90-Day Bible Reading Challenge: Resources

Why read the Bible?

Read daily and thence gather food for your soul
—Spiritus Paracletus, 43


The Holy Bible is like a mirror before our mind’s eye. In it we see our inner face. From the Scriptures we can learn our spiritual deformities and beauties. And there too we discover the progress we are making and how far we are from perfection.
–Pope St. Gregory


Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ
–St. Jerome


The Church ‘forcefully and specially exhorts all the Christian faithful . . . to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ’ (Phil 3:8) by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. . . Let them remember, however, that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For ‘we speak to him when we pray; we listen to him when we read the divine oracles.”‘
–Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2653

What is the Bible Timeline Reading Plan?

There are many reading plans available to help you read the Bible.  This one, which was developed by Jeff Cavins, takes you straight to the heart of the Scriptures by isolating the main story that runs through the Bible.  In just 90 days, you can get the “big picture” of what the Bible’s all about and read about the main people and events for yourself.

Based on Jeff Cavins’ The Bible Timeline Bible learning system, the reading plan divides the story up into 12 main time periods and then guides you through just 14 of the 73 books of the Bible, several chapters a day, for 90 days.

Daily reflections introduce the time periods and provide context for each reading.

What books of the Bible will I read?

Of the 73 books of the Bible, the Bible Timeline reading plan focuses on just 14 of the “narrative books” (also known as “historical books”). When you read these books in order, they take you through the history of salvation from start to finish:

Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Maccabees, Luke, and Acts of the Apostles. The idea is to read these books first in order to get the “big picture”: a narrative context in which to read the remaining books.

What are the Bible time periods?

The Bible Timeline divides into 12 historic time periods that will be introduced as you come to them in your reading:

  1. Early World (Genesis 1-11)
  2. Patriarchs (Genesis 12-50)
  3. Egypt & Exodus (Exodus)
  4. Desert Wanderings (Numbers)
  5. Conquest and Judges (Joshua, Judges)
  6. Royal Kingdom (1,2 Samuel; 1 Kings 1-11)
  7. Divided Kingdom (1 Kings 12-22, 2 Kings 1-16)
  8. Exile (2 Kings 17-25)
  9. Return (Ezra, Nehemiah)
  10. Maccabean Revolt (1 Maccabees)
  11. Messianic Fulfillment (Luke)
  12. The Church (Acts)

Tips for reading

Set aside a regular time and place to read.   Allow a good half-hour or more so you can pray and respond to the questions as well.

Pray before you read that the Holy Spirit will open your heart and mind to His word.   You might use the simple prayer from 1 Samuel 3:9:  “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Consider doing more than simply reading to “get the story,” and prayerfully enter a conversation with God.  Follow these simple steps to praying Scripture:

  1. READ through the assigned chapters. What one thing stands out to you?
  2. REFLECT on that portion. What does it say to you?
  3. RESPOND to God in prayer.
  4. REST for a moment in God’s loving presence.

If you are new to the Bible and find that this is a lot to take in, read the encouraging words of the following prayer from St. Ephraim.

Prayer of St. Ephraim

Here is a beautiful prayer from St. Ephraim on the inexhaustible riches of Scripture – and profound words of encouragement to those who find they are overwhelmed.

Lord, who can grasp all the wealth of just one of your words? What we understand is much less than we leave behind; like thirsty people who drink from a fountain. For your word, Lord, has many shades of meaning just as those who study it have many different points of view. The Lord has colored his word with many hues so that each person who studies it can see in it what he loves. He has hidden many treasures in his word so that each of us is enriched as we meditate on it.
The word of God is a tree of life that from all its parts offers you fruit that is blessed. It is like that rock opened in the desert that from all its parts gave forth a spiritual drink. He who comes into contact with some share of its treasure should not think that the only thing contained in the word is what he himself has found. He should realize that he has only been able to find that one thing from among many others. Nor, because only that one part has become his, should he say that the word is void and empty and look down on it. But because he could not exhaust it, he should give thanks for its riches.


Be glad that you are overcome and do not be sad that it overcame you. The thirsty man rejoices when he drinks and he is not downcast because he cannot empty the fountain. Rather let the fountain quench your thirst than have your thirst quench the fountain. Because if your thirst is quenched and the fountain is not exhausted, you can drink from it again whenever you are thirsty.


