What If I Don’t Feel Like Reading the Bible?

Jana Carlson

Jana Carlson

It's hard to read the Bible when you find it boring or hard to understand. Learning to love God's Word is possible!

“Mom? I can’t sleep. I’m just not tired.” All 3 of our children tried that trick. Not long after tucking them in, they’d wander out again and try to convince us there was no way they’d be falling asleep any time soon.

I discovered the solution: Psalm 119.

No joke. As soon as they could read, my go-to response was, “Okay. You can stay up, but before you do, read through Psalm 119. If you’re not tired after that, we’ll see about staying up for a while.” They never managed to get through the whole Psalm! *sneaky Mom snickers*

Maybe Psalm 119 worked because it took so long to read that their eyelids got heavy. Maybe they were simply bored to sleep with Bible reading. I don’t know. The reason why it worked didn’t matter to me.

Bored With the Bible

Boredom in Bible reading is not uncommon. Most of us have experienced seasons of desiring to do anything other than read our Bibles. We open the Book, stare at the page, and wonder if it’s worth it. We read a passage from the minor prophets and have no idea what it means. We get stuck in genealogies and lists of Old Testament laws. For those who don’t like history, much of the Bible is reminiscent of a mind-numbing high school class. For those who don’t appreciate poetry, books like Job and Ecclesiastes are almost painful to push through.

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. I remember dreading it as a child. If I was reading through the Psalms or if Psalm 119 came up in a Bible reading plan, I groaned and procrastinated.

Things have changed. Today, reading and studying the Bible is my favorite thing to do. It is life to me. I can’t imagine surviving without it.

Developing Appetites

Learning to love reading our Bibles is similar to developing an appetite for healthier food.

Have you ever drastically changed your diet? A highly effective way to eat a healthier diet is to retrain your appetite to crave healthier food. We tend to crave what we feed ourselves. If you want to crave more fruits and vegetables, try adding more of them to your diet. Replacing unhealthy options with healthier ones changes your appetite over time. Eventually, your cravings will naturally be fixed on the healthier options.

This idea can be applied to Bible reading, too. When we’re bored with the Bible, or when we don’t desire it, we tend to avoid it and consumer less of it. What if, instead,0.. we limited other things in our lives and replaced them with some diligent immersion in Scripture?

Developing a desire to read the Bible can sometimes be a matter of reading it even when we don’t feel like it simply because we know it’s the right thing to do. Eventually, it will get easier and more enjoyable and we’ll begin to wonder how we could ever have lived without it. The more we do it, the more we’ll love it.

Why Bother?

Developing good appetites is usually hard work, time-consuming, and uncomfortable. If we decide it’s not worth the effort, we’ll give up.

When it comes to our reading and enjoyment of the Bible, sometimes we question if the effort is worth it. When we read something and don’t understand it, we feel our time was wasted. Or after diligence in daily devotions leaves us without any recollection of what we’ve read or learned, we wonder if there’s any value in persisting.

Do you know what you ate last week Monday? What about last month on the 14th? You probably don’t remember what you ate, but you know you did eat. You eat every day to nourish your body and keep you going yet you rarely remember what you consumed for longer than a day or two.

We don’t question the value of eating even though we don’t always enjoy what we’re consuming or don’t remember what we had on any given day. We do it because it’s necessary for survival.

So it is with our Bible reading. God’s Word is our spiritual nourishment (Matthew 4:4). We need it for a thriving faith. It’s the foundation of our relationship with Christ.

Even when we don’t understand everything we’re reading… even when we don’t remember what we’ve read… even when we don’t really feel like it’s “doing anything”… NO TIME IN GOD’S WORD IS EVER WASTED.

For a little extra motivation, check out these 20 Exciting Reasons to Read the Bible.

A Love Letter to the Bible

I started this post talking about Psalm 119. It’s the longest chapter in the Bible, but it’s also a fascinating love letter for God’s Word. For 22 stanzas, the psalmist celebrates the gift of God’s Word. He expresses delight in it and a desire for his life to reflect the goodness of Scripture.

From a strictly literary perspective, this psalm is a masterpiece. Each of the 22 stanzas have eight verses that all start with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet to which that stanza corresponds. Imagine writing that! Think about how difficult it would be to write 8 verses of poetry for every one of the 26 letters in our English alphabet! Not only did the psalmist manage to stick to that very limiting format, he also kept to the same theme throughout. Remarkable!

The goal of Psalm 119 seems to be encouraging God’s people to enjoy God’s Word so much that we’ll put in the effort necessary for it to shape who we are and how we live our lives. This rich passage of Scripture is crammed full of insight, motivation, encouragement, instruction, prayer, and praise. It’s a treasure for us to benefit from.

Take Up the Challenge

If you’ve been struggling to read the Bible… if you find Bible reading boring… if your Bible reading has been inconsistent and you’re lacking motivation, would you take up this three-fold challenge?

