos of me. Then she saw my worn duct-tape Bible on the bleachers and snapped some photos of that. As she was leaving, she turned and said, “I bet you’ve read through that thing a hundred times.”

I froze.

I looked at my Bible and desperately wanted to let her walk away thinking she was right. But…”Actually…I haven’t even read through it once.” It killed me to admit that to her, but it felt too wrong to keep my mouth shut and let her think I was some super-godly Bible reader. She didn’t say anything after that. I was mortified. Humiliated. Ashamed that I hadn’t even given God the time to read His entire book.

That same year, my favorite professor commented that — in a survey he passed around one year — less than 20% of his graduating students had read through the entire Bible. This was a Christian University, mind you. And even then…graduates (graduates!) hadn’t read through it even once.

And I was well on my way to adding to that mortifying statistic.

So that day I hiked up my nickers and determined to be more diligent. I read. And I read. And I read.

It wasn’t easy. More often than not, I didn’t even want to read, but I did it anyway. Every day (mostly.) And–after three years–I not only completed my first full pass through the Bible, but I had grown to enjoy it more than before. To crave it, even.

And I haven’t stopped reading since then.

But it took me 23 years of my life to finally do it. How long did it (or will it) take you?

Some Interesting Facts

Raise your hand (or comment with an emoji) if you think you could read the entire Harry Potter Series in one year. Okay, how about in six months? What about one month? Some of you might even read through the series a couple times each year. (I’m guilty of that.) Well guess what I just learned the other day?

The Harry Potter series is almost 300,000 words longer than the entire Bible. (Tweet this.)

In fact, if you skipped the first and last book of the series, and just read the middle five books, even those are longer than the Bible.

Why can I read Harry Potter every year, but not the Bible? Why could I read the Harry Potter series in one focused week but can’t finish the Bible in a year?

Did you know that the average person reads about 250-300 words per minute? With the Bible being about 800,000 words, that means you could read the Bible in about 54 hours. (Tweet this.) Cut that into one hour a day and BOOM, you’ve read through it in less than two months. Two months!

Reading through the entire Bible is the equivalent of reading roughly 8 YA books. (Think Hunger Games — that was 99,000 words.) EIGHT. BOOKS.

Bible audiobooks are roughly 70 hours long. One hour a day and you’re done in just over two months. 

You can bet your bookmarks that these statistics were very convicting when I found them.


All of these questions and thoughts and convictions built up in my mind until I finally let them all out on a blog post. I read the Bible every day, but I desire to read it more. Because this is the only book that will show you something new every time you read it.

This is the only book that breathes.

This is the only book written FOR YOU.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…” Luke 10:27

 

Doesn’t loving God mean seeking Him? Knowing Him? And doesn’t that come through reading the book that He wrote for us? I don’t know about you, but I’m going to determine to read through the Bible–the whole Bible–with as much focus and persistence as I read through my fiction books. And hopefully, someday soon, that means more than just once a year.

After all, this is truly the book that matters most.

.

What about you? Does any of this resonate?

What gets in the way of your Bible reading?

.

.


.
.
.

About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
Bookmark the permalink.

53 Comments

  1. Those numbers are fascinating. I’d never thought of it that way. I have read the Bible through… My Dad started me on reading it through in a year when I was ten, and I’ve done it every year ever since. The problem I need to work on is focusing while reading and giving the Bible as much attention and thought as a novel.

  2. Wow, Nadine, thank you so much for this post. Such great timing for me. 🙂 I have read through the entire Bible once before, not on a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan, but the NT scattered, and then in 9th grade I read the entire OT as a school assignment. This year, my family is doing a through the Bible in a year plan together, which has definitely helped as far as accountability goes, because we talk about the day’s reading every night.

    Looking at those word counts…wow. The hours/minutes are a little trickier, because I do have to slow down quite a bit to actually grasp what I’m reading in the Bible, but still. Looking at the numbers helps the Bible feel less…enormous, you know?

    Although I’m not going to pretend that every verse of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is riveting to me, there are definitely many hidden gems there that you just wouldn’t find without deciding to read through those obscure books. And it helps to remind myself that each individual verse doesn’t have to be exciting on its own–it’s the bigger picture. (In fact, the plan my family is using, thebibleproject.com, has periodic videos that really help trace the themes through the books and the Bible as a whole that are SO amazing!)

