If the I Know I Should Read the Bible, but . . . Club existed, I would have been the president. As a Christian, I knew I should read the Bible. I even reserved a special place for it on my bookshelf. But it didn’t rank as high in my heart as it should have. In theory, reading the Bible was the most important part of my day, but obstacles kept getting in the way.
If you need help becoming more faithful in your Bible reading, consider these eight common obstacles (the “buts,” if you will) and the simple solutions that can help you overcome them.
1. I don’t want to read the Bible.
Not many Christians will confess they don’t want to read the Bible, in part because most think they want to. But they don’t. How do I know? Because they’re not reading it. Not regularly. If we really wanted to read the Bible—provided we knew how to read, had one to read, and weren’t in a coma—we’d do it.
The good news is that as soon as we overcome this challenge, other obstacles will fall away. How does this occur? Through prayer, obedience, and honest soul searching.
The Holy Spirit lives in true Christians and gives us the power and the will to do what pleases God, like reading the Bible (Phil. 2:13). A desire for God’s Word is one mark of a true Christian. Having said that, true Christians can still struggle to hunger for it as we ought to.
If you’re confident in your salvation, ask the Lord to reveal what is hindering you from obeying Him and faithfully reading your Bible. Search your soul and be honest. You’ll most likely find, as I did, that as soon as you begin to truly walk in obedience in your heart and actions, the desire will come along. But until then, obey anyway.
Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). Jesus reminded Satan in the wilderness that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
If, in the depths of your heart, you realize you have absolutely zero desire to read the Bible, examine yourself to see if you’re truly a Christian (2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Pet. 1:10–11). True salvation only comes by grace through faith in Christ to those who repent and surrender to the true gospel (Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:23; 1 John 1:9; Rom. 10:9–10; Eph. 2:8–9).
2. I’m not convinced it will make a difference in my life.
I’d been a Christian a long time and had faithfully read the Bible a few times a week, but I wasn’t much different than I’d been before I became a Christian. I wondered if I was one of those people the Bible can’t change (as if that type of Christian could exist). This feeling of failure discouraged me from even wanting to read my Bible.
Thankfully, this obstacle fell away when I changed my goal in Bible reading. I’d been reading it because I was supposed to. It’s the good Christian’s manual, right? But once I started reading God’s Word to know Him intimately, I fell in love with the Bible. It felt like a miracle. And it was. God’s divine Word works miracles in the hearts of true Christians (2 Tim. 3:16–17). But we must read it.
3. I can’t understand the Bible.
If you can’t understand the Bible, get in line. Take a number. But don’t give up. There’s hope. God has given Christians His Holy Spirit to teach us His Word. And He’s gifted brilliant Bible scholars to help make the Scriptures clear for us. There’s never been a time in history when we’ve had easier access to ways to learn and understand the Bible. Free apps and online resources are a tap away. BlueLetterBible.org and Biblehub.com offer excellent free commentaries. Ask your pastor for his favorites. (The free commentaries by John Gill and Alexander MacLaren in Biblehub are two of my favorites.)
4. I don’t have time.
God has called us to be devoted to His Word, and He’s the maker and master of time. He never calls us to something without providing what we need to accomplish His calling. Ask God to reveal to you the time He’s already provided or to open up time in your schedule. Then obey. Be willing to make sacrifices. Set your alarm earlier. Get up in the middle of the night if He wakes you. Use your lunch hour. Turn off the TV earlier before bed. God wants us to read the Bible. He’ll show us when if we’ll watch and obey.
5. I don’t know where to start.
With sixty-six books in the Bible divided into two testaments, it’s not surprising if you’re not sure where to start. Genesis seems obvious, but everyone talks about the New Testament. It can be overwhelming. A good Bible reading plan will solve this dilemma. The best plans help you read through the Bible in a logical manner and typically have you reading in both the Old and the New Testament. (Check out this post on “The Best and Worst in Bible Reading Plans.”)
6. I hate reading.
I don’t hate reading, so I can’t really relate to you there, but we all have something we don’t like. I actually disliked most vegetables altogether until I forced myself to start eating them for my health. Believe it or not, somewhere along the way I came to enjoy them. (Except green bell peppers. Yech.) As you come to know the God of the Word, you’ll find yourself transforming into an eager Bible reader.
If reading is complicated for you, it’s possible your ability and skills will sharpen with faithful practice. As an alternative, many apps read the Bible to you. I heard James Earl Jones narrates the Bible in one app. Imagine the voice of Darth Vader reading the Bible! “Luke, God is your Father.”
7. I don’t want to read about sin.
If you’re a Christian, sin is like bacteria-infested food. It may go down sweet, but it turns rancid in our soul. Sin doesn’t belong in the heart of a Christian. It rebels against the Holy Spirit. God’s Word shines a burning light onto our sin, and we don’t like it. But when we humble ourselves before the Lord, His Word becomes a welcome beacon, guiding us on the path out of sin and back into the joy of fellowship with the Lord.
If there’s a sin in your life you don’t want to talk about, understand this: sin is never satisfied. It always demands more until it utterly destroys us. Satan wants us to steer clear of the Bible because it reveals the Truth that sets us free.
The Word of God lifts us out of the miry pit of sin and fills us with joy. It’s a healing balm, not a bitter pill. Run to it. Don’t avoid it.
8. The Bible is just a boring bunch of dos and don’ts.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of the world believes God’s Word is a manual of dos and don’ts. Who gets excited to read that? Fortunately, the Bible is actually the divine story of God and His glory revealed through His deep love for His children and His unfathomable plan of Redemption. He wove this wondrous story through numerous individual stories, through trials and triumphs, loves and losses, good and evil. It culminates in Christ’s glorious victory that we Christians get to be a part of.
If you’re a current member of the I Know I Should Read the Bible, but . . . Club, trust the past president. Admit your struggle and pray. Search your soul for the truth about why you’re not reading the Bible. Pray some more, and then read your Bible. All of it.
God worked a miracle in my heart through His Word. He’s given me a passion for the Bible that’s never waned. His Word continues to work miracles of grace and change in me every year. He’ll do the same in you—if you’ll read it.