When reading the Bible isn’t working

  • Tara Sing
  • 5 November 2018

There are hundreds of Bible reading plans to choose from. I know because I have searched them, I have tried them, and I have failed them.

I start off so well, even reading ahead (just in case there’s a day I skip)… and then the days go by, and then the weeks go by… Before I know it, it has been months since I’ve stuck to my plan and I’m staring at multiple little empty checkboxes, feeling like I should just give up now and start again next year. Do you know that feeling?

But lately I have been trying something a little different, and I think it might be working.

I usually make a quick breakfast and pack my lunch every morning. I’m always in a rush so I multitask like mad. The egg is frying away, the bread is toasting, and simultaneously lunch is getting put in my bag. I just don’t know how I could have the time to sit down and physically turn through the pages of my Bible and read—that sounds like a luxury reserved for the holidays.

So instead, I now listen.

This is by no means revolutionary. Audio Bibles have been around for a long time, long before the days of iPhones and fancy Bible apps. But it doesn’t have to be revolutionary to be effective.

So in the mornings, as I cook eggs and pack lunches and do my hair, I listen to 1 Samuel. In the afternoons as I fold and pack away my washing, I can listen. In the evenings as I prepare dinner or wash dishes, I can listen to a few chapters. 

And it is wonderful. 

Listening to two or three chapters means that I am able to get a clearer idea of the narrative flow of the book. I am following the overall story, and I am enjoying seeing how God is faithful time and time again to his people, hearing how Israel makes mistakes over and over and yet God is forgiving. I am reminded of the power of God and the sovereignty of God. As I hear each chapter in an unfamiliar way, I am hearing the stories as if they are new.

This recent habit might not last forever. Who knows how I will be reading the Bible in six months time? But getting so hung up on the future that it handicaps my time with God in the present is not helpful. The important thing is not to follow a Bible reading plan, or persevere doggedly and fruitlessly at a particular method of Bible reading. The important thing is to be immersed in God’s word often, whatever that looks like. Right now, in this season of life, listening to the Bible as I prepare for the day is helping me to turn my attention to God and worship him. And isn’t that what reading the Bible is all about?