    Anyway, thanks for the post. I’ve gotten behind on my reading in the past week or so and I needed this encouragement to catch back up and keep enjoying it. 🙂

    • Oh that’s so neat that you’re doing a read-through with your family! That can be so special–especially if you take the time to discuss some of the bits that stand out to you.

      And yes! The hidden gems! You will find some EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. you read through the Bible! That always gets me excited to read through it again. 🙂 I love that you’re “bigger-picture” focused, because it’s really hard to be that way with the Bible since we study it piecemeal so often. So glad you were encouraged by this post! Your comment encourages me!

  3. I’ve read all the books of the Bible at least once…but I’ve never read the whole Bible straight through, nor do I read through the whole thing once a year. *shifts guiltily* I tend to skip around, reading a book or two from the Old Testament before reading one from the New Testament, then OT, etc. I started a prayer and Bible journal last year to work on paying better attention and really dwelling in God’s Word, not just skimming it. It’s still something I have to work on.

    Are you going to do a post on why the Old Testament is important? Pretty please? I once had a professor tell me I couldn’t use verses from the OT in a paper showing the Christian allegory in an Old English poem because the OT doesn’t apply to Christians (this was at a secular university with an unbelieving professor, so she could be forgiven for ignorance and I was just happy I was able to work Bible verses in at all that I didn’t challenge her on it). It’s one reason I use so many OT stories in The Blades of Acktar to point to Christ because they ARE important. And really cool.

    • Wow, that is great you were thinking that way in College but can’t believe that a Christian Professor thought like that and was still allowed to teach. I have to say I hadn’t thought much about drawing Christian meaning from non-Christian works until I read C.S Lewis’ “Reflection on the Psalms” which ignored for a long time as it sounded boring but it is anything but and I now think one of his best works. It also has a great section on how to deal Christianly with the sections of the Old Testament which feel the least Christian.

    • Neither do I! (Even though I always try.) But I’ve entered a new phase of life when my determination just seems to be more…consistent. 😛 I’m trying to read through the whole Bible before that determination disappears! 😉

      There’s nothing wrong with skipping around, either, but there’s just something so beautiful and eye-opening to go through the Bible cover to cover while focusing on the big picture. With your mad audiobook skills, I bet you’d really enjoy going through it that way! (You’d probably finish the thing in a week! LOL!)

      And yes, I definitely plan to do a post on why the OT is important. And I LOVE how you incorporate the OT into your books! <3

  4. Good timing? I just finished reading through the Bible a few months ago. I marked up a copy for my son. Don’t get too impressed. I’ve been picking away at it for several years. I will likely give it to him for his next birthday (not until November). I’m doing the same for my daughter. I’ve got 4 years if I give it to her at the same age.
    I’m following a chronological plan but haven’t done it for a few weeks.
    I read the Bible through in college on a 4-year plan, which is a pace I like.
    Other Bible studies or just not doing it are what get in my way.
    What has made it easier the past few months are my kids going to 2 different schools. I get up for my son to go to school, and then I have an hour before my daughter leaves. I read in the kitchen so I’m also there for them.

  5. Love this!! I’ve read through the Bible 2-3 times, one of those times with my husband, but I need to do it again because it’s been several years. Great reminders. ^_^ I love how – when you read through it all very quickly – you start to see connections you never noticed before because everything is fresh in your head. 🙂

    • Yes! When I read through the Old Testament with my mom, I REALLY saw how the decisions David made in his youth effected his children. The generations, actually.

  6. I have a Bible reading checklist so that I can track as I read, for those times when I decide to skip around.

  7. Alyssa Mingerink

    Oh this is exactly what I realized the passed couple months! If a person can read through the trilogy of LotR, why not the Bible? And why are there so many geneologies?? I think that God has them there for us to show us real people existed, that real lives had pasts and futures all according to His plan! For me I find it helpful to have a set of pens to mark interesting or important details!

    • Alyssa Mingerink

      Also I find that I stay better on track by dating when I finish the book of the Bible. It really helps me!

