When Reading the Bible Isn’t “Fun”
I really like my morning routine. Pre-pandemic, I would wake up very early and immediately make my bed. Then, I’d take a shower, make my coffee, and sit in the same chair day after day for my quiet time before heading to work.
I’ve Been Bored While Reading the Bible
I like to read the Bible in the morning because that’s when I’m the freshest and alert. But if I am honest, I have gone through seasons when reading the Bible feels routine and boring. During these seasons, I will get to the end of a passage and realize I was thinking about something else. I reread the passage, only to have to reread it yet again. In these times, my heart and mind are not very engaged with what I am reading. I have a hard time, feeling like the Bible isn’t stirring up the affections I ought to have when interacting with God’s Word. Other times, if I’m very familiar with a passage, I find myself skimming over it because I wrongly believe there is nothing new in it for me. Or I become easily distracted by a phone notification or the upcoming day. My attention is lured away from being present before God. So, what do we do when reading the Bible feels boring?
Why Is the Bible Reading Important?
I want to suggest that reading the Bible is not meant to be a fun hobby for the Christian to tinker around with, but a habit for us to nurture every day. It is not meant for mere enjoyment but to transform us into the image of Christ as we turn ourselves over to God and ask him to use the double-edged sword of the Word to divide bone and marrow and discern our hearts. We read the Bible to revive our soul, make us wise, and enlighten our eyes. The Word changes our behavior so we are more Christlike examples—the hands and feet of Jesus to those waiting to meet him.
In every season, I need God to brush away the ashes and blow fresh oxygen into the embers of my heart; to ignite a passion for him within me. So, what does Bible reading have to do with that? Well, when I read my Bible, I am giving myself to God. I’m asking him to help me see him more clearly and to “discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
What Do We Do When Reading the Bible Feels Boring?
The Bible is, in one sense, the oxygen that the fire in my heart needs to burn. Without it, I cannot live. And yet, I don’t always feel that way. Yes, the God who holds the universe together is the same God who has given us the grace to read his Word. But sometimes, that reality doesn’t sink in when I sit down in my chair and crack open my Bible.
In those moments, I think of the truth from Proverbs 22:17-18:
“Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.”
Three commands jump out from these verses: (1) Incline your ear, (2) hear the words of the wise, and (3) apply your heart to knowledge. The promise is that if you do these things, it will be pleasant. In those seasons when the Word feels dry or dull, I have to remind myself that knowing the Word—applying my heart to it—is pleasant for me; it is good and necessary for me. I need to attend to the words meticulously, to read the passage repeatedly, and to continually pray that God would help me and open my eyes to what he has for me.
Don’t Give Up: Tips to Revitalize Bible Reading Time
There is something to be said for this kind of perseverance in attending to God’s Word. My gut response when asked the question, “What should I do when reading the Bible is boring?” is just to keep reading it. Don’t give up.
Still, there are many creative ways to read and engage with the Word of God that I have found helpful when my routine needs a little adjustment or reading the Bible feels a little lackluster:
Writing the Bible – One thing that has helped is writing out entire books of the Bible by hand. It always surprises me how much more I can see when I write out the Bible. The slower process of writing helps me notice things I never have and meditate on Scripture in a deeper way.
Journaling about the Bible – In a similar vein, journaling through passages of the Bible helps me slow down and sit in the Word as I write out thoughts and implications the passage may have on my life or prayers inspired by Scripture.
Listening to the Bible – There have also been seasons when I would listen to the Bible while reading it or while walking. There are many ways to listen to entire books of the Bible or pick specific passages you want to hear on repeat as you meditate on Scripture. I have found it particularly helpful to meditate on specific passages by having them recited to me several times with space between readings to reflect.
Reading the Bible with others – A final idea is reading the Word in community. When I lived overseas, the university students involved in our fellowship would wake up several mornings a week and read the Bible together before their first class. Sometimes they would read out loud together, and sometimes they would read the same passage silently. Afterward, they would share what they had learned and would spend time praying together. I was always so encouraged when I would meet up with a student and hear what he had learned from the Word through his brothers and sisters in their morning quiet times. They were accountable to their group but also willingly went because of how they were able to meet with the Lord through his Word in those times.
The Word Will Transform
There are lots of other ways to read the Bible. There are new and creative ways with music and the visual arts to engage with God’s Word and to get it into our heart and mind. The point is not whether or not reading the Bible is fun every time we pick it up. The point is to routinely attend to the Bible, trust God to open our eyes and heart to his Word, and trust that this daily habit will transform us to be more like Christ.