When You Don’t Want to Read the Word

You know her. She’s the woman in the corner booth at the coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon. The colored pens she brought from home are scattered across the table, where she’s laid out her Bible and journal side by side. She takes a sip of her coffee and presses play on the worship music playlist that streams through her AirPods.

She pulls out her phone, takes a quick picture of the setup, then posts it on social media. She knows it’s cliché. She knows some will tease her for it. But what’s in front of her brings her so much joy, she just can’t keep it to herself.

Then she’s back to studying the Word, and it’s like no one else is there. Her enthusiasm has all the quiet excitement of a relationship in its earliest stages—like those first few months when you just want to know everything there is to know about the other person. But that kind of joyful curiosity isn’t just contained to coffee shops or date nights. It’s found in text messages first thing in the morning, telling friends the latest updates in the afternoon, and thinking about the other person late into the evening.

This is desire in its purest form. The woman in the coffee shop has it. She’s found hope in God’s Word, and she’s hungry for more.

She used to be you. Remember when you couldn’t get enough of the Bible? Lately though, you make your coffee and start your morning; you’ve missed a few days of devotional reading. It’s not that you don’t love God’s Word—it’s just that in the busyness of life it doesn’t seem to have the same hold on you it once did. The craving isn’t there. The desire has dried up.

Your Bible reading may be relatively steady, but as more days go by without you lingering in Scripture, the less you feel the need to spend time in it. How do you become that woman who desires God’s Word deeply once again?

10 Ways to Grow Your “Want To” for God’s Word 

Over the last month, my church’s midweek Bible study has been in a mini-series on spiritual disciplines. As we planned the order for the three weeks, we did so intentionally: first, prayer; then Bible reading; then fasting. All shared the purpose of orienting our lives to experience more of Jesus.

Each week, the themes kept coming back to an underlying question: “Why don’t we do these things?” As we discussed the disciplines in a larger group and then broke into smaller pods, I listened to friends in the room asking, “Why don’t I pray more consistently?” “Why haven’t I spent time in my Bible over the last week?” Each time, the answer was simple but convicting: because I don’t really want to.

How do you stir up the “want to”? How do you rekindle your passion to read Scripture? Here are ten tips if your desire for God’s Word has faded.

 1. Share your heart with Him 

With relationship problems, you may be tempted to turn to those outside of the situation first. You may discuss it with friends before talking through it with the person who is actually involved. When it comes to how we feel about Bible reading, we tend to do the same thing. We tell our small group or Bible study friends that we’re not really getting much out of our time in Scripture, but we don’t address it directly with the Lord.

Determine how you currently feel about God’s Word today, but don’t just assess your current status. Turn it into a prayer you take directly to God. Start a new page in your journal and fill in the following sentence with your most honest answer: “Lord, when I think about reading the Bible, I feel _________.” 

2. Elevate your expectations.

It’s often easier to see a lack of love in other people’s relationships than to spot it in your own. You may have listened to a friend describe her dating or marriage relationship and wondered why they were willing to settle for less than the kind of love they could have worked toward.

Sometimes the same can be true about our view of the Bible: it’s simply too small. As a result, we settle for less than the genuine joy that is ours to seek as we study the Word. Consider how some of the biblical authors approached God’s Word. As you read these verses, ask the Lord to not only show you that it is possible to desire and delight in Scripture—ask Him to help you experience it for yourself. 

  • “The precepts of the LORD are right, making the heart glad; the command of the LORD is radiant, making the eyes light up” (Psalm 19:8).
  • “I rejoice in the way revealed by your decrees as much as in all riches” (Psalm 119:14). 
  • “How I long for your precepts! Give me life through your righteousness” (Psalm 119:40).
  • “How sweet your word is to my taste—sweeter than honey in my mouth.” (Psalm 119:103).
  • “I have your decrees as a heritage forever; indeed, they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111).
  • “Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart, for I bear your name, LORD God of Armies” (Jer. 15:16).