    • Exactly! (Though it does take me quite a long time to make it through LOTR. LOL. And those geneologies are important! I’ve done studies on certain ones and it’s so eye-opening!

  8. I got to sit in on an Old Testament Survey class as a teen. I’d highly reccomend doing this to anybody (and any age) because you’re not only reading the Bible every week, you’re also learning what the individual books are about, key verses, themes, etc. It helps a lot, especially some of those weird little minor prophet books toward the end!

  9. Wow, great post, Nadine! I’m convicted! I read around 100 novels a year, filling my head with fiction. And though a lot of it is really good fiction with a lot of good truths; the Word of God is my ultimate guide, and I should be filling my head and heart with that first and foremost!!

    I’ve read through the Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) once … but I think it took me from nine-years-old to fifteen! I know I’ve read through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs several times, but as for the rest of the Old Testament … that’s a different story. I definitely have a lot of room for improvement!

    Thanks for the gentle reminder! <3

    • I love your heart and your perspective on this, Shantelle! And yes, fiction can be so powerful (why do you think Jesus taught so many parables?!) but we need to keep immersing ourselves in His complete and perfect truth!

      And even though you’ve read through the Bible once, you did it faster than I did! 😉 May it become a new yearly norm for you! <3

  10. Love this post! And I’m very challenged. I have NOT read the Bible the whole way through, but I want to. While I’m pretty sure I’ve ended up reading the whole thing over the years, it wasn’t intentional and I find there’s so much more meaning when read in context of the other books around it. OT is hard for me… My husband and I are doing a one-year reading plan this year, and we’re about to hit Leviticus!

    • OT is tough for me, too. But I found that, after years of reading the Bible consistently the OT has become more and more fascinating to me! I don’t think God expects us to be craving the OT right off the bat, but He will help form that desire in our hearts when we ask for it and keep seeking Him!

      I’m praying for you and your hubby as you go through the Bible this year! Enjoy Leviticus! I just finished it and, while it felt long in some parts, I still found so many new nuggets to think on!

  11. It is not easy to but I have done it and am doing to again now. I have read the whole bible twice (I think) and the New testament way, way more times. (And I am always reading through psalms and proverbs, when I get to the end I just start again) But at the end of last year I decided it was about time to read through it again. I am up to 1 Samuel at the moment, so hey I got through Leviticus and Numbers! But it is amazing the new things you notice each time because there are just some books of the bible that we just don’t read normally. But it still takes a long time to get through it, even though I can read the HP books so fast, they are just a tad differnt but I totally get the point there, it shouldn’t be so hard to make ourselves read through the bible, It should be a joy to us. Its the coolest book ever, completely true, so full of hope, and inspired directly from GOD, How COOL IS THAT!

    • Wow! You got through some of the longest books! Bravo! And yes, that’s one thing that keeps me coming back to the Bible–there’s something new and fresh every time I read it, because God grows me and opens my eyes a little more each time. What a blessing and a joy!
      I love your attitude toward it. 🙂

  12. This post is so encouraging to me. This is my first time reading through the Bible the whole way through. I’m reading through the Bible chronologically, and I am actually in Numbers right now!

    I love how you said that the Old Testament is still relevant to Christians. It is! There are so many passages that set up the costumes and traditions that are the backdrop of the New Testament. And then there’s all the beautiful promises of God, wisdom in Proverbs, there’s all the important prophesies that gave so many of the Old Testament Hebrews hope, there’s Psalms that sets up beautiful patterns of prayer and praise to God, and there’s so much more!

    It’s crazy that people could think that the Old Testament isn’t relevant anymore!

    • Oh, I’m so glad you found this post encouraging! <3

      How cool to read the Bible chronologically! That can be so eye-opening. I haven't done that all the way through, but it's on my list. 😉 And you're right on that the OT is still relevant to Christians! After all, Galatians says that by faith we are part of the promise to Abraham! That means all of God's messages and love for Israel applies to us!

