One might naturally assume that Christians wouldn't have to be told to study their Bibles. But that is not the case. Here are 10 reasons Christians give for not reading and studying their Bibles (in no particular order of importance):
- “I've studied it before so I think I know it.” Many were taught the Bible stories in Sunday school and church and so they think, “Been there, done that, what else is there?”
- “It's hard work!” For some who aren't readers anyway or who have difficulties such as dyslexia it is even harder.
- “It's better when the professionals do it. I don't know how to study it so I'd rather hear what Chuck Swindoll has to say than what I get out of it.” People wonder why they should study when Chuck gets more out of words like “if,” “and,” or “but” than they do out of a whole chapter!
- “I wonder if it doesn't really matter. Lots of other people don't read the Bible and they are nice people.”
- “I don't get any guidance from it and don't know how to apply it to my life. I have a hard time seeing the relevance to today.”
- I don't understand what I read. I don't know if I should take it literally or how to interpret the metaphorical language. So I don't know where to start.”
- “With all the demands of a busy family I'm too tired to focus and really think.”
- “I don't see instant results or the benefit of studying versus reading.”
- “It demands a response and I might have to change.”
- “I don't have time and am too busy.”
- I'm going let you most of you off the hook here. I don't believe God expects us all to be Bible scholars. Most of us just aren't wired or have time to do the kind of in-depth, comprehensive and detailed study that professionals do. But He does expect us to “study” in the sense of observing attentively and scrutinizing Scripture. He wants us to think deeply, reflect, and consider intently what He has said in the Word. All of us can do that. Granted some of us might need help to get more out of the Bible.
Here are 10 things that might help:
- Hunger more. Admit your lack of desire and ask God to give you a new hunger for His Word. Just as you will die if you have no desire for food and so don't eat, you will shrivel up spiritually without taking in the Word. God will give you that desire.
- Turn off. Many things, like computers and TVs, can distract your focus. By turning them off you can give your undivided attention to Scripture. And don't make the mistake of thinking that Christian music is a substitute for getting into the Bible. It's good to listen to Christian music, but it doesn't teach. We may be singing about God's grace, but we don't understand it better apart from reading and studying Scripture.
- Have a place. Try to always do your reading at the same place every day.
- Make time. Read on your lunch break at work, while you ride the bus, pedalling the stationary bike, or replace some TV watching. If reading isn't possible, try audio Bibles. After all, much of the Bible was meant to be received audibly first. YouVersion is a Bible app for smartphones allowing you to read or hear Scripture and www.bible.com is a website offering the same features.
- Ask God. As you read or hear Scripture pray and ask God's Holy Spirit to help you understand it. And when you don't understand something, relax and ask God to show you what it means.
- Go slower. We are always in a hurry. Don't just read lots of verses you've read before and skim the surface. Try concentrating on just one verse.
- Look closer. Observe the words and phrases used. Use a study Bible that helps explain things. You'll see things you never saw before.
- Think deeper. Be mentally engaged. Be curious. Ask, “How does this relate to other Scriptures I know? How does it relate to Christ?” Reflect on it. Bite off a small piece and mentally chew it.
- Share more. Talk to other Christians about things you are reading. Tell them what you're learning. Ask them for their perspective.
- Apply it. Always try to come away with some particular point of application: something you need to learn, start doing, or stop doing.
It's never too late to start a good habit, and studying your Bible is one of the best habits you'll ever have. Best of all you don't have to be a Bible scholar to do it.