This article is adapted from Kristen Wetherell’s new book, Help for the Hungry Soul.
Why Don’t I Read My Bible?
You know the scenario: you’re reading through a Bible passage, only to find your thoughts wandering to that work project you have to finish or that recent debate you heard online (which causes you to check your phone—again). Hello, distraction.
Or what about this one? You come down the stairs in the morning, knowing you should spend time with God in his Word. But you’re not awake yet, the coffee machine calls, and quite frankly, you just don’t feel up for it. You’ll do it later… but later never comes.
My hand is raised. There are so many barriers that can keep us from engaging with Scripture. Our gracious God beckons us to enjoy him in his Word, yet we often “spend [our] money for that which is not bread, and [our] labor for that which does not satisfy” (Isa. 55:1–2). So why do we often struggle to actually sit down and read our Bibles?
Barrier to Bible Reading: Distraction
We live in an age of unparalleled opportunities and unrelenting stimulation, where the influence of technology greatly affects our desire and ability to receive God’s Word. The digital hubbub has rewired our brains, making us obsessed with noise, addicted to instant gratification, and unable to focus, all of which can make hearing and reading God’s Word difficult. How have you seen technology’s influence become dangerous to your walk with God? How have you seen the enemy use it to keep you from God and his life-giving Word?
One way we can overcome this barrier is by committing to “Bible before screens.” Place your phone in another room and turn off notifications until you first spend time with Jesus in Scripture. It’s amazing to me how much less distracted I am when screens aren’t an option!
Barrier to Bible Reading: Dullness
Technology can be a gift, of course. Our modern age has lavished us with an abundance of biblical resources. These gifts from God can stir our hunger for him. But sometimes they have the opposite effect; we take them for granted and become bored with—or dull to—what feels overfamiliar. Dullness of heart causes us to approach our Bible reading as a mere duty rather than as a means to communing with the living God (John 5:39–40). Dullness might also tempt us to stop reading God’s Word entirely.
How can we be on guard against dullness of heart? Our desperation leads us to prayer. We recognize our need for God’s Spirit to fan into flame within us a desire and love for him. We ask him to revive our hearts to the Word again (Isa. 57:15) and commit to reading it even when we don’t feel like it.
Barrier to Bible Reading: Deceit
Our hearts can also be deceived into believing lies about God and his Word. This is one of Satan’s greatest tactics as the father of lies (John 8:44). Recognize any of these?
The Bible is boring.
The Bible is full of restrictive rules.
I don’t have time to read my Bible.
The entire Bible can’t be true.
I’m a terrible Bible student. God must be so disappointed in me.
We can ask God to make us aware of untrue thoughts that distract us from his Word and dull our hearts to his beauty, authority, and power. This is why we so badly need our Bibles! We need God’s words to help us think God’s thoughts after him. Scripture itself tells us “[God’s] word is truth” (Ps. 119:160; John 17:17); we need it to help us identify the lies we so often believe about it.
Barrier to Bible Reading: Discouragement
What circumstances send you into seasons of spiritual dryness? Maybe you haven’t opened your Bible for months because your newborn has kept you up all night for equally as long. Maybe your aging parents need you constantly. Or maybe you’re in the midst of deep suffering: illness, chronic pain, depression, grief, and other trials that make it hard to get out of bed in the morning, let alone invest energy in God’s Word. Our pain fills our heads, weighs on our hearts, and tempts us toward discouragement and apathy.
The question is: will we allow these discouragements to drive us to God’s Word or away from it? When I feel discouraged, I turn to the Psalms and let them fill my mind, overwhelm my doubts, and fuel my prayers. The Psalms give voice to our deepest cries and are a balm for the weary heart.
We Need God’s Help
With these four barriers in mind, at this point you may be feeling disheartened. If you’re like me, you’re thinking, I struggle with most of these often, if not all the time. But we need to acknowledge these barriers—distraction, dullness, deceit, and discouragement—so that, with God’s help, we can begin to throw off anything keeping us from his Word.
The reality is, none of us can attain this on our own. But Jesus is the Creator and Redeemer of our hearts, and therefore we are never without hope for change. The only way our affections for him will grow is if he gives growth (1 Cor. 3:6). And the only way we will ever learn to love his Word above all else is if he places such a love within us (Jer. 31:33). He alone can change our hearts and satisfy our spiritual hunger—and praise God, he does it through his Word.
Meet the Author
Kristen Wetherell is a pastor’s wife, mother, and writer. She is the author of Help for the Hungry Soul, Humble Moms, and Fight Your Fears, coauthor of the award-winning book Hope When It Hurts, and editor of 12 Faithful Women. She also enjoys teaching the Bible to women at conferences and retreats. Read Kristen’s writing on her website and connect with her on Instagram.