Does Bible reading frustrate you? Do certain issues, roadblocks, or questions keep you from reading the Bible more often than you do?
In the 2023 State of the Bible report, “Bible users” were asked about their top frustrations with Bible Reading on their own. (Note: This annual report is compiled by the American Bible Society. They define “Bible Users” as adults who read the Bible at least 3 times a year outside church.)
Here’s a quick breakdown of the 6 specific frustrations by percentages:
- 26% said “Not enough time”
- 17% said “Don’t know where to start”
- 16% said “Lack of excitement about reading the Bible”
- 15% said “Difficult relating to language” of the Bible
- 9% said “Layout (of Bible) difficult to navigate
- 8% said “Stories are confusing”
Some Practical Help for these Frustrations
You may experience some of these same frustrations. I want to help by sharing some resources and direction for each of the frustrations named in the list. (We will save “not enough time” for last!) The Bible can be difficult to understand, but the good news is, with just a few practical tools and basic resources you can approach the Bible with confidence.
If you struggle with a “lack of excitement,” you may find this frustration falls away when you handle the other frustrations. Because, the more you understand Scripture, the more you’ll experience God. And that my friend, is exciting! So, here we go:
- Where to start – If you’ve never read the Bible before or read very little, I suggest you start with the Gospel of Mark. It’s action-filled and fast-paced and All about Jesus! (If you’d like a little guidance for reading this book, see the meaty devotional book “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark.“) I also highly recommend you find and use a Bible Reading Plan. You can find a variety of them on BibleGateway, You Version Bible App, and BibleStudyTools. But, I also have READING PLANS on my website. Go to the FREE RESOURCES page, click on “Bible Reading Plans” to expand the drop down menu and see the options. I have lots of year-long reading plans and a couple of short-term thematic ones. If you aren’t ready to commit to a year, each of the “Book-by-Book” year-long plans are comprised of multiple books. You can simply choose one book to read through.
- Language of the Bible hard to understand – This is an easy fix. There are a wide variety of Bible translations. (See “Why Are There so Many Bible Translations?“) My favorite easy-to-understand translation is the New Living Translation (NLT). If you’ve been reading the KJV, ESV, NASB, etc. then you would benefit from a less formal and more dynamic translation like the NLT. If you find the NLT still a bit difficult, try a paraphrase like The Message. Although not technically a translation, it will help you understand!
- Bible layout difficult to navigate – For many of us, the Bible is not organized in a logical manner. Most books are chronological in nature. They tell us a story in order. But the Bible is arranged more in categories. See “How is the Bible Organized” to find out more about how it’s put together. But, even thought the Bible isn’t arranged chronologically you can still read it in chronological order. Here is my year-long “Chronological Reading Plan” free to download. Or, you can buy a Chronological Bible! Check out this large-print NLT Chronological Bible on Amazon!
- Stories of the Bible are confusing – The stories in the Bible can be confusing and strange. Not only has a lot of time passed since the events of the Bible occurred, but we live in a very different culture. However, there are tons of resources to help us understand the differences of time and culture. My favorite print resource is the IVP Bible Background Commentary. Check out the New Testament volume and the Old Testament volume. But a tremendous FREE resource is the Bible Project. This site has video overviews for every book of the Bible, (see this one on the Gospel of Mark), videos on themes of the Bible, and more!
Use Solid Bible Study Techniques
There are some general reading/study principles that apply no matter where in the Bible you plan to read. If you arm yourself with the basics you will quickly discover you not only understand the Bible more, but that you also enjoy it! I have tons of resources on my website that can equip you with solid Bible study principles and tools. But the best place to begin is to take a look at the basic inductive Bible study method I teach, the “4 R Bible Study Method for Everyday Use.“
“Not enough time” for Bible Reading
“Insufficient time” was the single most prevalent frustration. This is a very real problem. We live in a culture that idolizes busyness and encourages us to overly commit ourselves and our children. It’s okay to say “NO” sometimes. It really is.
I acknowledge that there are some limited busy seasons in our lives when all the activity is from God. But this will be the exception rather than the rule. From beginning to end in Scripture, God calls us to know Him, to meditate on His Word, to sit in His presence. If we are too busy to obey His call then our priorities need to be re-evaluated. In the end, we usually make the time to do the things that mean the most to us.
So, what is your biggest frustration in Bible reading and study? Let’s talk about it!