Speaking from a protestant perspective, the Holy Bible is the final authority for faith and practice.  Moreover, it is God’s ultimate communication to us.  However, there are a number of Christians who struggle with reading the Bible.  In fact, you might be one of them and find it difficult to engage with on an in-depth and consistent level.  Now, I confess, I have always enjoyed reading the Bible .  But even in my zeal, I have found dry times.  As I contemplate various reasons for the ennui based on observations of others and many conversations as well as my own life experiences, I think that one or more of these reasons could account for it.

1.  Lack of Understanding: for some, reading the Bible is like the reading comprehension portions on standardized tests, the kind that includes a bunch of technical terms, themes and conclusions that are hard to decipher.  Who wants to read something they don’t understand?  I think the contributing factor to this difficulty is not understanding what the Bible is, how it was put together, the different genres, the progression of God’s revelation, the major themes and the correlation of how all the books fit together.  When people are told to just read the Bible and don’t have an understanding of what they are reading, its like picking up a puzzle piece and trying to make sense of the whole picture.   This is an essential component of the discipleship process yet, I fear that might be missing in a great many churches.   Good Bible study methods are needed for understanding.

Now I am of the opinion that the Bible is meant to be understood and can be understood by all (although not all will accept the message).  The Bible is a divine book, in that it is inspired by God, but it is also written by human authors who were using normal means of communication.  Therefore, reading each book according to its literary genre and particular place in God’s overall program is important.

Remedy: If this describes you, get a hold of some instructive material that will aid understanding how the Bible is put together.  Some basic resources that I have found useful for this task is,

  • How to Study the Bible for Yourself, by Tim Lahaye
  • Living by the Book, by Howard Hendricks
  • What the Bible is All About, by Henrietta Mears

2.  Lack of Relevance: if the reason we find the Bible boring is that it just doesn’t seem to applicable to our lives, we will get bored.  Especially, when reading Numbers!  This will happen if we are approaching the Bible to find solutions to our problems and will only be interested if what can solve the problems we face.  However, while the Bible was written for us, it was not written to us.  The Bible is God’s revelation and provides a description of his plan for history.  Understanding his plan should give a great deal of meaning to understand his heart and how we fit into that plan.

Remedy: if this is you, start approaching the Bible to learn about God and his overall program for history.  Always ask with each reading how what you are reading is relevant to his program rather than our personal program.

3.  Too Impatient: We live in a micro-wave culture.  We want understanding and we want it now.  While I do contend that understanding what the Bible is communicating is possible, studying takes time.  Understanding how each part fits together takes time.  It involves a consistent and diligent effort.  The use of study tools, like commentaries, can seem like it slows the process down but are valuable for the understanding process. In the end, it is about understanding and I am of the opinion that the more we understand, the greater our interest will be to learn more.

Remedy: if this is you, resolve in your mind that learning involves discipline and diligence.  It doesn’t happen overnight.

4.  Too Conditioned for Excitement: As long as we are looking for something new, a fresh word from God, the next move of God or wanting to go to the next level we might be conditioned for excitement. But if our Christian walk is conditioned upon needing excitement, reading the Bible can feel like watching paint dry at times.  Now, I contend that there is excitement in learning what God is communicating through his word, but as mentioned in #3, that will take time.  The end product of understanding can cause exhilaration although the process can not seem that way at times.  God has not changed what he has communicated but our understanding does and will increase with each reading.

Remedy: resolve in your mind that learning will not always be exciting.  But learning about God on his terms should be and provide the motivation to continually seek what he is communicating.

5.  Incompatibility with Personal Agendas: similar to #2, if you are looking for the Bible to resolve a self-interested agenda and it does not, then reading what is not relevant to personal agendas can get old real fast.

Remedy: if this is you, ask yourself the question of whom do you serve – self or God.  It is a hard thing at times to loosen the grip of self-serving motives but surrendering to the lordship of Jesus Christ does require us to do just that.

6.  Lack of Spiritual Motivation: I have been here plenty of times, just not interested in spiritual things even though maintaining a commitment to Christ.  Paul indicates in Galatians 5:16-17, that the flesh and spirit oppose each other.  The flesh is that principle within our humanity inherited from the fall that does not want to subject itself to God’s ways. (Romans 8:7).   When its winning, we lose interest.

But consider that God breathed out his word through the pens of 40 authors in order to reveal himself.  Consider the Bible as a love letter where God expresses his heart to us.  When we are apathetic, his word has a way of wooing us but won’t if don’t engage with it.

Remedy: if this is you, read anyway and with intentionality for the word to speak to you.  Now that doesn’t mean ignoring contexts or reasonable rules of reading, but open up to what is being communicated.  This does require discipline that says, even though I don’t feel like it, I’m going to read anyway.