But if when your thirst is quenched and the fountain is also dried up, your victory will bode evil for you. So be grateful for what you have received and don’t grumble about the abundance left behind. What you have received and what you have reached is your share. What remains is your heritage. What at one time you were unable to receive because of your weakness, you will be able to receive at other times if you persevere. Do not have the presumption to try to take in one draft what cannot be taken in one draft and do not abandon out of laziness what can only be taken little by little.

Bible Timeline Prayer

The following prayer is based on the 12 Periods of the Bible Timeline and helps you take its message to heart.  The section appropriate for each set of readings is included with the daily reflections.

Early World

In the Early World, you created the heavens and Earth and tested Adam and Eve in the garden.
Help me today to choose the life you offer.


In the time of the Patriarchs, you called Abraham and promised his children land, a royal kingdom, and worldwide blessing:

Help me to trust in your promises today.

Egypt and Exodus

You freed your people from slavery in Egypt so they could worship you:

Free me from sin so I can serve and worship.

Desert Wanderings

You taught Israel to walk in faith through 40 years’ wandering in the desert:

Help me to trust in you today, O God. 

Conquest and Judges

You led Israel triumphantly into the Promised Land. They failed to teach their children, and instead did what was right in their own eyes:
Help me to keep my eyes on you and teach others what is truly right.

Royal Kingdom

You established a kingdom on your servant David and promised him an eternal throne:
Establish your kingdom in our midst.

Divided Kingdom

Israel split into rival kingdoms and fell into idolatry:
Help me to choose your kingship over other loves. 


You punished first Israel, then Judah, with exile. Prophets brought a message of hope:
In my exile due to sin, show me the way home. 


You brought the exiles back to Canaan; they rebuilt the Temple and Jerusalem and were taught once more from your Law:
Rebuild my broken heart and life as I return to you.

Maccabean Revolt

Mattathias and his sons stood up against the threats of Hellenization:
Help me resist worldliness in the culture and follow only you. 

Messianic Fulfillment

You sent your only Son, Jesus Christ the Messiah, to fulfill all your promises:
Give me new life in him.

The Church

The Church carries on your work in the world:
Make me a faithful ambassador of your love.

What if I have questions?

Most people have questions when they read the Bible, particularly if they’re new to it. For the purposes of this reading challenge, try to just read to get familiar with the general story line. Write down your questions and save them for later if you can.

Your priest or deacon may be able to help you with your questions, or you might try one of these resources:

A good Bible dictionary is an indispensable resource that can answer many basic questions. We recommend the following:

  • Catholic Bible Dictionary, editor, Scott Hahn
  • Dictionary of the Bible, by John McKenzie, SJ

An Atlas to help you find your way around the Holy Land (Hammond’s Atlas of the Bible Lands is good. The Then and Now Bible Maps are also a great resource.)

A general book on Scripture for Catholics: For information on such issues as biblical authorship, inspiration, principles of interpretation, differences between Protestant and Catholic versions of the Bible, or biblical terms and practices: The Bible Compass: A Catholic’s Guide to Navigating the Scriptures, by Dr. Edward Sri.

Commentaries that are faithful to the Church, like the Navarre Bible or the Ignatius Study Bible, or the new Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture.

A book with brief overviews of every book in the Bible: there are several good Catholic ones, including Inside the Bible, by Kenneth Baker, A Guide to the Bible by Antonio Fuentes, and Peter Kreeft’s You Can Understand the Bible: A Practical and Illuminating Guide to Each Book in the Bible.

Church Documents on Scripture

Anyone studying the Bible as a Catholic should also be familiar with the various encyclicals dealing with Scripture (we especially recommend reading the paragraphs cited from the Catechism and also Verbum Domini and/or Dei Verbum as a starting point). These all may be purchased from Catholic bookstores or accessed free of charge on the Vatican website and elsewhere on the web:

  • Catechism of the Catholic Church Nos. 50 – 141
  • Verbum Domini (The Word of the Lord), Pope Benedict XVI (2010)
  • The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission (1993)
  • Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation), Vatican Council II (1965)
  • Divino Afflante Spiritu (On Promoting Biblical Studies), Pope Pius XII (1943)
  • Spiritus Paraclitus (norms and guidelines for Scriptural exegesis set out by Pope Benedict XV in 1920
  • Providentissimus Deus (On the Study of Holy Scripture), Pope Leo XIII (1893)

