According to a 2019 study by Lifeway Research, 40 percent of Protestant Christians read their Bible less than once a week. That statistic is further shocking when you consider that these are self-identified Christians who (one would hope) go to church each week.
So what gives? For those of us who are Christian, the Bible is hardly a strange concept. We know it’s important to read, and we find it helpful when we do read it. Yet, for many Christians, Bible reading remains on the annual resolution list, right next to “organize my files” and “read more books.”
Forty percent of Protestant Christians read their Bible less than once a week.Lifeway Research
My own commitment of reading the Word daily has waxed and waned over the years. Yet, I am grateful for (1) the conviction of the Holy Spirit and (2) the mentorship of mature Christians in my life. This past year, I have begun to spend more time reading God’s Word and, by God’s grace, am imperfectly making progress.
I don’t offer these tips as a way to say, “Hey! Look how great I’m doing!” I have a lot of room for growth. At the same time, I know what it’s like to be aimlessly flipping through pages or staring sullenly at that intimidating mammoth of a book on your nightstand.
From one friend to another, here are five tips I’ve found helpful:
1. Commit to a Plan
Boy, I wish I’d stumbled across this tip earlier! Here’s the thing: listening to your own needs and the prompting of the Holy Spirit is very important. I’m not discounting that. At the same time, we rarely keep up with something we never commit to in the first place. Accountability (see tip #2) can help with that, but so can a Bible plan. Whether you find a structured plan or an inductive study to read along with, please find something. 🙂 Let the spontaneous meandering through Scripture be supplemental rather than foundational to your regular spiritual discipline.
2. Find Accountability
Having friends to hold you accountable serves two purposes. It motivates you to actually do what you’ve committed two and it offers encouragement as you hear what your friend is learning through their time in the Word. Plus, friends offer a much-needed perspective when you do fall short. They’ll remind you of the goodness of grace and then help you get back on track. A good friend will encourage you to regularly read your Bible because the Word of God is powerful in growing your love for God and it’ll likely make you a more enjoyable friend to spend time with (an added perk, for sure!).
3. Make it a Routine
In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains that the best way to form a new habit is to couple it with a pre-existing habit. In other words: insert it into a routine you already have. At the core of every habit is a routine: a cue, a routine, and a reward. The reward of reading your Bible, and I honestly believe this, will prove itself with time. That means we focus on the cue and routine. If you already have those set up in other areas of life, you just need to carve out time (start with a manageable window of time) to add Bible reading.
For example, on weekdays, I wake up at 6:10 a.m. The first thing I do is go to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. Then, I make my bed, grab my Bible and journal, and spend time with Jesus. This pattern works for me because I’ve inserted my time with the Lord in between to crucial parts of my morning that I’ll never skip: brushing my teeth and getting dressed. While I strongly encourage doing the bulk of your “quiet time” in the morning, find a system that works for you. I also encourage you to eliminate distractions such as other people and technology.
4. Mix it up!
This might seem contradictory because I just said you should have a plan. But I stand by both statements. Here’s why: no plan should be so rigid that it doesn’t leave room for the Holy Spirit, life circumstances, and your overall preference. Remember: the point of having a plan is to serve your Bible reading, not the other way around.
So, feel freedom to stray a bit. One of the most helpful pieces of advice I gleaned from a talk by Dr. Don Whitney is that when spiritual disciplines start to feel dry, it’s okay (and even beneficial) to try something new! This might lead you to:
- Read your Bible outside
- Flip to a new book of the Bible
- Try a difference style of journaling/note taking
- Linger on one verse…. or read at a faster pace
- Listen on audio
- Read a familiar passage in a different Bible translation
- Read with a friend
- Pray through Scripture
- Read the same passage over and over again for a week
These are just a few examples of different things I’ve tried over the years. Personally, I thrive in a structured environment, but I do find the need to mix things up and these are my go-to ideas.
5. Reject Legalism
This final tip is perhaps the most important of all, and one I sincerely wish I’d grasped earlier (as I’m still battling this one). Here’s the thing: You will have days when you choose not to read your Bible; you will have days when you drive to work and promptly realize you forget everything you read that morning; you will have days when the Word of God seems dry.
If you’ve experienced those realities: congrats, you’re human! So when you fall short or turn away from God, know that perfection is not the goal; neither is reading X number of chapter each week. Instead, thank God for His grace and for the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
With time, you’ll start to crave the Bible as a daily part of life; and on the days that you don’t: let wisdom trump both legalism and fear. By that I mean: choose to read because you know God commands it for your good and there’s no better way to spend your time!
I hope and pray these tips are helpful. I’m curious to hear what tips you have, so comment below to share what insight has helped you!
Happy Bible reading, friends!
2 thoughts on “Help: I Don’t Want to Read My Bible!”
Thank you for this! I’m definitely going to try your idea of reading the same verse again and again, and your point to reject legalism is a needed reminder for me.
Something I think is cool particularly for anyone who speaks or is trying to learn another language is to read the Bible in both. It really pushes you to think about and absorb each verse, especially if you are just learning the other language.
I love thinking about how God speaks every language. I think that’s pretty darn cool!
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Hi Hannah, this was a very thoughtful post and i can relate to many of your points! 🙂 One thing that I’ve learned as a 50 something Christian is to start with prayer to understand what God wants me to read, read my scripture (I use a lot of resources), and end in prayer. For me, it’s part of my morning that I really enjoy. Peace, Lori
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