7.  Discouragement or Anger with God: this is worse than spiritual motivation.  Whereas #6 refers to apathy, this is where we are just down right disgruntled with God.   When you are like this, who cares what God is communicating.  You may even feel like he opposes you and has no interest in you.

But here is where I’d say reading the Bible becomes the most crucial.  Jeremiah says that the heart is desperately wicked, who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:17).  Relying on a troubled heart will only pull us down and must combated with the immutable, timeless truths of scripture.  Otherwise, the troubled heart will continue to pull you further and further away from God’s truth, which may even result in you rejecting it all together.

Remedy: honestly, this is the toughest one.  The only thing I can think of is to cry out to God, reach for Christ and keep reading his word even though there may be buckets of tears with each reading.   Finding a loving, leaderful and wise shoulder or two to cry is important too.  Consult your pastor or even get some sound Biblical counseling.  You have nothing to lose but everything to gain, even though it may not feel that way.

Overall, the encouragement here with each one of these categories is to think about what makes the Bible boring for you and how to possibly work past it to absorb the wonderful truths of who God is, his plan for history and the greatest gift of eternal life for those who would place their trust in the work and person of Jesus Christ.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    46 replies to "Seven Possible Reasons We Find the Bible Boring"

    • Amy Jo Garner

      For #1 I’d also recommend “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart and “How to Read the Bible So It Changes Your Life” by Aletha Hinthorn.

    • Ed Kratz

      Thanks Amy. I have heard very good things about Fee’s book but have yet to check it out.

    • Joe

      If one is not one of the “elect” then there really isn’t much point to reading the Bible. They are the ones who will be benefitting from all of God’s promises. The non-elect will be getting the short end of the stick.

    • Carter

      If it is true that “If one is not one of the ‘elect’ then there really isn’t much point to reading the Bible” then it must also be true that the “elect” needn’t bother with reading it. This leads me to ask then for whom was it written?


    • Joe

      The elect are elected by God and He has much to teach them. That is why they should read their Bible. It is part of their becoming more Christ-like.

      The non-elect haven’t got that opportunity. 🙁

    • Ed Kratz

      Sorry Joe, I have to disagree. I believe that God is revealing himself to all, although all may not respond to his revelation. I also reject the idea that only the elect read the Bible as much evidence exists to refute that.

    • Joe

      But Lisa there are the elect and the non elect, correct?

      God may reveal himself to all, but He chose only to save the elect.

      If you believe that your salvation is based solely upon what Jesus Christ did – and you have not merited any part of it – then that seems to imply that God chose those He would save and chose those He did not save.

      And if you read the NT you see that almost all of it is addressed to Christians – the elect. I’m not saying that non-christians or non-elect do not read the Bible, but what’s the point – it doesn’t apply to them – except for all the bad stuff.

    • John Lollard

      Of, random debates on Calvinism, always popping up into the middle of otherwise meaningful discussions…

    • Ed Kratz

      John, I agree. Both elect and non-elect engage in Bible reading for a variety of reasons.

    • Joe


      A red herring?



    • Ed Kratz

      Joe, perhaps my brain is taking a nap because I really don’t understand what you’re getting at. Oh well

    • John Lollard

      Because, Joe, this is a discussion about barriers to Bible reading. And for some reason you feel like this is the appropriate place to discuss conditional or unconditional election.

    • Joe


      One of the “barriers” to reading the Bible for some – the non-elect – is that it is not addressed to them.

      The promises, love, and ect that the NT speaks about applies only to the “elect”. Why would a non-elect want to read about what God has chosen to give someone else but not them?

      Lisa you are avoiding the point I made about how the non-elect really have nothing to gain from reading the bible.

      They may read about God’s love – as in “God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son” – which might sound good but God still only chose to save some. That’s the fine print that most don’t “get”, and when they finally gain an understanding of it, they can see that reading the Bible is of no benefit to any of the non-elect.

      They are not getting any of the love or forgivness, just the punishment.

      I am not saying that God would be unjust in condeming me to hell. I have lived a bad life.

      But the problem is that Christians say that Jesus did it all and there is nothing in and of themselves that merits any bit of salvation. But God chose them, elected them to salvation.

      But others who also had nothing inherant in them for any merit for salvation were not chosen for salvation.

      So why should a non-christian read the Bible? It was simply not written to or for them.

      Big barrier.

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet

      Joe, wouldn’t the existence of Jews at any point defeat the soundness of your argument? Lisa is not strictly writing about the New Testament and the Old Testament is where most of these reasons are likely to be issues. Yes, there’s the “veil” thing but the veil was obviously an issue even for Jesus’ disciples who are (save one), obviously elect.

