“God, I don’t understand your book!” I cried.
I had recommitted my life to Christ in my mid-twenties and was hungry to know God. I knew from attending church, the primary way God speaks is through His word. The problem was, whenever I sat down to read the Bible, I was confused and frustrated.
I have since grown a deep love for the Word of God. I read and study it daily. But this didn’t happen overnight.
During my years of serving in ministry, I’ve discovered that many Christians struggle with reading the Bible the way I once did years ago. I’ve also learned the reasons are more complex than I once thought.
A survey conducted by LifeWay in 2012 indicated that 80 percent of Christians don’t read their Bibles daily. Another survey done by The Barna Group in 2013 indicated the following: Only 26 percent of Americans said they read their Bible on a regular basis—averaging four times a week. Fifty-seven percent only read their Bible four times a year or less.
And yet the survey by The Barna Group also found that 88 percent of Americans said they own a Bible, 80 percent think the Bible is sacred, 61 percent wish they read the Bible more, and the average household has 4.4 Bibles.
If Americans still place such a high value on the Bible then where is the disconnect?
Of course, there are the typical excuses such as, I don’t have time. I go to church and hear the Bible. It’s not relevant to today’s issues.
But perhaps there are deeper reasons why we avoid the Bible.
Reason 1: Our Image of God is Flawed
How do you picture God when you pray? This may seem like a silly exercise, but take a moment to consider it. Is He an old bearded man on a throne? Perhaps you see one of the many popular portraits of Jesus in your mind’s eye. Is God angry at the world’s sin—at your sin—ready to impart His wrath? Or does He have better things to do than worry with our wimpy little prayers?
What we imagine when we picture God is akin to whether or not we think of Him as worth knowing.
Of course what we picture is dependent upon many factors: how one was raised and personal experience to name a few.
How we view God is also a type of reflection of how we see ourselves.
In other words, what we believe about God says more about ourselves than God.
You see, how we view God will determine a key aspect—reading God’s Word.
Think about it. If we see God as rule maker who is never satisfied, always looking for reasons to punish us—then it’s no wonder His followers don’t rush to His words as a source of comfort, direction, and identity.
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” ~A.W. Tozer
The irony of not reading the Bible is: it perpetuates our flawed view of God. The Bible is God’s story. There’s no better way to know Him than through His word.
Reason 2: We Don’t Know How
Most of us don’t like to admit when we don’t know how to do something that should be simple. And shouldn’t reading the Bible be simple for a Christian? Or even if you don’t consider yourself a Christian, shouldn’t reading be simple?
For years, I would flip open the Bible and hope to find something of use. If it landed in the Psalms or Proverbs, I had a little nugget to take away. If it landed elsewhere in the Old Testament, I was sunk.
Perhaps you’ve done the same thing. Or maybe you’ve tried to start at the beginning, in Genesis and by the time you got to the third book, Leviticus, you gave up.
I have a confession to make. My love for the Bible began by reading a children’s Bible to my kids before bed. Somehow seeing the pictures and hearing the stories written for a child’s understanding drew me to open my adult Bible and compare.
I began to see the Bible was not just a rule book.
And a person didn’t need a Master of Theology in order to decode hidden meanings.
Finally, I saw the Bible as a story about God and the people He created. When I read the stories about David, Daniel, Esther, Paul, Mary, and Martha, I realize they were just human—like me. In fact, they are my ancestors. They are yours too.
You and I are part of the story as God’s people. And we have a role to play in this amazing story that has not yet reached its conclusion.
Reason 3: It Makes Us Uncomfortable
Oh, how human beings love to be comfortable. Interestingly, the Bible aims to comfort us. If this is the case, then why are we avoiding the Bible? It’s simple really. The Bible makes us uncomfortable before it comforts us. It pinpoints those hidden thoughts, selfish motives, and crooked actions. It’s sharp and cutting.
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12
Are you ever angry with someone? Are there strained relationships because you are frustrated with people? Are you ever tempted sexually or do you ever feel sorry for yourself? The Bible exposes our true thoughts and feelings.
The Bible is the great equalizer—showing us we are ALL sinful and in need of a savior.
By His love, grace, and mercy, God has provided the remedy for our sinful selves. Jesus.
And that is a real comfort.
Let’s be honest. If you’re not reading your Bible regularly, it’s because you’ve made the choice not to. But you can choose to change that today.
Don’t know where to begin? Try reading these two articles:
Two-Step Plan: Get Acquainted with the Bible
Was this helpful? Please let me know in the comments below.
Good post. Lots of truth as to why.
Beckie — nice post. The reason I used to use was time. I like to read my Bible in the morning and if I was rushed then I always justified it and told myself I’d read it later. I never did. That was a while back. Now it’s the first thing I do each morning after I get my coffee and feed the cat. I always find the time for my devotions. If I don’t then I usually have a bad day. Thanks for the share.
Like you, I have my coffee and Jesus time each morning. If I don’t start my way in this manner, it’s not a good thing for me or anyone else 🙂
Beckie, I am on my second year of the “52-Week Bible Reading Plan” that can be found on line (I always print mine out). It has been so helpful in reminding me to delve into God’s Word every day. And if, by some chance, I miss a day due to travel or events, it’s so easy to catch up the next day. From time to time, as I read, I’ll use your SOAK method to help me put Scripture into my own words. Now that’s fun!