About the Author

Sarah Christmyer

Sarah Christmyer is a Catholic Bible teacher, author, and speaker and the co-developer with Jeff Cavins of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study Program. She is editor of The Great Adventure Bible Study series , author or co-author of several Great Adventure studies, and author of The Bible Timeline Guided Journal. A Bible study teacher since 1999, Sarah helped launch Catholic Scripture Study (CSS) for Catholic Exchange and is co-author of two Bible studies on Genesis, published by Emmaus Road. She lives near Philadelphia with her husband, Mark, and their four children.

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  • Emily

    Thank you for providing this for us. I read daily on my own, but any opportunity to learn more is exciting and appreciated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peggy.kachovec Peggy Bonner Kachovec

    I just registered and will invite others from my parish to join.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Umatsuki Gina Nakagawa

    In older editions (Loretto) of the Douay-Rheims there were beautiful prayers to be said before and after reading the Scripture. I was sorry that they are no longer available. The prayer after reading was by St. Bede the Venerable. I have loved reading the Bible since I read it for the first time in the sixth grade. That was long, long ago.

  • Timoteo Saldana Honesto

    Sarah, do you have a separate list of all the quotes listed here about scripture on a separate file? It is a nice collection! Thank you!

  • Phyllis

    I have done the bible timeline with Jeff cavins with my bible study group and really looking forward to this 90day version.
    Thank you!

  • Sarah Christmyer

    Gina, do you still have that prayer, to share here?

  • Sarah Christmyer

    I’m sorry, I don’t. But so glad you like the quotes! Here is another one, my favorite (it’s from Dei Verbum, the Vatican 2 document on Sacred Scripture)–

    “In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets his children with great love and speaks with them” (No. 21).

  • Colleen

    Hello, I passed on your invitation to the 90 Day Bible Challenge to lots of people in my parish, and many have told me they have signed up. LOVED the Great Adventure, am now teaching the T3 to teens, and am looking forward to the 90 day challenge to renew my spirit and knowledge daily. Thank you for offering this! We did not get confirmation of our registration. Are supposed to get one?

  • AscensionPress

    Great! We are excited about the Bible Challenge as well!

    You should only get a registration confirmation if you were not signed up for the Faith in Action weekly emails.

  • Deacon Sean Smith

    Any chance of getting a Reading Plan set up for the Verbum/Logos package?

  • Sarah Christmyer

    Great idea! Check back with me in a bit at schristmyer@biblestudyforcatholics.com.

  • Sarah Christmyer

    You are welcome! May this journey through the biblical story be a real blessing to you.

  • Colleen

    None of us were signed up for that, so that means we will each receive a confirmation? So far, none of us have. Please let me know. Thanks, God bless, and Happy New Year!Colleen

    Subject: [yearoffaith] Re: 90-Day Bible Reading Challenge: Resources

  • Nona Po

    I’ve signed up but until now I have not received a link confirmation…anyone to help me?

  • AscensionPress

    Hey Nona Po! You were signed up for Faith in Action, so you didn’t get a confirmation email. I checked in our database and you are signed up and ready to go!

    Thank you for your great contributions in the Faith in Action discussions. God Bless.

  • AscensionPress

    Yes, that would mean each email that was signed up will receive a confirmation email (the confirmation email will come from the “Year of Faith”).

    I checked your name in the database and you are signed up and ready to go. Did you receive the confirmation email?

    Happy New Year to you as well!

  • Karen Ames

    I am so looking forward to the 90 day scripture reading challenge! I got a confirmation for the Faith in Action but not the Bible Readings…. I guess it should be starting tomorrow? Am i registered?

  • Judy Kavanagh

    Good Morning. We aren’t getting a confirmation link. I have registered 3x and don’t want to clog up your system with more repeats. Can you tell me what to do? Thanks!

  • Jennifer Kiley

    Good morning. I signed up for the 90 Day Bible Challenge more than once, but still have not received a confirmation email. I checked my Spam folder, so am wondering if I did something incorrectly?
    Many thanks!

  • Pingback: Happy 2013!! | The Life Created

  • AscensionPress

    Jennifer, I checked your email in our database and you are signed up. You should of received today’s reading at 2:00pm EST.

