how to read the Bible in 180 days

In recent years, I've made it a practice to read the Bible through in 180 days. Last year, I decided to open this experience up to anyone who wanted to join me - reading and learning together as a community in a private Facebook group. It was such an enriching experience that I've decided to do it again. We already have people signing up for 2018, so I thought now would be a great time to share some survival tips for anyone who wants to read the whole Bible in 180 days!

Why read through the Bible?

The first time I ever read through the Bible from cover to cover, I did it in one week - as part of what we called "the Bible Experience" at the beginning of my year of Bible school. Seven long days of reading was definitely a bit much, but it served to get me and all my classmates on the same page before we jumped into classroom study. We all needed to start with the whole story.

I think this principle is important for all Christians everywhere - not just a handful of students getting ready to go deep into the Scriptures. If the Bible is the story of who God is, then we all need to build our faith on that foundational story. We all need to keep that narrative top of mind. We all need to operate from the common ground of God's character and His purposes.

Why 180 days?

And I think we all know this, but we struggle to actually do it. It's not easy to read through the Bible, regardless of the timeframe.

But for me, 180 days is the sweet spot. It's long enough that the reading chunks are manageable (less than an hour a day), but short enough that the goal is always in sight. Unlike my experience with year plans, I don't feel the need to quit after the first few months because it feels never-ending, and I don't forget the beginning of the story by the time I get to the end. Six months - January 1 to June 30 - is specific and limited enough that it feels attainable.

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Three steps to read the Bible in 180 days:

1. Have a plan.

I don't know about you, but reading my Bible is something that just won't happen if I don't have a plan. I want to do it, and maybe I even sit down and try to do it, but usually I just end up flipping mindlessly through the pages looking for the "right" thing to read, or I get distracted and give up. I need a plan in place so that I can easily make it part of my schedule, and know that when I sit down, I'm not going to waste a lot of time looking for something to read.

I adapted and developed the Bible180 plan from a couple of other plans I had used or seen. The entire six months is mapped out from the beginning in a loosely-chronological reading order, and each day includes one Psalm, regardless of what else you're reading. Every week there is a scheduled day of rest.

There are probably plenty of other six-months plans to choose from online, but the point is, you need to have one - no matter which one you choose.

2. Have a support system.

I mentioned this briefly at the beginning of this post, but it truly made a huge difference to do Bible180 with a community of friends around me. Doing it all alone, I could make a lot more excuses, but when you know others are putting in the work alongside you, you stay a lot more motivated to succeed. 

This year, I'm excited to be sending out weekly emails with accountability, encouragement, and a little extra education for those who want to dig in deeper to the readings, along with our private Facebook group! If you need a community to read with, you will be welcomed in ours. :)

3. Have a lot of grace (and flexibility).

Here's what reading through the Bible in 180 days shouldn't look like: Rigidity. Stress. Legalism. Guilt.

I've purposely tried to put a lot of room for flexibility in the Bible180 plan because I know firsthand how crippling legalism and guilt can be. I know how crappy it feels when you can't follow a schedule exactly, or when something comes up and you miss a few days. So personalize your plan! If you need to use your weekly rest day as a day to catch up, do it! If you need to take a little extra time to get through all the material, the world won't end if you don't finish in exactly six months! Maybe you want to read your daily Psalm in the morning to start the day with worship, or in the evening as a closing prayer - or maybe it would work better for you to read all six of the week's Psalms on that day of rest. The best reading plan is the one that works for you.

And one more note about grace: Don't expect yourself to dig deep into every day's reading, to get a lot of life-applications out of it, or even to understand it. Some days (maybe a lot of days) you will just feel like you're flying through the passage with no time for reflection. That's okay. Reading the Bible in 180 days is meant to give you a big-picture view, not a detailed study. It's meant to whet your appetite for more later.

You can do it!

Reading the whole Bible in six months sounds overwhelming, but it's so doable - and so good for the soul. You can read some of my reflections from last year's readthrough here, and join us in the journey by entering your email in the box below!

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Hallie Liening

Hallie grew up on a small farm in rural eastern Washington. At 18, she moved across the country to go to Bible school, and then married the Boy Next Door at 20. Now 22, she is a graduate of Great Commission Bible Institute with a Certificate in Biblical Studies and resides in Olympia with her husband and her two cats. She survives the claustrophobia of living near the city by making frequent trips back home to visit her family and her horse, writing sentimental blog posts about the countryside, and by filling her house with photographs of Mt. Adams sunsets.