We’ve all been there. Reading the Bible can become boring. Our eyes are on the page but our minds are everywhere else; because everywhere else is just so much more interesting. That black book without pictures just isn’t quite so exciting as the black device that can show us anything in the world in just a click.  We may pick up our Bibles, open the pages, and scan the lines, but our hearts just aren’t in it. We force ourselves to read our chapter(s) or fill up our allotted time, but we really can’t wait to finish and get on to much more fascinating and enjoyable things.

It’s not good, is it? You know, it’s bad, but you don’t know what to do. Well, here are some ideas to help you re-ignite your Bible reading. If you have any strategies that have helped you, leave them in the comments box to help others too, will you?

1. Routine. If our Bible reading is not fixed for a particular time each day, and we’re just hoping a time slot appears, we’ll end up squeezing it into too small a space. Best to pick a time and get into a habit of reading each day at that time. If you are already in a good habit of reading at the same time each day, and your reading has become boring, the worst thing you can do is give up your routine and only “read as the Spirit moves.” You’ll hardly read at all then. Pick a time, and stick at it.

2. Sleep. No, not during your reading, but before it. Many times boredom sets in because we’re shattered with exhaustion and we just don’t have the energy to read in an interactive and profitable way. Get yourself a good 7-8 hours sleep each night and you’ll find that a much brighter mind will produce much brighter reading.

3. Ban the cellphone. If you check your phone before you check your Bible, the Bible is going to lose. The Internet and Social Media is crack cocaine for the brain. The Bible requires careful cutting, chewing, and digesting. The former is quick thrills; the latter is a slow roast. Check your Bible first and it won’t feel such a let down to your brain. And put your phone away as you read; even if it’s not pinging and buzzing, the brain sees it and is expecting it, causing further distraction.

4. Read a different version. Sometimes we’ve got too familiar with the words we’ve read many, many times. Why not read a different version alongside your favorite one, to jog your mind out of its normal ruts and make you see words and sentences in a fresh light.

5. Read more slowly (or quickly). If you are reading a chapter a day, slow down to just a few verses a day to make you think and meditate more (10 tips on meditation here). Or speed up for a time, reading more chapters more quickly in order to get a better overview of a book. Just change it up a bit. If you are in a difficult part of the Old Testament, add a few verses from the New each day.

6. Read a devotional first. Sometimes our hearts need to be warmed up. I usually sing or read part of a Psalm before reading my chapters in the Old and New Testament. You could read a daily devotional or sing a spiritual song to light up that cold heart.

7. Use a study Bible. I don’t advocate this as something to use all the time, because it’s important that we learn to think for ourselves when we read the Bible and not just have others think for us. Also, people can spend more time reading the notes than the Bible itself. But, now and again, for a few weeks at a time, you could use a study Bible or brief commentary to help you get excited about the Bible again.

8. Accountability. Ask your wife, husband, friend, to ask you about your Bible reading each day. If we know someone is going to ask us what we read and what we learned from our Bibles that day, that usually sharpens our concentration and therefore increases edification.

9. Need. If we don’t need something, we don’t value it. If I don’t see my need of the Bible, I won’t value it. I’ve always noticed that my periods of dull Bible reading usually coincide with dullness of soul. When I don’t see my sin, when I think I’m doing quite well really, then I don’t see the Bible as so essential to my life and well-being. But when I’m convicted of my sin and weakness, I then see the Bible as more necessary than my daily food and drink.

10. Remember who is speaking. Our listening depends on who is talking and what he or she is talking about. Before you start, remind yourself of who is speaking – God – and what He is speaking about – your eternal salvation.

11. Pray. Confess to God that you find reading the Bible boring. Ask him to show you if it’s because you are unconverted, and you need to be born again to get the spiritual sight and tastebuds to make you savor and relish His Word. Pray that He would open your eyes to see the beauty and wisdom of His Word. If you are a Christian, confess your coldness and deadness of heart, and ask for the Holy Spirit to enliven and inspire you again. Ask Him to show you if there is any sin that is keeping back His blessing.

12. Serve. If we’re only eating and not exercising, we’ll soon lose our appetite. But if we are serving God, seeking opportunities to bless His church, or witness to others, we exercise our souls, get hungry, see our need of strengthening and guidance, and we devour God’s Word more greedily.

What other ways have you found to re-ignite your Bible reading during seasons of dryness and deadness?