    • John Lollard

      I’m going to lay it out there that I’m not a Calvinist. At the same time, the position you are describing isn’t Calvinist either.

    • Joe


      I have read the OT and NT and they are written for believers. God’s promises in both the OT and NT are not for those who were not chosen, not saved.

      That is one of the barriers for some people. Here is a whole bunch of good things that will happen to the chosen few. The rest of us really don’t want to hear what God has planned for us. esp since there is nothing we can do about it.

    • John Lollard

      Joe, as I said, I’m not a Calvinist. I’m a Wesleyan. That said, Calvinism teaches that people have wills. It teaches that people are capable of turning to God, and that the ones who desire to turn to God can turn to God and find Jesus Christ as a perfect Savior. Calvinism does not teach that some people were created “non-elect” and now there’s nothing they can ever do no matter what to become saved. Instead, the belief is that those that do turn to God are the ones who are the elect, and that they were only able to turn to God because of God’s divine justifying grace in their life.

      If an unsaved person reads the Bible, desires God, and accepts Jesus as Lord, according to Calvinism, that person is the elect, and that election is made sure through subsequent good works and fruit.

      I’m really not sure what position it is you’re presenting.

    • Joe


      Do you think you are saved bacause you – in and of yourself – turned to Jesus?

    • John Lollard

      I believe I’m saved because the Bible tells me that God Himself stepped into creation and offered Himself up as a perfect sacrifice for my sinfulness. I believe that these passages apply to me because of the witness of the Holy Spirit in me testifying to my continued sanctification. The only role I might have possibly played in all of this is to get out of His way and surrender.

    • Gary Simmons

      What a wonderful post, Lisa! Thank you for sharing. Very insightful, and good to have a few books listed under #1 there to help remedy the situation.

      I’m going to share this on Facebook.

    • Mike

      Too bad these comments have been hijacked by a discussion on election as that was not the reason for the post.

      #2 I think is the biggest problem I have. Since it is February and the reading plan I have used puts me reading Leviticus in February I always have problems with relevance. But I force may way through. Last year was the first year that I made it through the whole Bible and it changed my life.

    • Ed Kratz

      Mike, yes. I think many reading plans go south in Leviticus and Numbers. But that’s where the correlation of the overall message is important. The prophets, too I think are tough to get through as well

    • Jesse G

      “So why should a non-christian read the Bible? It was simply not written to or for them.”


      Are you seriously contending that you would not encourage a non-believer to read the Word? I know personally of 2 examples where God opened a person’s eyes to the glory of His Son through this specific means. . . You don’t know who is elect and who is not . . . its true that if a person isn’t one of the “called” their heart will be callous to the truths that they read, but for goodness sake the “gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe it”. . . why on earth would you steer someone away from the only living book that declares this good news.

      Jesse G

    • jim

      Thanks Lisa, well written

      Joe, let it go man, not the issue this time around.

      Some question came up recently at our adult SS class… I understand that the holy spirit helps while reading God’s word , but I always find that good bibical research and digging into the word seems to add more meaning . As well , generally, we seem to follow the Church’s interpretation thoughout history rather closely. If you find yourself interpreting from left field , then you probably are off track! So finally I get to the question: Does the holy spirit take preference or good scholarly study? Does the holy spirit change our mental attitude in a supernatural way? How does this play out for those on this thread, I would be interested in hearing your views. Which SEEMS more important to you.


    • Joel H.

      I would add that translations often turn otherwise interesting passages into boring reading.


    • carl Peterson

      I think I get the jest of #2 but I can’t go with all of it as written. The Bible was written for us and to us. It was written primarily for the Church that includes all believers. I think the problem is more not that we look to the Bible to find solutions to our problems as much as our problems and OUR solutions are just not always what the Bible deems important.

    • carl Peterson

      Also I think the Bible was written for all of mankind, elect and non-elect. Along with creation it gives mankind no excuse for not believing in Jesus Christ. Probably some other reasons also I just can’t think of them right now. But I think it is written to all of mankind. It is just that some will not put their faith in the God of the Bible. But the Father, Son, and Spirit still get glory.

    • EricW

      Get this book: http://www.amazon.com/How-Enjoy-Boring-Parts-Bible/dp/1561210676/

      How to Enjoy the Boring Parts of the Bible by Philip Rosenbaum

      Paperback: 227 pages
      Publisher: Wolgemuth & Hyatt Pub; 1st edition (June 1991)
      Language: English
      ISBN-10: 1561210676
      ISBN-13: 978-1561210671


      I had it a few overcrowded-bookcase-purgings ago.

