As my small group talked about reading our Bibles in the season of early parenthood with little kids needing us all the time, the phrase “supposed to” popped up more than once—and heads nodded in agreement. These women wanted to want to read their Bibles, but it didn’t always happen. Does that sound familiar to you?
It’s a common struggle for believers. We know reading Scripture is good for us—we know we’re “supposed to”—but when the choice to read doesn’t come with feelings of enjoyment, or when we end up choosing other things, we sink into guilt and discouragement.
Only later did the irony of our conversation occur to me: these believers who were lamenting how hard it is to engage with Scripture were doing just that. Right then. Together.
Guilt: True or False?
Where does this sense of guilt come from? You know the thoughts: I should want to read my Bible. I should be reading my Bible more often. I should be getting more out of it. And while some of these considerations are good and helpful, awakening us to our tendency to hunger for things other than God, some may be rooted in false guilt.
In Western Christian culture, we’ve come to assume certain components for our Bible reading. Solitude. Silence. An hour or two of reading, study, meditation, and prayer. Good coffee in an inspirational mug. Perhaps some soft worship music in the background. But these aren’t biblical requirements for engaging God’s Word, nor are they realistic for everyone. (Like this mom whose kids are screaming in the background.)
These believers who were lamenting how hard it is to engage with Scripture were doing just that. Right then. Together.
When we feel bad about our engagement with Scripture, we might not have a God-given reason to. Why? Because there’s no command in the Bible about having a daily “quiet time” in the way we may have come to understand it.
Beyond Quiet Time
True, as individuals, we won’t grow in our hunger for God apart from personally knowing him and loving his Word. We should regularly spend time engaging Scripture. But if we limit our engagement to this individualized “quiet time” format—even without realizing it—we not only fall into false guilt and discouragement but also miss many creative (and biblical) ways of nourishing our souls with God’s Word. Here are two.
1. Feast with your church.
The first and primary way believers can engage with the Bible is alongside our church families in the weekly worship service. This is our main spiritual meal. I argue this because of what the Bible is: God’s words directed to God’s people. The Bible wasn’t primarily written to individuals but to the church—the gathered people of God.
When you think about engaging with your Bible, do you include attending weekly worship? A sound church will prioritize worship with God’s Word at the center, feast on Scripture together, and strengthen one another in the Word of Christ for the week ahead. We do this through singing the Word, praying the Word, reading the Word, and hearing the Word preached.
No church is perfect. But if you’re disconnected from church, or if your church isn’t consuming the Scriptures in your weekly gathering, you’re missing out on the meal that matters most to your spiritual health. It’s never too late to connect or make a change.
2. Find a fresh method.
For years I’d been using the same Bible reading plan, and it was a good one. But I was bored with it, and I was becoming bored with my Bible too. Something had to change.
One evening my senior pastor taught a class on “a fresh, varied, and original walk with God,” and what I heard felt like freedom. He said something like this: “There is no one ‘right’ way to meet with the Lord in Scripture. And if you find yourself getting bored with your routine, switch it up.” This was the wise nudge I needed to do something different. My pastor was advocating for creativity, not a one-size-fits-all approach to the idea of quiet time.
If you struggle with wanting to read your Bible and you don’t know why, if you’re tired from following the same plan (like I was), or if you’re having trouble climbing out from the guilt hole of “supposed tos,” make a change. Listen to an audio Bible. Try a new reading plan. Read alongside a friend or memorize verses with your children. Sing Scripture-based songs. Join a Bible study group. Turn on a sermon while you commute or clean the house. There are many ways we can engage Scripture.
If you struggle with wanting to read your Bible and you don’t know why, make a change.
Whether we’re feasting on Scripture with our church or finding fresh ways of engaging with God on our own, we want our souls to be satisfied in the Lord. We want to keep hungering for Christ and for his words. Rejecting boredom and apathy in favor of delight and desire, we want to feed ourselves on the best food there is—the living Word of the living God.