5 Things to Try When You Don’t Want to Study the Bible

I believe that the Bible is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). I have experienced the transformational power of God’s Word. I know that reading Scripture is the best way to know God and to become more like Him. And yet . . . There are days (which sometimes clump together into weeks and months) when I’m unmotivated to study the Bible. There are a million reasons for this, from my sin nature pulling me toward lesser things, to the zillions of distractions that constantly claw at my attention. But the bottom line is this: I need God’s Word. You need God’s Word, too. (For a list of all the reasons why, check out Psalm 119.) So what can we do when we feel unmotivated to open it up? Here are five things to try.

1. Read out loud.

Several years ago, I blocked two days on my calendar for a spiritual retreat. I was dehydrated, spiritually speaking, and knew I needed to prioritize spending time alone with the Lord to drink deeply from the “fountain of living waters” (Jer. 2:13). I booked a little cabin beside a beautiful lake, packed my Bible, and headed off. When I got to the cabin, I found myself more interested in the snacks in my suitcase than the living and active Word of God. But instead of succumbing to the temptation to spend that time distracted . . . I read my Bible to the squirrels. I found a picturesque spot beside the lake, opened my Bible to the book of Ephesians, and started reading out loud. The wildlife around me didn’t seem to mind, and something in me shifted as I moved from Ephesians 1 to Ephesians 2. My hunger for God’s Word was growing; my appetite for the snacks in my bag was forgotten all together. There is power in declaring the Word of God aloud. It awakens our spirit to want to hear more. This reality caused the apostle Paul to declare, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). You may feel silly at first, but it won’t take long for the awkwardness to be replaced by awe as you experience the power of God’s Word.

2. Send an SOS.

If you chronically struggle with the motivation to read God’s Word, try starting a text thread or Whatsapp group with other Christian friends. Ask everyone to simply drop the passage they read in the thread each day. There’s power in accountability. Seeing what others are reading and hearing their passion for God’s Word will likely be inspiring. If someone misses a day, make a commitment to each other to offer encouragement and suggestions. Let positive peer pressure move you toward more consistent time in God’s Word.

3. Get structured.

My go-to method for studying my Bible is to pick a book of the Bible and read through it from beginning to end very slowly. Most days I just read and reflect on a couple of verses. Sometimes I read a full chapter or two. This method doesn’t have a lot of structure. I don’t have a set plan or use a Bible study to guide my time in the Word. But lately, I’ve had crazy brain. Life circumstances have caused my thoughts to short-circuit, and focusing has been much harder than usual. To stay disciplined in my study of God’s Word, I’ve started using a one-year chronological Bible. It’s been a helpful tool because I don’t have to think about what to study. I don’t even have to think about when to stop studying. A collection of passages are chosen for me each day. I simply open my Bible to the corresponding date and read. If you’re lacking motivation, find some structure. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pick a Bible study written by a trusted author and let that study guide you. We recommend our Women of the Bible studies as a great place to start! Find out more here.
  • Start a Bible reading plan. Don’t know where to start? Try YouVersion, She Reads Truth, or Dwell.
  • Get a structured Bible. There are many Bibles that will structure your study time for you. One-year and two-year Bibles are easy to find with a quick Google search.

4. Get a bookmark.

The bookmark method was recently recommended to me by a friend. It’s genius! Simply get a bookmark. Start reading in Genesis and place your bookmark in your Bible at the page where you stop reading. The next day, pick up where you left off and move the bookmark again. As you faithfully open your Bible, watch that bookmark move from front to back. This simple way of marking your progress is a motivator to keep reading. PS: How cute are these amazing metal feather bookmarks? Swoon!

5. Confess and Ask.

When we don’t want to read the Bible, the real issue is not the notifications on our phones—it’s our condition of our hearts. When we let our Bibles stay closed, we expose our beliefs that God cannot satisfy us through His Word, that lesser pleasures can sustain us, and that we feel we can manage our day without letting God speak into it. Failure to read God’s Word is never really a time management issue. It’s a sin issue. There is only one solution for every sin problem—to turn again toward Jesus, asking Him to forgive us and to reshape us. When we don’t want to read the Bible, we need to confess it to the Lord. Try something like this: Jesus, you are the Word. I’ve spent my time chasing things that cannot satisfy me like You do. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Amen.  Then ask Him to give you the desire to seek Him through His Word. Pray for God to transform your motivations and to grow your desire to open the Bible. Take a look at Philippians 2:13, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (NLT, emphasis mine). God is so good. He does all the heavy lifting! He’s even willing and able to give us the desire to do right when our own desire is weak. So ask Him! Ask Him to give you the desire to study His Word. Let’s start now. Use our comment feature to write out a prayer to the Lord, asking Him to grow your desire for His Word.

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.