3 reasons why reading the Bible feels like a chore

Christian, if reading the Bible isn’t really your thing, can we chat for a minute?

While Christianity isn’t dependent upon our academic inclinations, nor our interest in reading in general—to suggest those who are illiterate, have a learning disability or simply aren’t big readers are excluded from the kingdom of God is ridiculous—all Christians should strive to be students of the Bible.

We are, after all, a people of the Book. We know God’s will, his character, and his promises through the Bible. And so, especially for those of us who have the means and ability to do so, this is a book that should be one we’re always eager to pick up. To read and study carefully to whatever capacity God has given us. To enjoy as though it were our favorite meal…

3 Reasons Behind Our Struggles Reading the Bible

So why is it that reading the Bible seems like such a chore? While there are, no doubt, many reasons, here are three that I’ve seen crop up most frequently in my own life.

1. We don’t prioritize it.

Let’s be honest, this is probably the key reason many of us struggle to read our Bibles. We don’t prioritize it, and choose other books or television instead… While other books and television aren’t bad at all, shouldn’t the Bible be our first priority? I can definitely attest that I’ve had seasons where this has been my problem—and it’s really dangerous because it’s so hard to get out of this trap, and often the approaches we take to doing so can cause even greater harm.

2. We treat it like a project.

This is the second issue, and it’s related to the first. Many of us try to overcome our lackadaisical attitude to the Bible with aggressive reading plans. We want to read the Bible in a year, or ten times in a year, or the New Testament in a month… But that’s like trying to start your car in the dead of winter and immediately jump onto the highway without letting it warm-up. You may move (briefly), but you’ll ruin the engine. But reading the Bible is not a project. Spiritual dullness cannot be defeated by an exertion of willpower.

3. We are in a season of spiritual depression.

Unlike a Barney Stinson’s views on mixtapes and despite what Joel Osteen may tell you, the Christian life is not all rise. Every day is not a Friday. Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of a deep spiritual depression—one that just never seems to lift. Perhaps it comes from a prolonged season of battling against personal sin. Or maybe it’s from trying to remain faithful in difficult circumstances (I have had periods of time where I dreaded even getting up in the morning because of what was happening in my life, so I get it).

Whatever the reason though, in these situations, we cannot find comfort, encouragement, or rest in the place we should find them. And so our weariness can lead to despair, and we struggle to push back the darkness. And as our shame grows, we grow silent, for fear of judging eyes.

What can we do to make reading the Bible not so difficult?

For the first two reasons, the solution begins with repentance. We need to repent of sinful attitudes toward the Bible, whether that is neglecting it or treating it as a project. We need to see our wrong attitudes as wrong. In order to begin to give the Bible its due, we ought to start simple. Read something. Don’t aim to read the Bible in a month. Just try to read a paragraph. Then another. And another. Take the time you need to take.

The third issue needs to be dealt with with a great deal of sensitivity. Those who are in this trap already feel a huge amount of guilt and shame for not being “good enough” as Christians. They don’t need to be told to do more better or try harder because that’s just not going to work. Instead, my challenge to them (as one who has experienced this myself) would be to open up about the struggle, for shame only thrives in secrecy. Tell someone who is close to you what you’re going through. Don’t ask them to fix the problem, but just to pray. And to keep praying. And for you to be praying as well. Admit where you’re at, for God already knows.

Most of all, be patient. This is not something that’s going to be overcome with a few prayers and a coffee cup verse. There will be relapses. There will be setbacks. You may never fully overcome it, but there will be small triumphs along the way (especially if you make if your habit to read the Psalms). Focus on those small wins. Focus on where you have seen God at work in the past, and recount them as David did in his darkest moments. Trust him to overcome this, for he surely will, either in this life or in glory.


Photo by madeleine ragsdale on Unsplash

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books including the Big Truths Bible Storybook, Epic Devotions, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty, and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. His next book, published by Lexham Press, will release in Spring 2023.

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11 Replies to “3 reasons why reading the Bible feels like a chore”

  1. […] Bringing back the backlist: 3 reasons why reading the Bible feels like a chore […]

  2. May I also add another to this excellent list? Familiarity. I hate to say it, but we don’t approach the Bible as the living Word of God and we read things kind of with a ho-hum-yeah, I’ve read this before attitude. Which requires, as the author states – repentance & prayer that we should take for granted what persecuted Christians would love to, and often have – a Bible to read.

  3. I found that asking God to put love for His word in my heart really worked well–so simple, but super helpful!

  4. Aaron, I think you should reconsider your first sentence: “Christianity is not for people who dislike books.” That sentence is completely untrue. It is historically uninformed, arrogant, and simply not the case. I know you didn’t mean it to be arrogant and many of the other negative ways I could describe it, but it is. I’m not a blog troll, and I’m not looking for a long comment conversation. You say some good things here, but please reconsider that first sentence.

    1. You are correct, I certainly don’t mean to be arrogant, and while I can’t guarantee I’m always successful, I do strive to not be entirely historically uninformed. I appreciate you raising your concern. Hopefully my modified opening conveys more of the intended spirit.

      1. Thank you, Aaron.

      2. Wow. Ok, I liked the article, but this? This makes me subscribe to hear more of what you have to say. The original complaint felt (with all due respect to Brian) a little nitpicky. True, but just a little nitpicky. To handle it in this way is very telling to me.

        1. I thought I was the only one. Aaron the way you handled the comment made me sign up to your page. I want to hear more about your thoughts and lessons. I am often careless with my words when I write, Brian’s comment made me reconsider my words when I write. Thank you both.

  5. Thank you. Thank you.

  6. Well put I have to say lately I been in section 3 but besides spiritual I have been exausted physically.mentally and spiritually, I even cussed on my facebook and had to ask for forgiveness. Great post!

  7. Simple but very accurate. A big yes to the first one!

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