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  • Monica

    I have found that when I was in discipleship class a Sunday school class we had at my former church. You take a book of the Bible that you study or read daily and meditate on during the week and take a book or whatever you want to memorize, so everyday you are meditating and memorizing and bringing your thoughts to your study group each week and share your memory work and what you read struck you and you fed on all week. It’s amazing how much you glean from others and how memorizing is always in your heart. I worked on memorizing the book Philipeans, and now I recognize those verses when I hear them. You only need your Bible and a notebook too. No cost but time in God’s Word alone.

  • Tracy Newport

    I’m currently reading the Bible chronologically, using a book called The Chronological Guide to the Bible, published by Thomas Nelson, which works with any Bible translation. The writers have divided the Bible into nine epochs and provide historical and cultural context as well as the scriptural chronology. At the same time I’m also referring to Journey Through the Bible, by V. Gilbert Beers, which provides cultural background for the major stories in the Bible. Learning about the historical and cultural setting and context as I read the Bible makes scripture come alive for me.

    Something else that motivates me to sit down with my Bible is to remember that when you read scripture the words you are reading are not just passing before your eyes but are being taken into your heart, where they will actually change you. When the writer of Hebrews wrote “the word of God is alive and active” he meant it literally. Scripture literally dwells in you and actively changes you, and over time you can see this happening in your life. It’s an amazing gift from God.

    Finally, it’s imperative to pray before you start your Bible reading, as you have said in #11 above. Even Christians struggle to understand scripture if we haven’t asked the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and our heart to its meaning. When we ask him to help us, he makes it come alive for us.

  • Andrea

    Thank you so much for this post. It really gives great tips to keep your mind and soul fully engaged in God’s Word. This post was very helpful for me.

  • Tiffany Acuff

    Write down observations of the book/chapter you are reading. Or you can mark/write down certain things like all the times the Godhead is mentioned, the author is mentioned, or the audience is mentioned.

  • Heidi Pronk

    Journibles are also a great tool. Writing scripture out slows your reading down and helps with focus even when tired or distracted. On the opposite page I often write a short prayer related to the passage.

  • Johnny

    Thanks Dr. Murray. Maybe you can help me with something. I try to read the Bible through each year or so, but what I find especially difficult is, to be honest, the Pentateuch books. It’s not just miring through the Levitical laws that can be tiring, but even the countless genealogies and strange and oblique Mosaic laws that can really make getting through the Bible reading a chore, and that I also find difficult to draw application from. Any suggestions?

    • Laszlo

      Try C.H.Mackintosh’s Notes on the Pentateuch (http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/mackintosh/).
      It opens up a whole world of Christ-centred Law interpretation.

      It takes a while to get into, but it is one of the best books I have ever read.

  • Jon

    Great list. For more seasoned believers I would actually recommend expanding on the 7th point. Don’t just read a study Bible. Read a commentary. Read the text first of course so that you can meditate on it devotionally and increase your own skills of interpretation, but afterwards see what new insights you might glean from others who have put great study into it. All they are doing is helping you understand God’s word better, and hopefully helping to apply it as well.

    Sure, you’ve got to be careful not to let your devotional time become purely academic, but there are great benefits to be had from thinking deeply about the text and connecting dots that you did not see before. You have to slow down to perhaps a chapter a day so the load of material isn’t overwhelming, but the benefits are worth it and this has certainly helped to spark my devotional times when I began to feel too familiar with the Bible and popular-level teaching on it.

    This also greatly helps in reading those sections that we have a hard time reading (like OT laws or prophetic books), because the reason those sections are somewhat of a pain to read through is that we often don’t know the purpose of them.

    • http://www.knowableword.com/ Peter Krol

      Commentaries certainly help with deepening our understanding of difficult texts, but I agree with Dr. Murray that we need to learn to think for ourselves and not rely on study Bibles or commentaries in our devotional time. The point here is to re-ignite Bible reading and draw our attention back to the text and the God who spoke it.

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  • http://www.knowableword.com/ Peter Krol

    It seems like #4 is about trying different translations. I would suggest that using different editions (same translation, but with a different page layout) can also be helpful as they still get us away from the familiar pages we’ve read before. I especially recommend trying a Reader’s Version that eliminates potential distractions (section headings, verse numbers, etc.) and gives implicit permission to simply read and delight in the inspired biblical literature.

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  • http://www.ShazJones.com/ Shaz Jones

    Listening to worship music beforehand can really help, too.

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  • Jamir Grigsby

    Just what I needed…

    #2, #3, & #11..I definitely need to work on those!