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Why Don’t I Read My Bible?

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

When I was 13 years old, I found the Bible boring. It put me to sleep when I tried reading it at night. So, I didn’t bother trying to read it again, until I was 20 years old. And then only because I was challenged to do so, as a part of a perceived pious duty towards God.

Why do we find it hard to read the Bible? Even when we want to do so as part of our commitment to knowing and serving God? Are our hearts bad? Is the Bible just boring?

The problem is in fact not with our hearts or the Bible. The problem is with our understanding.

In high school, I found that the courses that I didn’t enjoy were the ones that I didn’t understand. I found them confusing, and boring, and the more confused and bored I became the less motivated I was to read the course material. It was a vicious cycle.

Later in life, with the benefit of a more open mindset, and perhaps the help of different teachers and course materials, I discovered that I could understand some of the subjects I abhorred in high school. Suddenly they were not confusing and boring, but I was excited to learn and to discover knowledge that was previously hidden from me.

What made the difference? It wasn’t really that I or the subject content had changed. What changed was my understanding. Or better, my ability to understand changed, opening doors to a renewed interest and motivation to learn.

Similarly, the reason we find it hard to read the Bible is because we find it boring and / or confusing. And we find it boring and confusing because we don’t understand it.

We don’t understand it because it is an ancient book written thousands of years ago to people in cultures very different to our own, in places often very different and far away from our own. We also don’t understand it because it is written using different literary styles than we are familiar with. And perhaps most fundamentally, we don’t understand it because we fail to appreciate what kind of book it is. That it is a composite of different ancient documents, written by different authors, in different places, over different periods of time. And these documents have been miraculously weaved together to tell a coherent overarching story of God’s desire to bless and dwell with humankind for eternity.

We need help to understand all of this and how to read and understand the Bible in light of it.

But shouldn’t the Bible be easy to understand? Shouldn’t we be able to understand it without any help or instruction?

Says who?

In Acts 8, we read of “an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the Kandake (which means ‘queen of the Ethiopians’)” who “had gone to Jerusalem to worship and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet” (Acts 8:27-28 NIV 2011).

It is obvious that this man was seeking after God. Despite being an important official with a lot of responsibilities (and presumably being very busy), he makes the time to travel far to another country in his search for God. There he invests his wealth in purchasing a copy of the Book of Isaiah (not a cheap purchase in his time). And he is so interested in his purchase that he is reading it in his chariot on his way home!

And yet, when asked by Philip (a Christian sent by God to the eunuch to help him), “Do you understand what you are reading?”, the eunuch responded, “How can I … unless someone explains it to me?” (Acts 8:30-31 NIV 2011). He then invited Philip into his chariot to sit with him and asked him in relation to the passage that he was reading (Isaiah 53:7-8), “Tell me, please who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” (Acts 8:34-35 NIV 2011).

This exchange recorded for us in the book of Acts makes clear that desire, effort, and even reading is not enough to enable us to understand the Bible. We also need help from more experienced guides to help us to understand. God is of course willing and able to send us guides like Philip to help us, but like the eunuch, we must first recognize that we need help to understand.

The story ends with Philip explaining to the eunuch that the passage he was reading was speaking about Jesus and telling him the good news about Jesus. As a result, the eunuch is baptized and went on his way rejoicing.

What transformation and joy awaits us if we also can understand what we are reading in the Bible? At Scripture Window our mission is to help readers of the Bible do just that, teaching them how to read the Bible for themselves, by equipping them with the tools to unlock the meaning of scripture so that they can see God through scripture. The aim is to help others become self-directed learners who can like the Ethiopian eunuch go on their way rejoicing and sharing with others the understanding they have come to.

In my own journey, learning how to read the Bible has led to understanding where there was confusion and passion where there was boredom. I no longer fall asleep when I read the Bible. In fact, I come alive most when I am reading it. I can’t wait to read it every day. And my greatest joy now is to help others on their own journey to come to understand what they are reading in the Bible and to find transformation and joy as a result. Join us on this journey.


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