    After today (day 2) you will receive the daily challenge at 12:01am in your local time zone.

    Feel free to email at mbianco@ascensionpress.com with any questions.

    God Bless!

  • http://ascensionpress.com/ Ascension Press

    Judy, I checked your email and you are signed up. You should of received the daily challenge email at 2:00pm EST.

  • Jovito Tan

    I signed up just yesterday and just received the Day 2, without the Day 1. I was late in signing. Is it possible to request for the Day 1 issue to be sent to me. Thanks very much. Take care. God bless. Jovito Tan

  • http://ascensionpress.com/ Ascension Press

    Glad you joined! You can view previous day’s at this address: http://thecatholicyearoffaith.com/category/90-day-bible-reading-challenge/. Unfortunately, I can’t send them as an email to you.

  • Paul Brandt Butler

    I need to purchase a catholic study bible. Any suggestions?

  • Lito Bagaporo

    as mr jovito tan said, he signed late and so did i. pls send articles from day 1. thank you and god bless. . . pax et bonum.

  • Colleen

    I did receive it, and have been enjoying the 90 Day Challenge very much! My friends, too, have been getting the daily emails. I love the fact that you send it early each morning, so I can do this first thing each day. Now, a group of my teens from youth group want to join in, and I’m wondering if you can direct me to an app of the RSVCE or similar for their smart phones, as well as any way I can share this with a group of teens by texting? Thank you in advance for your reply, and God bless, Colleen

  • http://ascensionpress.com/ Ascension Press

    Sorry for the delay in responding to this Karen. You are subscribed and should been receiving the daily emails. Let me know if you are having any trouble.

  • Mandi

    Hi, Sarah

    A friend of mine want to kjnow if there is another 90 days bible study coming up  because he told me that it is somewhat too late to join this one that I am currently taking right now. I assured him that it is not too late, however, he let me know that he prefers to start from the beginning to the end of the bible study. Please let me know so I can relay the message to him on my FB page. Thanks!!

  • Tom

    from the Douay Version from 1914:
    Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the Hearts and minds of thy faithful servants, and inflame them with the fire of they divine love.
      O God, who by the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, didst instruct the hearts of they faithful servants; grant us in the same Spirit, to discern what is right, and enjoy his comfort for ever, Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth one God with thee and the same Spirit, world with out end, Amen

  • http://ascensionpress.com/ Sarah Christmyer

    Mandi, if your friend wants to read through the plan by himself, there is a free download of the reading plan checklist available here:  http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/download/category/15

    He also can work through the reading plan with introductions and comments similar to those you’ve been reading by using the Bible Timeline Guided Journal.  That provides an introduction to each new time period and then comments and questions with every day’s reading assignment – and space to write observations, questions, and a prayer.

    If he would like to do it together with an online group as you are doing, yes we will offer this again.  Have him email me at schristmyer@biblestudyforcatholics:disqus .com and I’ll get him details as I have them.


  • http://ascensionpress.com/ Sarah Christmyer

    Lovely, thank you Tom.

  • Mandi

    there’s online Bible for Catholic….http://www.usccb.org/bible/books-of-the-bible/

    Until you purchase the actual catholic bible from any catholic stores like http://www.catholiccity.com or type in google catholic bible

  • Mandi

    Oh, Thank you, Sarah Christmyer! I appreciate that very much and I def will pass along that to him!!


  • http://ascensionpress.com/ Sarah Christmyer

    I’m sorry I didn’t see this earlier.  Were you able to find the link to Day 1 under Archives?

  • http://ascensionpress.com/ Sarah Christmyer

    Personally, I like the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, which is based on the RSV-CE.  The NT has been published in a single volume and the OT is being released book by book.  

  • http://ascensionpress.com/ Sarah Christmyer

    Laudate has a free app for Android phones, with I think two Catholic Bibles plus Stations, prayers, mass readings, and more.  VerseWise (possibly just for iphone?) has the RSV for $5.  Truth & Life has the RSV text free and one gospel free on audio, with the option to purchase additional audio.

    I think the teens would need to still sign up through email and access the reading plan through their smartphones that way.

  • http://ascensionpress.com/ Sarah Christmyer

    You are welcome.  Enjoy!