Bible Reading Guilt is a real thing. I know it is because I feel it everytime I hear someone tell me all about how they’re reading through the bible in one year, or having these amazing quiet times. All. The. Time.
Why can’t I be more like them? Why can’t I read the bible just like them? Seriously, it’s like some kind of mental block has occured, and in that moment, I hate myself for it.
Have you ever been there? Are you feeling it right now. Because I know I am.
But there is good news for all of us people facing Bible Reading Guilt.
We do not need to struggle, It is possible to find freedom from it.
The Two Reasons for Bible Reading Guilt
But before I go any further, I want to explain what I think are the two main reasons for bible reading guilt.
The shame of comparison: We need to slow down
We compare ourselves to the people we think are doing better than our selves. Guilt creeps in as we continue down this path, and at some point along it we forget that we are not them. Maybe we simply do not have as much time to read the bible as them, perhaps because of work or family commitments. Or maybe our emotions are in turmoil and we do not have the head space to intensively study the bible at this point in time. God understands this. He is our friend, and real friends understand when we do not have as much time to give to a relationship as we would like. In this situation we need to slow down.
We are genuinely being convicted: We need to knuckle down.
We do actually have the time and the space to read the bible, but for whatever reason we just not doing it. Maybe it seems like a steep mountain to climb; maybe reading the bible terrifies us; or we just don’t know where to begin. Whatever reason it is, we can overcome it. God has forgiven you for when you haven’t given him as much time as you should. But, in this situation we may need to knuckle down.
For the times you need to slow down
Take small steps. Don’t bite of more than you can chew. Focus on qualtily not quanitity. You probably could race through a couple of champters. But would you remember any of it? Might it be better to just slow down.
Try reading just one verse, try writing it out or sticking it somewhere that you will see it regularly.
Try listening to good Christian music. Lots of these songs are filled bible verses and words of encouragement. Listening to these songs is a great way of getting God’s word deep into you. Spotify is a great place to start, or listening to a Christian radio station such as UCB.
Get into a habit of talking to God throughout the day. Tell him about the little things you are going through, Keep him at the centre of everything that is happening.
Tell him about your struggle. Tell him about why you are struggling. True friends understand when you are unable to give as much as you would like in a relationship for whatever reason. God understands as well.
Just be still and know that he is God. I know this is an easy thing to say, but when I was going through a tough time I would just picture myself in the arms of Jesus. I think that was all my mind could cope with at that time, but in doing that I found peace.
For the times you need to knuckle down.
Be encouraged rather than guilt tripped by other people’s success. They are only human beings too. If they can do it then so can you!
Try reading a Christian biography. Reading about someone who’s life has been transformed by the bible, is a great way to be spurred on to read yourself.
Invest in a bible with wide margins, so you have space to write or draw.
Use a bible reading plan, or don’t. Whatever you prefer. There are no rules when it comes to reading the bible. But having a plan can be useful for a lot of people.
Join a church home group (or cell group, or small group, or life group, or connect group or whatever other crazy name your church gives for groups of people who get together in each others homes to read the bible and pray together.) This is a safe space where you are able to talk about the bits of the bible you find hard to understand. Other people can encourage you, and even better… You get to be an encouragement to them as well.
Just do it. Every single day. Whether that means setting your alarm a bit earlier, or carving out some other time in the day. Make time for reading the bible, and commit to it. And when you don’t manage to, don’t feel guilty about it. Each day is a new one.
Try starting a blog. I know this sounds a bit of a weird one, but I couldn’t not share it. Blogging has really helped me crystalize my thinking in a lot of areas, because I can’t share something, unless I am sure it is what I really believe. And I often can’t know that, without going back to the bible.
It doesn’t matter if you continue to struggle in this area for the rest of your life. In Christ you are a new creation, there is no shame or condemnation. You do not need to feel guilty, no matter how many times you mess up, as long as you are actively seeking him.
11 thoughts on “How to Overcome Bible Reading Guilt”
pinned to Christian Living board. Very encouraging post. I love that you brought us (readers) to positive conclusion and advised to look at other people’s successes as encouragement! Keep blogging for Christ!!
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Thanks Tammy, pleased that you found it useful
This is so encouraging!
I had planned to read through the Bible this year. I got sidetracked in February. Rather than wait until New Years, I started back September 1. I’m reading at my pace rather than comparing myself to others.
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That’s great 😀
Just the other day I was telling someone about how this words is almost always translated to mean one thing, except in one place where it would radically change our understanding of how to apply the word to our lives, so it’s translated differently. How another word usually has a stronger connotation of leadership is translated to mean “servant” in one specific place – and it used to be translated as “leader” until they realized that the person referred to was a woman and not a man. I know of places where verses were added to, taken from, had words transposed, had it’s order altered … that’s not counting that other orthodox churches recognize books that we do not. When it comes down to the finer details, I’m not sure they are that trustworthy; in particular the translation to English – or a specific translation into Portuguese – that one was muddled and mangled. Spanish wasn’t too bad, it has some features our language does not that clarified some parts of some stories that English tends to miss.
I’m a bit confused by this comment, maybe you commented on the wrong blog?
Nope – it relates to guilt about reading the Bible – I’m not sure I trust it given what I know about it.
I started reading The One Year Chronological Bilbe in February and I am only up to March 11th. Some days I read just a paragraph and chew on it all day long, other times it is a whole days worth or more.
I have read the Bible through several times so I’m in no hurry to rush through it as if it is another thing to check off my to do list.
Savor every word, taste it, chew on it, digest it and let it nourish you.
Great article Alice.
I appreciate all the useful suggestions – everyone is in a unique season of life. What works in one season might not in the next.
My husband has read through Proverbs 8+ times (to be candid, I forget how many times) and he shares insights as he works through… If you have someone in your life who is in a season digesting Scripture, perhaps team up with that person… or be that person! (Sometimes we do things for others that we might not do for ourselves.)
Also – this might sound odd, but I’m finding children’s books a lovely source of Scripture. As I sit with our little almost-two-year-old, and look at the pictures in his toddler Bible, it fills me with such joy.
Great ideas! I always tell ladies as long as they do the next step in obedience, God will be pleased. I lead a FB group that reads the Bible through chronologically on Facebook each year, and I don’t want it to be a frustrating experience. One step at a time! Sharing on Pinterest.
I never feel guilty when some one states that they have a plan to read the entire Bible through in a year, because I have my own approach to Bible Study. The first thing is that I understand that speed reading through the Bible isn’t the very best policy, you wind up missing out on quite a bit if you do that. As an analytical person, I instead find myself studying passages verse-by-verse. I pick the text apart, compare one text with another, spend time looking into Greek & Hebrew words when necessary, look at all of the surrounding texts, etc. I’ve linked back to two posts on my blog which accurately depicts my thinking on this subject.
Thus when somebody is like, “I’m reading through the entire Bible in a year” it doesn’t really make much of a difference to me, as I understand that we’ve each got a different approach to that aspect of our devotional lives. I just feel that more is gained from one verse studied until I understand it’s relation to my life and salvation than from reading the entire Bible through in a year. I also love topical studies, where I take a concordance or Bible search engine and look up words or concepts in Scripture. You might find that this is better than reading the Bible through in a year yourself.