In an earlier post, I mentioned one big change that really helped me grow as a Bible reader: reading whole books in one sitting. In this post, I want to encourage folks who would like to start this discipline but aren’t really sure where or how to begin. My goal is to encourage you to begin today and so set a rich trajectory of Bible reading for your summer and beyond.

Thirty-Three Books in Thirty Minutes or Less

Although I have been reading the Bible regularly for a quarter-century, it wasn’t until this last week that I realized half of the Bible’s 66 books could be read in thirty minutes or less. Better late than never I suppose. The following list uses the reading times mentioned in Andy Naselli’s really helpful chart (he uses the ESV Hear the Word audio Bible as his point of reference). Of course some people will read faster and others more slowly, but these times have proven a helpful reference.

There are several ways you might approach this list. First, if you want to start slow, you might divide these readings out across one month. It won’t take you long to realize that you can easily read more than one of these books each day. Second, you might decide to take one or more of these shorter books and read it every day for a month this summer. This approach will really help you see the outline, argument, and flow of the book and before the month is out you will likely begin memorizing large parts of the text simply by repeated exposure. If you take this approach, be sure to read Joe Carter’s excellent advice over at TGC. Additionally, while I assume you’ll ask God to illuminate your reading (Ps 119:18), after a few days of getting accustomed to the text, you might begin to slow down your reading pace to meditate (think deeply) over the text and let it shape your other prayer priorities. Third, you might use these books in your small-group or d-group. They are short enough that your group can read one of these books out loud in one meeting, have time to ask some questions, and still get a refill on coffee before having to wrap up the group’s meeting. I’ll mention more about how d-groups can benefit from reading longer books in another post.

Regular reading is essential because of our nature as pilgrims and sojourners (1 Pet 2:11). Every day we are inundated with messages from the world that are simultaneously native and foreign to us as exiles. The messages are native to us because we are accustomed to them: satisfy your cravings with this food, this movie, this phone, this car, this home renovation, this dunk, this laugh. Yet they are foreign as we come increasingly to realize that these cravings cannot satisfy; only God can. We need regular engagement with the Word of God to remind ourselves what really is “true . . . lovely . . . and worthy of praise” (Phil 4:8), to reorient ourselves to the path, and to resist the voices of temporary pleasure.  I often remind my students that the ultimate goal of Bible reading is to enjoy fellowship with the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. Finishing the day’s reading exercise is a helpful discipline, but it is subordinate to fellowship. Having this goal in mind can help you (and me!) from getting distracted, whether we read for four minutes or four hours (yes, this really is possible!).

  1. Ruth (15m)
  2. Esther (30m)
  3. Ecclesiastes (30m)
  4. Song of Solomon (20m)
  5. Lamentations (30m)
  6. Hosea (30m)
  7. Joel (12m)
  8. Amos (25m)
  9. Obadiah (4m)
  10. Jonah (8m)
  11. Micah (20m)
  12. Nahum (8m)
  13. Habakkuk (9m)
  14. Zephaniah (10m)
  15. Haggai (7m)
  16. Malachi (11m)
  17. Galatians (20m)
  18. Ephesians (20m)
  19. Philippians (14m)
  20. Colossians (13m)
  21. 1 Thessalonians (12m)
  22. 2 Thessalonians (7m)
  23. 1 Timothy (16m)
  24. 2 Timothy (11m)
  25. Titus (7m)
  26. Philemon (3m)
  27. James (16m)
  28. 1 Peter (16m)
  29. 2 Peter (10m)
  30. 1 John (16m)
  31. 2 John (2m)
  32. 3 John (2m)
  33. Jude (4m)