  13. I haven’t read the bible all the way through. I have started a few times and usually get to the geneologies and give up and skip to the gospels. I did do a bible in a year course in a bible study group which was great as it gave the picture as a whole, and I would advise anyone who has one running in your area to do, but still skipped a lot. I did recently download the audiobook but haven’t listened to any of it yet. I think comparing it simply in word length to reading a fiction novel doesn’t really give an accurate picture. A novel is designed to push the reader on and keep them reading but there are some truly dull parts of the bible, there are parts that make no sense to us at the time, there are parts that still make no sense even after someone has explained them, there are parts that make you want to stop and reflect on one verse for an hour and others you wish you had never read as they fill you with doubt or shame. I think the reason I would rather pick up a novel above the bible is that reading a novel is a relaxing fantasy while the bible is tapping into a reality that ranges from dull to baffling to wonderful to terrifying but all of which requires full attention. If I am tired I would much rather either read something else entirely or return to my favorite verses. Of course that doesn’t help me grow but growing requires energy and is so often painful, necessary, but painful, and as a true procrastinator I always think I can do it later. Speaking of which I haven’t done my reading for today. In the middle of proverbs which does require some thought.

  14. *slowly puts down fiction book*

    *goes to Audible.com*

    Wait–you mean I can get the entire Bible voice-acted with music and sound effects for 1 credit?

    I’m so spoiled… :3

    • LOL. Wow! I didn’t realize it was only one credit! *runs to Audible.com* 😉 I think Samwise Gamgee evens narrates some part…in some version…somewhere. LOL.

  15. It has been something I have worked toward several times, and it has actually been helpful to get the One Year Bible, as feels easier to open up to the reading of the day and dive in. I have missed some days, but am doing better now than before. I WILL just keep going. The point is to keep diving in DAILY. It is like air or food, ESSENTIAL. Great post!

  16. I’ve read it through several times, but this inspires me to sit down and read it again, like I would one of my precious fantasy novels(except it’s definitely not fantasy). Thanks, Nadine!

  17. Feel like I’ve been poked between the eyes by someone saying, “Yep, that’s you!” Such a great reminder. What’s really hard for me is to remember that it’s a love letter from God. If I got a love letter from anyone else, I know for a fact that I would sit down and gobble up their words of love, savoring them, memorizing them. A shame believers need pep talks in order to read something that their lives should revolve around.
    Anyway, thanks for this. A great encouragement!

  18. Pingback: Lent Day 1! | The Writings of Jon Del Arroz

  19. I’ve read through the Bible several times. Sometimes it felt like a chore, other times my heart soaked up every word. That said, I still find it challenging to keep a daily habit. Perhaps it’s so difficult for us to read the Bible because it’s not passive entertainment. The Bible is living and active, after all, and cuts through the facades we like to put up. But I find when I approach it with a sense of expectation–I’m going to find God in these pages–rather than a sense of duty–well, I guess I’d better read my Bible–He usually speaks me. I do find my myself turning again and again to favourite and familiar passages (Philippians, Psalms, Ruth) to comfort and encourage myself.

    Thanks for your transparency! This was a great post.

  20. Wow. AMAZING POST. I needed to hear this!

    I find myself torn between wanting to know every single word of the New Testament and wanting to read through the whole Bible. 😛 I’m trying to split my time between both. 🙂

  21. I started reading the Bible from cover to cover (repeat) about 12 years ago. I use that fancy silk bookmark to mark my place and I have no schedule. If I want to buzz through 100 pages I will if I want to camp out on a paragraph or a chapter I do that. Who says you need a schedule? I’ve even not read for a while, sometimes a week or two. The Bible needs read cover to cover or you miss the foundation of the faith. I have enjoyed my routine not being routine.

    • That’s great that you don’t need a schedule! Some people do and that’s great–whatever keeps us reading, right? I love that you are able to thrive outside of routine.

  22. Goodness, yes! This is the first year I’ve really planned to read through the whole Bible (after like 12 years of being a Christian… yikes). I’m already in Deuteronomy, and I have to say I’ve learned *so* much even from these “boring” Pentateuch books. The laws and narratives show God’s character in a way that’s a lot different than the NT, and I’ve loved reading through them.

    (By the way, I read A Time to Die a couple weeks ago, and it was fantastic! I’m definitely a fan at this point!)

    • Oh how exciting!!! I’m also in Deuteronomy! That is actually my husband’s favorite book of the Old Testament. There is so much to learn in those old books because God is still the same! And it’s part of our history as believers!

