By Kelsey on August 3, 2011 20

Why It Took Me One Year to Read Isaiah

On Jan. 1, 2010, I began the journey of reading through the Bible canonically (from Genesis to Revelation). My dad had done the same thing in 2009 and I was so inspired and impressed that I wanted to do it, too. I had tried to read the New Testament with our church in 2009, but I failed before I even started because of a lack of planning.

But this time was going to be different! My dad let me borrow his Daily Walk book, and even though I did very well (stayed on track or was caught up) until the summer hit, I stopped reading last July. I had recently started reading Isaiah, and it was a tough book for me to read.

What Happened?

1. If it doesn’t get done before I get out of bed, it doesn’t happen at all. You all know I’m not a morning person. So I try to squeeze out every single last minute possible of sleep before getting up and going to work. But a sacrifice of time needed to happen. And believe it or not, the best time for me is before I get out of bed–especially in the summer when life gets busier.

2. I didn’t always have the book with me. I learned that I need to make reading the Bible as easy as possible. I have to give myself no room for excuses, because I am too good at talking myself out of things. I liked the Daily Walk book because it preps each day with a devotional and introduction, and it gives you a day off each week. But I would forget to pack the book when we traveled on the weekend. And if I missed a couple days, before I knew it I’d end up missing the entire week. There were too many obstacles. Now, I read it on the iPhone Bible app, which I always have with me.

3. The New International Version doesn’t always make sense to me. Although it’s a paraphrase and not a direct translation, The Message by Eugene Peterson is my favorite. It speaks to me.

4. I was bored. Is that OK to say? I think the Bible is beautifully written, so maybe confused is a better word. Eric reads a blended version that gives him a mix of Old Testament and New Testament every day. Because the OT can be confusing, this may have kept me interested and on track. Maybe next time I’ll go that route!

5. The one-year track was too fast for me. To read the Bible in one year, you must read at least three chapters per day–usually four. I have found that while establishing my routine of daily reading, I’m better at sticking with it when I only read one chapter a day. Slow and steady is a better pace for me–and I’ll make sure I understand what I’m reading!

What’s Next?

While in South Carolina, we heard an excellent sermon by Ernest Smith. He was talking about a sabbatical he took and how he heard God speaking to him that what was next for him, his character wasn’t ready for. I realized that Eric and I had been praying for more than a year that He would do something big in our lives–lead us to the next spot on our path–but the sermon opened my eyes and I believe that my character isn’t yet ready for what is next. I knew the next step for me must be getting back into regularly reading the Bible.

I’m happy to say I’ve finished Isaiah and am now reading Jeremiah. And, I hope to finish reading the Bible in the next year and a half. I may never read it straight through again, but I’m determined to finish now! I’ve reinstated a plan that I will be following from now on. And now, you all can hold me to it! :)

Have you read–or tried to read–the entire Bible? What works for you?


I love my husband, my kids and the Internet.

  1. I read the whole bible for school – in one semester. Exams are excellent motivation! Perhaps you should arrange for Eric to test you on it in a few months ;)

  2. I did a ‘Through the Bible in a Year’ study and the group held me accountable to finish. I can say I’ve read it but didn’t get a lot out of it. Since then I’ve done another study that taught me how to read the Bible and I think if I read it again now, I’d get so much more out of it.

  3. Hi! Just started reading your blog recently. I love it. :)

    Have I ever read the entire Bible in a year? No ma’am. In fact, I’ll admit that I probably haven’t read the entire Bible. Period. (I’m a slow reader and have trouble getting it to even process in my brain.)

    However, in October of 2010 I started what I call “The Bible Project” (for lack of a more creative name). I’m attempting to write out the entire Bible, copy it word for word from Genesis to Revelation. I’m in Judges right now and still loving it. Something about going super slow and having a pen in my hand makes it so much easier to process…

  4. I just finished a study on Isaiah in April. I know that I would have quit had I not been in a group that held me accountable.

    I’ve never attempted to read the Bible cover to cover. I think the Old Testament is WAY to hard for me as 21st Century Christian to understand all of the depth and meaning Jews get and relate to. It has helped me to read those passages with a study that has New Testament references.

    I’m part of a great interdenominational study called BSF. It really has helped me study the Bible on a more consistent basis. There might be one in your area.

    • Thanks for sharing! Isaiah had some interesting parts as I kept reading…it’s so long that I was intimidated at first! How did you enjoy your Isaiah study?

  5. I’m personally a huge fan of reading from study bibles (not easy to carry around though!). Although I’m getting better with biblical history, often that extra bit of context (this is true especially for the OT) really makes a huge difference in understanding scripture when you know where the author was coming from, who they were writing to, etc. The best bit of accountability I know is to read with someone. During holy week Ian and I do the daily readings (OT, psalms, NT and gospel readings) and then discuss them over iChat. If I’m by myself they’re easy to skip, but if you have to have a conversation about them, you find the time to make sure they get read!

    • Great point! I do have a study Bible, and I really love the footnotes…it helps me make sense of what the verses are really saying in context!

  6. way to go, kels! i try to do mine in bed in the morning too! i can’t get up either, but if i don’t do it then, i find myself making excuses and it seems to make my day go better if i do it first thing. i know you’re far along, but i do one where you read 2 chapters OT, some psalms, some proverbs and one chapter NT. it makes it better for me knowing it’s not all OT all the time. :) and i read king james, so that can make it even more rough. :) good luck with it!

  7. i had no idea what the word “canonically” meant, so i looked it up, and as a noun, it has something to do official clergy clothing. are you reading the bible in a fashionable way? hm…

    juuuust kidding,
    i don’t even know what reading fashionably means.

    go you!
    i say, take however long you want! i think it can be really hard to understand most times, and agree with all things you said. it’s crazy-easy to get burnt out. so, take it at your own pace, and trust that your resources & deciphering are all right for you.

    : )

    { love }

    • I think it means straight through the Bible — from Genesis to Revelation…like, in the canonical arrangement (cover to cover). It’s not a historically chronological track (that would start you in Genesis but jump to Job and then back to Genesis, I think). P.S. I would love to hear what/how you read! :)

  8. Isaiah is toughie. Kudos to you for realizing your pitfalls and making a plan! Personally, if I was starting to read the whole Bible I would start off with the New Testament. Kinda like DR’s “snowballing” principle, the New Testament is SO much easier to read and understand and you would be PUMPED to know you were 1/3 of the way when you get back around to Genesis!

    Plus, you get to kick start your reading with Matthew, which is hands down my favorite book. The Beatitudes, The Lord’s Prayer, The Golden Rule, The Sermon on the Mount…and more…all in one?! What a great kick start!

    • I was hoping that looking forward to the NT would keep me going strong through September…like, “Just think–once October comes you get to read the NT for the rest of the year!” Obviously, it didn’t really work. :)

  9. I find it interesting that you find the NT easier to read than the Torah. I am the exact opposite. For me the NT is confusing and often feels contradictory at times. I think this may have to do with the fact that my college major was Judaic Studies, so I spent a lot of time reading the Five Books of Moses. I honestly think I have only read maybe 50% of the NT (I can definitely say I have read all of the gospels). You know, even though I am not Christian, or religious, you have kind of inspired me to sit down and try and read all of it. The Torah, New Testament and maybe even the Book of Mormon (as I do have some Mormon family).

    I admire your dedication to your religion and God. I can see how much it improves your life, and marriage.

    • Hi Kate, thanks for being honest. We all approach religion and spirituality differently, and I do want to encourage you to check it out for yourself. We are by no means experts on the subject, but rather just sharing the small bit of knowledge that God has blessed us with.

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