3. Leave lesser loves behind. 

If someone had 24/7 access to your life, what do you think they would say you value most? What would they observe about how much you value God’s Word? In your journal, jot down a list of what you think they would say you value. (Or, if you’re brave and want to take this a step further, ask someone directly.) Consider how each item on the list either helps or hinders your passion for God’s Word, and ask God for wisdom to know how to prioritize those things in your life—and where necessary, to leave certain things behind.

4. Set the mood. 

What is the setting for your current reading routine? If you’re not excited about spending time in the Word, consider finding ways to set apart your reading time as a special part of your day. You could light a favorite candle every time you read, curl up in the same chair with your coziest blanket, or play instrumental music in the background.

5. Schedule a coffee date. 

When you first were captivated by the Bible, did you go to a place outside of your home to spend time in the Word? Maybe you had a favorite coffee shop, park bench, or place in your neighborhood. Be intentional about scheduling time to return to places that remind you of the days when you first fell in love with God’s Word—and, of course, when you visit, take your Bible with you.

6. Leave yourself wanting more. 

My tried-and-true method when I need to reset a Bible reading rhythm that feels dry is to return to the Gospels, the Psalms, or a New Testament letter I love, and set a timer for ten minutes. Only ten minutes. The first few days, ten minutes may feel like a decent amount of time, but eventually your heart starts wanting more. Once I reach the point where I want to linger longer in the passage I’ve been reading, I intentionally choose not to expand the timeframe, waiting until the end of the week, and then setting the timer a little longer as a reward. It’s an easy way to begin growing your craving for the Word, ten minutes at a time.

7. Talk about it. 

God’s people will always be one of your greatest resources. Which friends do you turn to in order to increase your desire for God’s Word? A simple text message every morning or evening can go a long way if you need help keeping your commitment to meet the Lord in His Word. You’ll also find that the more you talk to others about what you’re seeing in Scripture, the more it will take root in your own heart. And as you hear what they’re learning, it will make you want to dig even deeper into the treasures of Scripture yourself.

8. Brush your teeth. 

Some routines we maintain even when we don’t feel like it because we know they are what’s best for us and for those around us. By continuing to obey the Lord, to study Scripture even when you don’t feel the “want to” as much as you’d like, you’ll deepen your relationship with Him. “This is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden” (1 John 5:3).

9. Engage in a focused fast for increased desire. 

The week after my church group addressed Bible reading, we intentionally focused on fasting. It’s a means that God may use to grow your hunger for Him and to show you that He truly satisfies. Prayerfully consider whether God may be calling you to fast for a particular amount of time for the specific purpose of increasing your desire for Him and His Word. (For more on fasting, check out “A Practical Guide to Fasting, with Erin Davis.”)

10. Remember who you’ve always loved. 

If you are a follower of Christ, reading the Bible is not just about acquiring information and instruction. Reading the Bible allows you to encounter the living God, to learn more about His character, and to discover what it means to love His Son with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. 

When you open the Bible, it’s Jesus you’re returning to. It’s Jesus you meet on every page. If you’ve lost your desire to read the Word, consider if somewhere along the way, you’ve stopped looking for Him.

Spirit, Rekindle Our Want 

If today you want to want God’s Word, thank Him for that longing. Even now, He’s the one who draws you back, not only to His Word but closer to Christ. As you choose the next step that you most need to put into practice, remember that the joy and delight you once felt can be yours again—and to even deeper degrees. It’s a limitless God who first captivated your heart, and as He reignites your love and passion for His Word, He’s the One who will meet you on the page. 

If you need help cultivating a daily devotional life, here’s a book that will demystify the process of coming to know God intimately. In A Place of Quiet Rest, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth shares from her heart and life how a daily devotional time will forever change your relationship with Jesus. She offers practical advice to overcome pitfalls you may encounter, and she gives encouragement—and tools—to enable you to seek after God for a lifetime.

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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