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How to Dig Yourself out of a Bible-Reading Rut

In college, I remember a piece of surprising advice. I remember thinking, “Is that something a Christian is allowed to say?”

A friend shared how reading the Bible had gotten boring and monotonous for him. To which someone suggested he stop reading the Bible for a season.

Say, what!?

I’m surprised my friend didn’t turn into a pillar of salt after giving that advice.

But many years later, I get the underlying principle. Sometimes you just need to shift things up when you’re in a dry season.

To maximize the Word’s impact on our lives, we need a consistent habit. But to keep that habit from going stale, we need to vary our approach so our reading remains fresh.

So here are some different ideas to try if you find yourself in a Bible-reading rut.

Do the opposite of what you’re used to.

If you’ve ever taken a cold shower, you know the instant shock your body feels. No matter how tired you were, all your senses are heightened and your mind is fully engaged.

Sometimes going to the other extreme is just what the doctor order to inject new life into your Bible reading.

Take inventory of your Bible-reading preferences and do the opposite.

  • If you tend to read when you wake up, try reading before bed.
  • If you read from the YouVersion Bible App, try an audio or physical Bible.
  • If you follow reading plans, do something with less structure.
  • If you typically read a few verses at a time, try reading a chapter or more.
  • If you lean towards shorter reading plans, try a longer one.
  • If you like reading a book at a time, try reading about a specific topic or person instead.
  • If you always read for practical application, try reading to understand the historical context (use a commentary to guide you).
  • If you normally read in bed, try reading at the kitchen table.

Read from a daily devotional.

Devotionals are typically rich with practical application and wisdom in a short, easy-to-digest format. If you’re still feeling “hungry” after your normal reading, they’re a great supplement. Kind of like taking a spiritual vitamin!

A couple ones I recommend are Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest and John Piper’s Solid Joys.

Ask yourself these questions …

A quick way to get into a Bible rut is to read without any purpose or goal in mind. Remember, we read to grow closer to God, learn how to be more like Christ, and position our hearts to hear from Him.

Give your reading more purpose by asking yourself any combination of these questions:

  • What can I learn about God’s character?
  • What stands out?
  • What doesn’t make sense?
  • Is God convicting or challenging me in any way?
  • How can I apply this in my own life?
  • Is there anybody I could encourage with this reading?

Give journaling a shot.

After each reading, write down what you learned. Use the questions above as possible journaling topics.

You could also try the S.O.A.P. method of journaling.

  • Scripture: Choose a specific verse or passage.
  • Observation: Why did it stand out? What did you notice about it?
  • Application: How can you apply the verse to your life?
  • Prayer: Say an appropriate prayer based on that verse.

For each reading, create those four sections and jot down the answers. Write as little or as much as you want.

Now some of these ideas will feel unnatural and awkward when you first start. But that’s okay. You’re exercising a new spiritual muscle. It’ll take a bit of time to get used to it, but commit to it for at least two weeks.

If you’re still not feeling it, move on to something else.

Have the attitude that everything is an experiment! You’re not locked into any one thing for the rest of your life. Keep trying new things and I pray God will use them to ignite a deeper love for His Word.

What are some other ideas you have for reading the Bible in different ways? 

Photo courtesy of davidd.

8 replies on “How to Dig Yourself out of a Bible-Reading Rut”

You’ve written a lot about Bible readings and I read a post about reading plans. Do you know the origin of one year plans? Why are evangelical Christians stuck on one year to get through the Bible? Could this annual ritual of individual reading be inoculating us from the power of reading slower and in community more?

i’m not sure the origin story of the one year reading plan. i don’t personally find any issue with it. if anything, i think it’s a worthwhile goal everyone should do at least once.

imho, following a bible plan isn’t inherently a bad thing. people just need to be mindful of the pros/cons. the pros being it’s structured and gives people direction. the con being it can often make people too rigid in their approach. or place unnecessary pressure to “finish on time.”

after some of my own ups and downs with reading plans, i’ve learned to be more flexible with them. follow them for direction but allow myself to go as slow or as fast as i want.

the end goal is not to finish on time. the end goal is to be in God’s Word consistently. so if i miss a reading or only get through one verse, it’s no big deal.

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