Sometimes, Bible study is hard. Let’s just be real for a minute, shall we? It isn’t always easy to crack open that massive, ancient book and dive in. What we read doesn’t always make sense, and sometimes, we just aren’t interested in God’s words to us at all. I think it’s safe to say even the strongest, most knowledgeable Christians even feel this way sometimes.
Bible study can just feel lifeless.
I remember being in middle school at a summer church camp, hearing the pastor tell us that he wanted us to come back the following year with Bibles so marked up, highlighted, and full of notes that they were nearly falling apart. I also remember thinking how in the world am I going to do that?
Just this past summer, I sat in a room of other young adults at our church’s weekly gathering, seeing everyone around me underlining and writing in their Bibles and journals as we collectively studied a passage in Philippians… and I couldn’t think of anything to make note of. Nothing was jumping out at me, nothing prompted questions in my mind, and I felt like I was just missing it all completely.
Even in my personal quiet times over the years, there are many times where it just feels like a struggle to connect with the life and truth of Scripture. The whole "Bible study" idea can seem dull or like a burden, even when I know deep down that God's Word is life-giving and restorative for my soul.
When this year began, I knew I wanted to dive into intentional Bible study every single day, but the thought of it was still intimidating. I know what it’s like to go through seasons of life where I ignore my Bible entirely, and I knew I didn’t want to continue that pattern.
“If you happen to feel overwhelmed by Bible study but want to move,” Laura Booz writes for Revive Our Hearts, “I have a plan to get us unstuck.”
I’m grateful for the advice Booz shares. I agree with her that “it really is possible to learn how to study the Bible even when it feels impossible.”
Here are three things we need to do:
- “Adjust our mindset.” There were definitely times in my life where I treated the Bible like an option, or like my quiet time was an added bonus. As I’ve matured as a Christian, I have come to know that reading Scripture is not an option, but a necessity for my faith. “God’s Word is our nourishment and fortress. It’s how we know Jesus,” Booz writes. “That means we need to adjust our mindset to believe Bible study is a necessary thing for us to do, though it may require significant sacrifice and investment.”
- “Ask someone to help.” This has been one of the most meaningful action steps I’ve personally taken. Studying the Bible alongside others, asking for advice, sharing in prayer and Scripture reading together, and just coming alongside another believer in daily faith practices is hugely encouraging and enriching. Find a friend, a pastor, a mentor, or a loved one who will help hold you accountable and help keep you engaged with your Bible study.
- “Apply ourselves to consistent, high-quality practice.” The cliche says that “practice makes perfect,” and while I’ve always cringed at those words, it’s undeniable that daily practice does improve our skills and abilities in whatever arena we’re in. It’s just as true for studying God’s Word -- we need to do it daily to continue to exercise those muscles and strengthen our faith. “If we practice Bible study--say, for ten high-quality minutes a day-- we will rattle the walls of impossibility and… improve. We’ll get our bearings within that big Book, we’ll learn the vocabulary, and we’ll gradually discover the everlasting pleasures tucked within those pages,” says Booz.
While Bible study may be hard at times, it is not impossible. While it might seem lifeless, God can and will ignite a new fire in us when we spend time reading truth. It is not by our own strength that we are able to overcome the obstacles in our way to truly soak up God’s Word, but by God’s strength in us.
Like Proverbs 2:1-6 says, “If you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
When you open your Bible today, cry out to God for understanding. Ask that he would open your eyes and your heart to the truth of his goodness and faithfulness. Ask that he would increase your knowledge and impart more of his wisdom onto you. Ask that he would meet you as you study his Word, for we know that the Bible is a great treasure and a gift from God to encourage and equip us in our faith.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
Publication date: March 16, 2017
Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com