    • Ed Kratz

      Jim, good question. I would say both are needed. The Spirit was involved in the writing of the text; it is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). This is why I believe and have heard many accounts that non-believers come to place their faith in Christ just by reading the Bible.

      But the Holy Spirit also indwells every believer and draws the words out as we open our hearts to receive it. But this does not negate normal rules of reading. I hear many say that we just need the Holy Spirit to guide and tell us the meaning. Quite frankly, I am troubled that so much of this language peppers our understanding of approaching scripture and does have a tinge of Gnosticism. Yes, the Holy Spirit does guide but we have to look at what the author intended as well and that means understanding the genre, context and cultural background as well. As we understand this, with the use of study tools, we can then make appropriate applications to our lives as the Spirit leads and convicts. In this way, I think every reading should be devotional as we seek the truth of Scripture. (see post above on this topic)

    • jim

      thanks Lisa….. I agree with your approach, but I have a hard time understanding the supernatural work of the spirit in this regard.

      Another book I found really helpful a few years back was
      Grasping God’s Word by Duvall and Hays….I believe it is used in seminary’s here in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada….Please don’t tell me you don’t know where that is!!( LOL )

      Isn’t it comforting to know that “BALANCE” always seems to be not only important but quite applicable in our Christian walk.

    • mbaker


      “Herman Who?” by Todd Friel is highly recommended by one of my most respected pastor friends, who is big on all Christians being able to understand proper hermeneutics. Apparently it explains in easily understood terms how we get can confused by certain things in the Bible, and how it leads us to doubt God. He recommends it because he thinks a lot of people get more confused sometimes by an over complicated explanation of hermeneutics and think as layman they will never be able to properly understand God’s word. So they give up reading it at all. He also recommended Gordon Fee’s book, “How To Read the Bible For All It’s Worth”.

      Sounds like both would be good choices to what has already been recommended here.

      You brought out some good points. I think we can all see ourselves in some of them.

      God bless.

    • Paul Davis

      Lisa thank you for this wonderful article, I find myself at odds over how to read. And have been one of these at various times (I change constantly)…

      But lately I’ve landed here:

      On the one hand I can read the bible like a novel, and go chapter to chapter.

      Or I can do a systematic study, which takes much more effort and commitment.

      I normally fall somewhere in the middle, but I’m starting to work out two types of reading:

      1. Devotional – where I pray and read, normally I do a psalm and a proverb during this time once a day at least.

      2. Study – where I break down the text, read commentary’s, notes and other things.

      The hard part is that number two takes commitment, time and effort. And to be frank it’s sometimes hard to find a ‘quiet’ time to do this. I’ve started to actually set aside Monday nights for study, doing my TTP assignments and spending time at my desk just working on expanding my understanding of God.

      I’m also going to pick up some of the books mentioned here, I found one that I read for a while. But to be honest the tone of the writing was so sickly sweet I couldn’t finish it, terms like ‘Isn’t that wonderful beloved!…’ just don’t do it for me, maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy 🙂 Just explain your system, give me the tools and I’ll figure the rest out. I want a tool kit, not a hug from the author 😉

      It’s a shame that something this valuable got turned into an diatribe about Election, There are lot’s of other posts about it and other sites that would be happy to debate the topic, let’s not ruin this post by taking it off topic…


    • EricW

      And if you read the NT you see that almost all of it is addressed to Christians – the elect. I’m not saying that non-christians or non-elect do not read the Bible, but what’s the point – it doesn’t apply to them – except for all the bad stuff.


      Since most of Western Civilization since Christ’s birth has been affected and influenced by the Scriptures and the events it portrays, since what is happening in the Middle East has to be set in the context of the history of the Abrahamic peoples, since Shakespeare and many other authors quote or allude to the Scriptures in much of their writings, since European and American history can’t be understood apart from its peoples’ relationship to the Bible over the centuries, etc., etc., non-Christians who want to understand why the West and the Middle East are the way they are simply have to read the Bible at some point, even if only for intellectual or historical understanding or curiosity.

      So, yes, there is a point in non-believers reading the Bible. Just as there is a point in Germans reading the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution if they want to understand the United States Government and its history.

