Michael Hyatt wrote a good blog post a couple of days ago entitled “How to Read the Bible and Enjoy It.” I liked Hyatt’s takeaways, and if you want to go check them out you can do so by clicking here. But the post sort of led me to a place of putting into words a process I've been going through in my own life.
As I skimmed Hyatt’s post, I started thinking about my own engagement with the Bible, and what can really only be described as a season in my life where I’ve struggled to find real passion in reading the Bible.
That’s right. I said it. For a variety of reasons, the last year or so I couldn’t always, or often, seem to muster the spiritual energy to pick up my Bible and really engage God. So often it felt laborious.
Can you relate to this?
I’ve had to fight through this spiritual funk, plain and simple. There wasn’t a particular moment where the clouds parted, light shone down, and I was “cured.” It has been a slog. And there are times where I still feel a bit deflated. But I’m in a much better place now, and have had some time to reflect on some of what has helped me regain my passion for encountering God through His Word.
I wanted to share some of what helped me. I’d love to hear any thoughts you have, as well.
We bring a lot of baggage to our time in Bible Study. One thing I had to make myself do was not think about the next article, or lesson, or sermon I might pull from a passage, but instead, make myself focus on encountering God in the pages of Scripture. I had to separate Bible Study from lesson prep. It became less about “study” and more about hanging out with God.
I empowered my friends and my wife to ask me if I had been reading the Bible. Ouch. Nothing like looking sheepishly at my wife and saying, “no.” But you know what? I never regretted the mornings I begrudgingly read my Bible because I knew my buddies would ask me.
Hyatt suggests in his article to read the Bible the same time every day. I get this. I do. But for me, I needed to break out of some of the “habitual” aspects of what I had always done. So over the last year or so, I changed it up. I started listening to audio versions of Scripture through the YouVersion app while I was jogging. I used devotional books instead of my Study Bible. I did a few short reading plans I found on-line. I switched back to my print Bible instead of my iPad. I utilized an off-the-shelf “study.” I embraced variety. Why? Because sometimes routine can become too routine.
I can’t tell you how many times over the last year I started my personal time in devotion with a prayer that went something like this: “God, there is nothing in me right now that wants to be doing this. Help.” And I don’t know if you know this, but God is pretty awesome. More often than not, that simple prayer shut up the “me” in me and made room to hear God.
Gasp!!! I know, I know . . . How dare I suggest that our time in Bible Study would be anything other than a mountain top experience, each and every time we open the Book!? (I wish there was a sarcasm font.) Here's the thing . . . If over the last year, I decided not to read my Bible every time I didn’t feel like it, there would be a whole lot of mornings where I wouldn’t have read the Bible. Our sin nature is so strong. And some mornings, opening my Bible when I didn’t really “feel” like it was the best thing I could do. The very practice of setting aside time to engage with the Bible is a small victory over my flesh, regardless of how meaningful that time might feel.
So, those are some ways I have sort of re-captured my desire to encounter God through reading the Bible.
I hope it helps you in some way. And, again, I’d love to hear your thoughts on any struggles or any successes you’ve had.