      (AWWWW!!! I’m thrilled beyond thrilled that you liked it! *happy dance* You must tell me what you think of book 2–as that one is my favorite. 😉 )

  23. At the end of last year I realised that I wanted to read the Bible through from start to finish. I don’t mind how long it takes, but I have been struggling to keep it consistent. This post was timely and encouraging for me to hear.

    • Praise the Lord! I’ll be praying for you as you work on consistency! It took me a long time to get consistent with my Bible reading and I learned that I needed to just push through even on days I didn’t want to read. Just capturing a single verse or a single psalm on those days kept me putting Him first, even when the “feelings” weren’t there.

  24. Nathan Mileski

    Very convicting. I know I’ve read the whole Harry Potter series in under a month and the entire LotR series in 24 days. I should make time for the Bible. Very well said!

  25. I’m a very determined (and competitive) person, so last year I saw that a girl online read a few chapters every day, so I set the goal of four chapters every day. I did (well, sometimes I lost count, and ended up over or under my set amount) and finished in about nine months.
    This year, I’m going to see how fast I can read through it, since my dad is doing the three-month plan, and I want to beat him. I also want to try a few different styles of Bible-reading. 😉

  26. Pingback: February 2017 Month in Review – True and Pure

  27. This is SUCH good post! And I actually was thinking about this just the other day. You know, all those stats about how much we read and we haven’t even read the Bible through once. 🙁 And a pastor’s kid too in my case. I’d say I’ve read through about 2/3 of the Bible, but this morning I started in Genesis and am going to see if I can finished by the end of 2017. We should have a Bible reading club where we all try to keep each other accountable. 🙂 Great post! Very convicting, encouraging, and inspiring. Thank you!

  28. Love this! Such a good piece 🙂 <3

  29. Jill Williamson

    What a lovely post, Nadine! I don’t remember when I first read through the Bible. I think it was in my early 20s. I became a Christian at 19 but still it took me a few years to get through the whole thing. And I did have to set a plan and worked at it each day. I have sadly only (for sure) done it twice in my life. It’s not a book that is always easy to read straight through. I tend to spend lots more time in the New Testament, James, especially, and also in Psalms, Proverbs, Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Esther and Jonah because I love those books. Also, the horrible busyness of my life right now saps away too much time for deep Bible reading. I am determined to learn to become an essentialist, so I can stop being a slave to my horrible go, go, go schedule. Anyway…

    I will say though, after dozens of Bible studies over the years, that Numbers is a fascinating book. I highly recommend doing a good Bible study on the book of Numbers. Granted there are some really boring parts too. (Census, anyone?) But the parts about the Israelites and Moses and the reason that they did the things they did–when you get into that history and find out why, it is beautiful. You can see God’s provision for the next generation of Israelites and how he never gives up on them and is so faithful to bring them to the land he had promised. Plus, it’s a great example of storyworld building/culture, too! 😉

    • Thank you, Jill!

      And I, too, used a plan to get through the Bible the first time. I still use it here and there when I need extra motivation to keep going! Plans are wonderful things. I just look forward to the day I don’t need one (if that day, indeed, exists.)

      Yes, Numbers is so fascinating! I just finished it, actually, and would love to be part of a Bible study on it someday.

  30. It wasn’t until my first year of college that I read through the whole Bible. And that was because Emmaus Bible college made it mandatory that every freshman read through the Bible during their first year of college. I’m so glad they did, because it was that extra shove that got me reading!
    Now, I take 30 minutes of almost every day to read through the Bible, and I’m amazed of how many new things I learn each time. I can read the same book over and over, and still learn something new! God’s word is amazing.

    It’s disheartening to hear how few young people are reading the Bible, if at all, these days. And not every church is giving the teaching that they need, either. I wish I could help them see how important God’s Word really is.

  31. What a fantastic post! I totally missed it when you originally posted it, but thanks to your newsletter, I’m here. In my mid-twenties, I committed to reading the Bible every year. I’ve done it since then and find something new each time. I always gasped in disbelief at those who read it more than once a year, but your # examples hit me between the eyes. I read 150 books last year so why can’t I read the Bible more than once? Thanks for the eye opening post.

I love hearing from you!