when reading the Bible feels dry (five questions to ask yourself)

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, I would bet that there are days... sometimes whole weeks or months or years... when your Bible feels like it weighs a hundred pounds, when it's gathered an inch of dust, when you just keep turning the pages mindlessly looking for a spot that doesn't feel completely dry, far away, irrelevant.

The stories seem ancient and meaningless. You know them by heart from your time in Sunday school, but when did the story of Jonah and a big fish actually do anything for you? So you skip ahead, far, far ahead to the New Testament, where things seem more practical for use in your 21st-century life. After all, "do" and "do not" are pretty clear no matter what century you come from, even if they aren't very interesting.

I can relate. 

I spent a lot of my life in your shoes.

There's something so frustrating about hearing all your life that this Book is the most important one you own, and yet somehow it's also the most boring.

If reading the Bible feels dry to you, the first thing I want you to do is open your heart to God's grace. The Enemy is happy enough when the Bible bores you; let's not make his day by dwelling in guilt, too.

The second thing I want you to do is hear me when I say: If the Bible is dry to you, it's probably a symptom of a bigger problem.

Our God has given us a LIVING WORD. His Name is Jesus Christ. And the Spirit has gifted us unique access to that Word in part through the Holy Scriptures, which teach us His story.

Do you think that when you stand in the presence of the Incomprehensible God, who never begins and never ends, and who created every fascinating detail of our universe, you will think He is dry or boring?

I don't. So if you are struggling with boredom in your Bible reading, know that though it might be common among Christians, it is not normal. The Bible is your earthly library of God's endlessly fascinating character, and when that library seems too heavy, too dusty, and too dry to enter in, it's a warning sign that should be investigated. So let's get started:

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Five questions you should ask yourself when reading your Bible feels dry

Question #1: Who am I doing this for?

Sometimes we get this idea that reading the Bible is an activity that belongs on a special checklist called "How to Make God Happy." We think that by checking this activity off every day, we improve our standing before God in some small sense, and for a day, maybe our subconscious sense of guilt and lack is abated.

The ugly truth about the "How to Make God Happy" list is that it deceives you into believing you're doing this for God, but in reality, your primary goal is self-oriented. You want to feel better, holier, more loved, less guilty - so you do what it takes to get there.

So who are you really doing this for? It's one thing to read your Bible because you love God so deeply that you want to be with Him and know Him. But it's another thing entirely to read your Bible because you want to make God happy.

When Jesus began His ministry on earth and was baptized by John the Baptist, His disciples heard God's voice from heaven saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." God personally appointed and sanctioned Christ's ministry, all the way to His death and resurrection.

Jesus "made God happy" FOR you. His sacrifice was pleasing to God once for all. Whether you read your Bible every day until you die or never pick it up again, God will never be "more happy" or "less happy" with you because of it. If Christ has paid your debt, God loves you as much now as He ever will. Better to lay aside your Bible completely than to live as if you're enslaved when God has delighted to set you free.

Question #2: What am I expecting out of this?

Sometimes, our personal expectations for what "quiet time" or "devotions" or whatever you want to call it should look like are just not realistic. Maybe we're trying to follow a formula created by one of today's big names in Christianity, or maybe we're comparing to the #blessed coffee shop Instagram photos of our friends, or maybe we are looking for a certain extra-spiritual feeling every day when we finish.

Maybe - and I have been guilty of this myself - we are coming to the Word each day expecting to hear the audible voice of God telling us His specific will for our lives, and when He doesn't, we think, "It's not working."

But that isn't what God's Word is for. The Bible isn't our Christian ouija board - it's a precious record of God's work in human history, and how that work has revealed His character to us. When we come to the Bible, we must come expecting to know God, because the Bible is about God - not necessarily to gain hyperspecific revelations about our own lives, because the Bible is not about us.

Question #3: Why am I finding this to be such a struggle?

It seems like a no-brainer, but one of the big questions you need to ask is just why? Why has the Bible seemed so dry lately? Why does it seem inaccessible or irrelevant?

When reading the Bible felt most difficult for me, this was the question I asked. And the answer actually changed the trajectory of my life. When I asked "Why?" the answer that I uncovered was this:

Because I know this Book contains the most vital and life-giving truth and wisdom in the world... but I don't know how to find it.

I didn't know how to study the Bible for myself. I didn't know that I was reading it wrong. I didn't know that I even could know, without going to seminary. But rectifying this big issue was important enough to me that I dedicated a year of my life to go to Bible school, and I have been in love with God's story ever since.

So with this question, you'll need to take time to self-reflect. Maybe your "why" is similar to mine. Or maybe it's because there's some festering sin in your life that is putting distance between you and God, or because you are coming to His Word from a place of guilt that won't let you receive His grace. There could be a million different reasons, but whatever yours is, you need to find it.

Question #4: How can I address the underlying issues?

Once you know what's really at the root of your lukewarm reception of God's Word, it's time to figure out what you can do about it in a practical sense. All the soul-searching in the world won't help you without taking action.

And the action required may be costly. For me, it meant moving 3,000 miles away from every single soul I had ever known (after having lived in the same tiny town my entire life) and letting God deconstruct and reshape me from the bottom up over the course of a year.

For you, it might mean letting go of a pet sin, or forgiving a long-ago hurt, or wrestling with your desire to trust yourself instead of God. It may cost you time, or pride, or tears, or loss.

But whatever it does cost you, it will be so worth it. I speak from experience.

Question #5: When might be a good time to shake things up?

Finally, in some seasons of boredom, it may turn out that you're just stuck in a rut.

If you've been bogged down in a chronological reading plan for two years, give yourself permission to set it aside and dig into something that actually excites you.

On the flip side, if you never know what to read next and just end up flipping through the pages as if you're trying to choose what to watch on Netflix, get on a new reading plan

Try doing your whole quiet time with just prayer and meditation for a few days - no new readings, just restfulness with God. Try taking a whole day or a whole week to be completely alone with your Bible, and see what He teaches you. Try reading aloud, or listening to an audio Bible.

Or, if you're really feeling brave, try teaching someone else a complete study or mini-sermon on a particular passage. In my experience, nothing brings old material to new life like trying to teach it to someone else!

If your Bible feels dry and heavy and difficult, you aren't alone.

And if, like me, you need to develop a little more confidence in your ability to understand it for yourself, you have come to the right place! My goal is always to provide excellent resources and encouragement for those who yearn for a better understanding of the Bible and knowledge of God. Make sure you join our community so you never miss a thing!

We all have those days when the Bible just seems dry and heavy and difficult to read. But it doesn't have to. Here are some questions you should be asking if it does. Learn more at www.halliewrites.com!

Hallie Liening

Olympia, WA

Hallie grew up on a small farm in rural eastern Washington. At 18, she moved across the country to go to Bible school, and then married the Boy Next Door at 20. Now 22, she is a graduate of Great Commission Bible Institute with a Certificate in Biblical Studies and resides in Olympia with her husband and her two cats. She survives the claustrophobia of living near the city by making frequent trips back home to visit her family and her horse, writing sentimental blog posts about the countryside, and by filling her house with photographs of Mt. Adams sunsets.