How to Stop Feeling Like a Bible Study Failure

If you were busy and distracted and you accidentally skipped a meal, would you berate yourself?

Would you decide that since you skipped one meal, what was even the point of trying to eat regularly?

Would you come to the conclusion that you were just too busy to sit and eat?

No, because the thing that made you realize you skipped eating wouldn’t be shame… it would be hunger

Your first thought wouldn’t be to give up on eating, or to just skip the next meal too, or even to figure out a complicated plan to keep you from missing meals… your first thought would be, “Man! I’m HUNGRY!” 

And then? You would eat. 

The Word Himself said he was the Bread of Life and The Living Water. The perfect food for a hungry and dry spirit. 

But food only sustains our life if we regularly eat of it. 

So, how do we throw off the shame associated from so many days of Bible reading skipped, so many reading plans and Bible studies left unfinished? How do we find that hunger and nourish our souls like never before? 

Here are 7 thoughts to change your perspective and help you develop that deep hunger.God shines the light and opens eyes.

#1 God shines the light and opens eyes.

Over and over again in scripture we see that God holds both the power to shut and to open the eyes of His people. People who are not following Him are referred to as blind or walking in darkness (see Isaiah 6:10 and 8:22). 

In the dark, we stumble around at random, searching for something we cannot even see. There is no hope, no answers to be found in the darkness of this earth. 

Thank God that:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light: 
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.” -Isaiah 9:2

We don’t have to claw around in the darkness, trying to find our way on our own. God delights in shining light and opening eyes. 

He loves for His children to come to Him with a humble heart, willing to receive His Word. Ask Him to open your eyes. Ask Him to make Psalm 119:105 true for you:

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

#2 The power isn’t found in one day.

So often, I would find myself knowing that I needed to read the Bible that day, but not quite sure where to start. So, I would think through what I thought I needed to receive from God’s Word based upon how I felt or what I was going through. Or, I would just choose a passage or book at random. 

However, I would find myself feeling like I was missing something. Wasn’t reading the Bible supposed to make a difference in my day? 

Then, at the beginning of this year, I decided to try a through the Bible in a year reading plan. And, now about halfway through, here is what I have discovered: 

The power of reading God’s Word isn’t necessarily found in that one day’s reading, but is built up over days, weeks, months, and even years of faithfully showing up. 

Just like one day of healthy eating isn’t going to magically make you feel great that day, but is built up with a lifestyle of eating nourishing food, being nourished on God’s Word over the long term is what grows you stronger and healthier spiritually. 

Even on the days where you miss your Bible reading, the Holy Spirit can take something your eyes were opened to months ago and bring it to you when you need it that day. 

So, my encouragement to you is to keep going, keep digging, keep looking for God in the pages of His wonderful Word. Push on past the missed days, the confusing days, and the boring days.

Keep going through the days you just skim the passage, the days you nod off while reading, and the days you do it just to check off a box for the day. 

Keep reading, soaking it in, eating it up, and hiding it away in your heart. And trust that God will show up.

#3 God’s story makes a lot more sense when you read it as one.

Even though I have read in the Bible for years, and even have a Bible degree, I had not ever read the entire Bible chronologically. Now that I am I can see clearly that reading the Bible chronologically as one big story makes it so much easier to see how absolutely fascinating it is, makes it easier to see the connections through all the books, and, most importantly, makes it easier to see how God is working through it all.

When you read the whole Bible in the order it happened, you get drawn into the story, which naturally leaves you wanting more. Yes, you do have to march through the “boring” parts: genealogies, laws and more laws, and many many battles. However, as you read them you not only begin to see why these things are actually important, you also discover how captivating so many of these stories really are.

Like the latest action thriller novel, you can’t wait to turn the page to see the next part of God’s story. 

For the first time, so many pieces are falling together and books that were previously confusing are so much clearer when read with an understanding of what is happening at that time. I was even surprised to see that when I turned to Matthew 1 for my son’s Bible lesson, that opening genealogy was no longer a list of random names, but a list of people’s stories that I had a connection with

Side note: if you’ve never done a chronological reading plan, I highly recommend following along with The Bible Recap podcast. It is a very short podcast that follows a reading plan. It brings additional insight and really helps you to learn to look for how God is working in the pages of His Word. 

#4 The reading plan serves you, not the other way around. 

How many times have you started a Bible study or a reading plan and then life inevitably happens and you miss a day… or twelve. 

What happens then? It is so easy to just. give. up. 

Might as well skip another day since I’ve already skipped so many.

Maybe this just isn’t the right reading plan for me, I’ll have to do some research and find a new one.

I’m so far behind, why even try?

We know these thoughts are self defeating and even downright silly sometimes, but yet time and time again we can get trapped by them.

But what if we stopped looking at our plan as a list of what we MUST do, or what we were SUPPOSED to do, and instead view it as our next step – no matter how long we were on the step before?

Whether we are moving slowly or quickly is irrelevant. All we need to do is take the next step, read the next passage. 

Our Bible reading isn’t pleasing to God because we check all the boxes, or get through the plan, or don’t skip any days. Our mediation is pleasing to God because it causes us to find joy in Him. 

“May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.” -Psalm 104:34

One more note on using a through the whole Bible reading plan – it eliminates decision fatigue. Choosing what to read each day (or even each time you end a book), presents just one small roadblock to actually reading. It may seem counter-intuitive to choose a longer plan when you are short on time, but it is actually easier to not have to worry about what you will be reading next for all that time! 

#5 What you feed yourself, you crave.

Have you ever heard that saying in relation to your diet?

If you feed yourself a steady diet of junk food, you will inevitably crave more junk food. However, the less junk food you eat and the more healthy food you eat, the more your body will crave that healthy food. 

The same sentiment can be applied for anything we “feed” ourselves. 

The more you show up for your daily meal of God’s Word – the more you crave it, the more that habit is built, and the more you feel the void when you miss it. 

That means, on the days we aren’t feeling it, the days when it doesn’t seem to be making a difference, or what we are reading doesn’t make sense – we keep going. 

#6 Fancy or complicated doesn’t mean better.

If you based your goals for time with God totally on the photos found on Instagram, you might think you need silent early mornings with candle-light and the latest gorgeous study materials to be doing it “right.” And while these things aren’t inherently bad, these expectations can also get in the way of actually getting in the Word routinely. 

We need to let go of the perfect “quiet time” and bring God’s Word into our real, whole lives. Our relationship with God isn’t relegated to one 30 minute chunk of time in the morning (see more HERE). 

Don’t feel like you need an expensive Bible, an elaborate set-up, or perfect system. A Bible, a pencil, and a heart humble to seek God is all that is necessary. 

#7 Whatever you must give up to gain God’s Word is worth the trade off.

You may be giving something up, but ultimately you are gaining more than you could ever give. 

Scrolling social media, enjoying an afternoon cup of coffee, listening to music in the car, sleeping an extra 20 minutes… there’s always something and its always worth it. How could the living Word of the One, True God be replaceable by anything else? 

It’s a marathon.

Bible reading is not a sprint. It’s a lifetime of slow and fast, of skimming through and soaking up, of looking for Him on the pages of His Word.

We need to change the way we view that time with God. It’s not something we “need” to do, it’s something He has graciously done for us.

So, throw off the shame, it’s only holding you down. He doesn’t desire you to feel shame for what you lack, but to look to Him as He satisfies your hunger.

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