  1. Pray for God to give you the desire to read His Word. “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18) That’s a prayer He is waiting to answer!
  2. Adjust your mindset about Bible reading. Practice thinking of it as a “get-to” instead of a “have-to.” Think about developing your spiritual appetite. Do you want to develop an appetite for God’s Word? Decide it’s worth the effort. Commit.
  3. Start small. Why not commit to reading Psalm 119 over the next 30 days? One chapter of the Bible over the course of an entire month. That’s an average of just over 5 verses a day. As you read, pray that the words of the psalmist become those of your own heart. Pay attention to what the benefits of God’s Word are to the psalmist. Why does he love it?

A Little Extra Inspiration

The Women Wielding the Word series is meant to inspire you to take delight in God’s Word and to encourage you that loving and living God’s Word doesn’t look the same for everyone. Some immerse themselves in the Bible through an audio version. Others must be satisfied with short snippets in spontaneous moments between the craziness of life. Still others have cultivated a slow and steady journey through this glorious Book over decades of diligent effort.

What these women all have in common is that they haven’t given up. Their Bible reading might be inconsistent at times, but they’ve recognized it as the key to a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. It has become the lens through which they view the world and the framework on which they live their lives. They’ve developed an appetite for it because they’ve decided that they can’t live without the spiritual nourishment it contains.

A Little Help From Friends

Sometimes all we need to keep us going is a companion. We were not designed to live our lives alone. We need each other. I encourage you to share with a friend your desire to enjoy reading the Bible. Maybe she’ll surprise you and tell you she’s in the same boat. Maybe you already know someone else who’s also been bored or unmotivated. Maybe you know of a godly woman who faithfully reads her Bible because she loves it, and you marvel at her.

Talk to these women! Link arms and grow together. Maybe you can hold each other accountable as you seek to retrain your appetites. You can pray for each other. You could even read the Bible together or share with each other what you learned or didn’t understand in your daily reading.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

You Are Loved Even If You’re Bored With the Bible

Be encouraged, my friend! You are not alone. Boredom in Bible reading is not uncommon.

Praise God for His gift of grace which doesn’t depend on our own diligence in daily devotions! “The fight to live life connected to the Scriptures is not done to be loved by God but because we already are.”  (Glenna Marshall) God’s love for you is not dependent on how much you enjoy reading the Bible. But His love for you is revealed through the pages of His Word.

Suggested Reading: The Blessing of Reading the Bible When You Don’t Feel Like It by Jaquelle Crowe

20 Responses

  1. This was a great article! I found it very inspiring! I can totally relate to the struggle of where do I begin, what do I want to read, etc. So, this was an excellent read for me! Thank you!

  2. It does take a commitment and some time to make a good habit of daily reading the Bible. I started almost 20 years ago, at first it was hard and eventually I came to a point were a day without it is noticeably harder. Reading the Bible is a blessing and yes a “get to” not a “have to”. I love your love for His Word. Many Thanks 8)

    1. It’s always a pleasure to share a mutual delight in God’s Word! I agree with you – the commitment is absolutely worth it. Thank you so much for stopping by, Debra Jean!

  3. I feel the same way you do about Bible reading, Jana. It’s become the highpoint of my day. And my day doesn’t go right when I skip it! 😉 Thank you for giving us ideas for improving our attitudes and motivations in this regard as well. It’s truly one of the most important things we will ever do … and do again and again! Pinning and tweeting this one for sure!

    1. Yes, Beth… As much as I love God’s Word, I STILL have seasons of needing to remind myself of why it’s worth the effort. And even though I love it, it still takes discipline for me to make it a priority every day. Like you, I have days where it doesn’t happen and I always regret it. But I’ve NEVER regretted taking the time to read my Bible! Thanks again for sharing!

  4. Thank you for this! Such a great topic. I think a lot of ladies feel guilty about being bored or going through dry seasons and then they never really talk about it since they feel like if they were really godly they wouldn’t feel that way. Thanks for bringing this out in the open.

    1. Rachel, that’s a great point. I’ve been there. Feeling guilty often causes us to withdraw instead of reach out. And vulnerably sharing struggles like this is usually a catalyst of change, freedom, and mutual encouragement. Yes, let’s keep this conversation open so women don’t struggle alone.

  5. This is so good, I think some feel afraid to admit that hey hesitate to get into the Word, but if we ask God gives a love for the Bible!

  6. And the more I read of God’s Word, the more I want to read. I, too, have allowed the world, my own laziness, etc., to steal my time with God. Reading His Word …HIS WORD … draws me closer to Him and builds the relationship with Him. Thank you for reminding me of the reasons that are so vital to my walk in Christ.

    1. Linda, I love how you emphasized “HIS WORD”. When we really think about what we have the privilege of taking part in when we open our Bibles, it stirs up anticipation. What a gift! We get to personally connect and interact with our Creator, the God of the Universe! Thanks for joining the conversation!

  7. Love this!!! Great idea for kids who “aren’t tired” plus a mom who is “too busy” to read the Bible. Thank you for an honest answer with actionable steps to get back into the Word.

  8. “We don’t question the value of eating even though we don’t always enjoy what we’re consuming or don’t remember what we had on any given day. We do it because it’s necessary for survival.
    So it is with our Bible reading. God’s Word is our spiritual nourishment (Matthew 4:4). We need it for a thriving faith. It’s the foundation of our relationship with Christ.”

    This is so spot on and I’ve never quite understood it this way. Thank you for this impactful little analogy. This is truth we can chew on.

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