In the first post in this series, I mentioned the change that reading whole books of the Bible in one sitting made for my understanding of the Bible. In the second post, I mentioned thirty-three books of the Bible that can be read in thirty minutes or less as a starting point for this discipline. In this post, I want to offer perspectives on reading books of the Bible in the 40 to 90-minute range.

Focus needed

Even the most distraction-prone reader can (probably) muster up the patience to sit for 30 minutes or less and focus on reading a shorter book. Such reading often fits within the grooves and rhythms of our day with minimal disruption. They might easily be read before leaving the home for school or work, during a lunch break, while waiting for an appointment, etc. 

Yet reading for more than a half-hour requires more time and focus than many of us in Gen X and younger are accustomed. I may share some experiences and opinions on why my generation and those younger than me struggle to read in a subsequent post, but if I have identified an area where you struggle, be encouraged: one of the blessings of the gospel in the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit, who brings “patience” and “self-control” into fruition (Gal 5:25) within believers. That is good news indeed when it comes to Bible reading, for we need both of those virtues to flourish as thoughtful readers.

10 books for one (longer) sitting

By my count, ten books of the Bible fall into the 40 to 90 minute range. 

  • Ezra (40 minutes)
  • Nehemiah (1 hour)
  • Daniel (1 hour 15 minutes)
  • Zechariah (40 minutes)
  • Mark (1 hour and 30 minutes)
  • Romans (1 hour)
  • 1 Corinthians (1 hour)
  • 2 Corinthians (40 minutes)
  • Hebrews (45 minutes)
  • Revelation (1 hour 15 minutes)

Just glancing at the books on this list brings back memories of particularly meaningful times spent reading them over the years. It is a diverse list: three books are heavily apocalyptic and have some of the most powerful (and debated) imagery in the whole Bible (Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation). Three are epistles written to specific congregations to remind them of the gospel and its implications for life together (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians). Two are OT narratives of the return from exile and really should be read together (Ezra and Nehemiah). One is the shortest and perhaps earliest Gospel and one is a general letter that bridges the OT and NT so magnificently.

Reading a book (or two together) on this list may require you to re-order part of your day or night around reading. It might mean adding this reading to your Bujo or iCal as an intentional to-do item. Or, in keeping with the theme of these posts, each of these books is a perfect candidate for you if your summer schedule slows down a bit. Because their length requires extra focus, you should approach these books when you are at your sharpest, with the most energy, and least competing distractions. That time will look different for each reader. It looks different during different seasons for me.

On vacation last summer I sat in my in-laws’ gazebo from 6:30-8 a.m. with a really big coffee mug, a Leuchtterm notebook and Namiki Falcon fountain pen in hand, and read all of 2 Corinthians, really slowly, writing lots of notes, before everyone else was awake. At other times I have sat during the quiet of the witching hour, reading from midnight until 1 a.m., while everyone in my home (as well as those who might send me emails or texts) were sound asleep. Before we had children, my wife and I once spent a Sunday evening reading Hebrews out loud, alternating chapters with each other. In every one of these circumstances, I had to be intentional about spending time, an extended time, reading. So will you.