    • Carter

      One of the smartest moves I’ve ever made is to sign up for free online Bible study at http://ei.christiancourses.com/ . I have always read the Bible but I had never really studied it. These courses have truthfully changed my life, my relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ, and they have even been instrumental in changing the church which I attend. It took me one year to go through the Old Testament. I took a break for a few months and started the New Testament around the end of November last year. I hope to finish it by November of this year. I’ll try to address each of the “Seven possible reasons we find the Bible boring”:

      1. Lack of Understanding: My understanding of the Bible has and continues to increase with my study of it, so this becomes less and less of a reason not to read it.l
      2. Lack of Relevance: I can’t imagine finding the Bible irrelevant to a person who has faith. Without faith the Bible may seem irrelevant. If read with faith or at least with hope its relevance will become apparent.
      3. Too Impatient: Tough! If you want to do it, do it.
      4. Too Conditioned for Excitement: May be I’m different, but to this ex-junkie, the Bible is the most exciting book I’ve EVER read.
      5. Incompatibility with Personal Agendas: My personal agenda is to find out what God’s personal agenda is for me. That attitude eliminates this problem.
      6. Lack of Spiritual Motivation: Sometimes I’m motivated by the spirit, sometimes I’m motivated by the desire to just finish a lesson started, sometimes I’m motivated by a selfish wish to get a 100% on a study quiz, and sometimes I’m just not motivated. Life’s like that. I usually just muddle through and eventually I get re-charged.
      7. Discouragement or Anger with God: I like this one. If I’m discouraged it’s because God hasn’t made my agenda His. I need to make His agenda mine, or I can just continue to be unhappy. I do get really angry with God sometimes and I think…

    • Joshua Allen

      Really good post; I can’t think of any I would add.

      It does seem that the scriptures become a lot more relevant to me as I experience more of life.

    • John Lollard

      (me = 1 Cor 3:3. I apologize)

      I would definitely agree about lack of understanding. I don’t know how many people have started reading the Bible, and started in Genesis and gave up somewhere near Abraham going to Egypt. I have three times.

      I’m worried that #7 may apply to me. For instance, I read Psam 139 and it presents this stunning picture of an intimately personal God who knows every inch of me, and then it is totally ruined by the last lines (19-22) that seem to totally fly in the face of Christlike charity and mercy. What am I supposed to do with that? Sometimes I want to just mark lines or whole books out and pretend like they’re not there.

      Any advice?

    • Carter

      John Lollard:

      When you run into a problem like this search the commentaries. Frequently I have found that I am reading INTO the passage rather than reading it. I suggest you begin with “Bible Study Tools” excellent exposition on each verse of this psalm:


      In Christ,

    • Ed Kratz

      John, you are not alone in that brother. One passage that has recently stood out for me is Hebrews 10:1-16 and specifically vs. 14

      “For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are being made holy” (NIV)

      I have those areas that seem like its just never going to change. But this verse reminded me that progress started with God, who perfects that involves a process of me being made holy. Doesn’t happen overnight, I’m afraid.

    • JJ

      Joe —

      I am SO glad that God did not ordain you to share your opinions about Bible reading with me… many years ago.

      I read the New Testament and God’s word convicted me of sin and the Grace of our Lord saved me. I was not in a church… just read the first 3 books of the NT.

      But, I am sure you are right. Reading the Bible for Non-Christians makes no sense.

      Why is it, that some Calvinists (of which I am one) forget all the injunctions aimed at man? Why is it that some Calvinists turn purple to think that God may have ordained that faith be exercised?

      I am certain that God could have saved me in any way He chose, but we do a disservice to the Word of God when we let our
      theology of “5 Points” interpret absolutely everything else. Have you ever wondered why the greatest teacher of all time didn’t just sit down and teach 5 point Calvinism?

      I for one will encourage non-Christians and Christians alike to read their Bibles. Let God chose to do with that what he wills.

      God Bless,

    • Derek

      Giving it some thoughts, I think there is an 8th reason why some people find the bible boring:

      Over Confidence.

    • Renju Philip

      What about lack of proper prayer?

      Praying so that the Spirit of God may teach you the word of God and show you the pearls lying in the scriptures

      What about lack of humility comes in line with over confidence

      Love and Prayers

    • Ed Kratz

      Renju, yes I agree we should approach scripture prayerfully and with an open heart. But please refer to what I wrote in comment #29. We still need to approach the Bible as literature, since that is how each author wrote it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We can’t throw out standard rules of reading.

    • […] Seven Possible Reasons We Find the Bible Boring […]

    • Joe

      Jesse G,

      I am not encouraging one to read or not to read the bible. I’m simply saying that another barrier to reading the bible is that it is addressed to only believers – those that God elected to save.

    • Joe


      You read the bible and were converted – showing that you were and are one of the elect – so the bible was written for you.

      Someone else who reads the bible and is never converted – showing that they were not one of the elect – so the bible was not written for him.

      So if you are not one of those that god chose to save reading the bible does you no good.

    • […] Read Michael Patton’s remedies to these […]

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