Martha, Please let me know how you like the SOAK method. It has been life-changing for me.
Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Beckie, you’re reading my mind and my heart. This season I’ll be leading 3 groups through the study, “Open Your Bible.” I’m convinced people are more biblically illiterate than ever before, even those sitting under the “preaching” of the Word. I’m praying fervently for these women to fall deeper in love with Jesus AND His Word. To be honest, I don’t believe we can love One without the other. I covet your prayers as we come together to open our Bibles and to listen to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach us right now. Wherever we are in our faith walks, we are a part of His amazing Story. I will be sharing your post! ~Melanie
I’m joining you in prayer for your study groups. I wholeheartedly agree that falling in love with the Lord happens when we immerse ourselves in His Word.
I’m so glad we are all part of His amazing love story!
Blessings on you and yours and thanks for sharing 🙂
Beckie, this post is a gem! I love how you point out that our failure to read the word simply reinforces our flawed view of God. Interestingly enough, I think more adults should read children’s bibles to their kids because it is often through teaching that we do our best learning! I am saving this to share on my Facebook page tomorrow. Well done!
As usual, Beckie–very relevant, very clear, very concise, and I hope very fruitful in its impact. I’d like to respectfully add another issue that stands in the way of reading the Bible that I find prevalent. It’s the tendency to reduce Bible study to that category of things about which we say, “there’s an app for that.” I’m not opposed to using every advancement in technology that enhances our efforts to explore the Word of God, but there’s a “Google mentality” that isn’t helpful. The fact that we can type a few words and hit the ‘enter’ key and be awash in more information than we could imagine in milliseconds, encourages the delusion that the instant availability of information is the same as knowledge. Without openly articulating it, many have unwittingly absorbed the attitude, “Why spend all that time studying long passages and processing what they mean when we can just Google it and skim a few of the hits and we’ve got it?”
Thanks for what you do to keep the truth alive in this challenging culture, Beckie–
Ron, I couldn’t agree with you more! While I love using the internet to search the deeper meanings of scripture, I see a definite problem when we reduce the Word of God to something akin to a mere fortune from a cookie at Panda Express.
The Bible is the “living” Word of God and we must handle it with the respect and awe it deserves. Having said that, I’m grateful that more and more people all over the world are being exposed to the Bible through the internet.
Thanks for your comment and may the Lord bless you.
Wonderful post, Beckie! You’ve exposed a lot of the excuses that we use. Another reason, I think, is just plain laziness. We just don’t want to put the hard work in! So sad. But the Spirit brings us back to reality. 😊
I agree, Jamie. We say we don’t have time. But, I say, we have time for what we “want” to do. Thanks for taking time to comment.
I realize this is a bit of a rabbit trail off your post, but I have a teenage daughter who struggles with reading God’s word simply because she struggles with reading comprehension in general. She’s been listening to the Bible on CD rather than reading. It’s been great to see her get excited about the new things she’s learning!
Michelle, listening to the Bible is a great idea for your daughter. My husband listens to the Bible on CDs on his drive to work. Thanks for sharing this!
Yes God is way bigger than we allow Him to be in our everyday lives.
BondOservant, Amen! Thanks for taking the time to comment and follow.
May the Lord bless you as you shine your light!
Love the Tozer quote so dead on the money !!
Too many have a nice little box for God and only bring Him out when we need Him , then wonder why He does not answer our selfish prayers.
Bondoservant, you are so right. I’ve been guilty of it myself. My prayer is to keep growing in Him!
I am slowly learning that our God is so massively great and loving. Even in our forever we will constantly be learning of our Lord.
Jesus said in the sermon on the mount Matt 7:7,8 that first we ask then start to seek then push in and knock and don’t give up. It is a progression to know Him in a more intimate way.
Yes, it is. My heart is to share that very message. I think people believe they must have it “all together” at once. That is not what the Bible teaches us. We must be in submission Jesus and continue to “grow in our salvation.” (1 Peter 2:2)
I think with the third reason you really hit close to home for a lot of people. The reason many neglect the Bible is because they don’t want to be changed by it. The typical excuses of “I don’t have time” then start to come out to conceal the real reason. The second reason is something I’ve covered on my own blog. I would say that not knowing how to study/read the Bible is not really something that would stop somebody determined to get into Scripture, and that probably just ends up as an excuse to avoid the Bible because of the third reason. Somebody doesn’t want to be changed or confronted with who they really are, or what is wrong with their life, and so they remain away from Scripture. There is also the possibility of course that there are idols in their life that make Scripture less desirable. Entertainment for instance is a huge one. I’ve personally been in the position as I was just converting to Christianity where video games were more attractive to me than the Bible, and thus I wanted to remain away from Scripture because it was “boring.” God eventually told me to give the games up entirely.
Thanks for taking the time and for your wonderful comment. I’ll check out the link you included.
Blessing as you pursue a deeper relationship with Christ.