I was chatting with a gracious and dedicated person the other day who blurted out,
“I can’t read the Bible for 20 minutes without falling asleep!”
You know, not many people are this honest, and if more of us were, we’d enjoy being in one another’s company.
Because as I’m sure you know, the correct answer to this lament looks like this:
“Obviously, you do not have a close enough relationship with Jesus. If you did, you would be so passionate and excited about His Word, that you couldn’t possibly go to sleep.”
Dispensing with Convention
There. Now that we’ve got the conventional, insensitive response out of the way, maybe we can move on to solving the problem, which to me looks twofold:
1) This person isn’t getting enough sleep
2) This person WANTS to be interested in what’s in the Bible, but isn’t sure about how to go about it.
Let’s talk about Problem 1 first, with the obvious solution of, somehow, getting more sleep. One of my progeny, in the effort to survive in a cold, calculating society that treats people like cattle, works 7 days a week at low-paying jobs (she has a degree, by the way, as do many people you encounter in low-paying jobs) to barely make it. Add that to the coursework she’s simultaneously pursuing to improve her lot, plus time to eat and sit with the kitty, and there’s not much time left to sleep.
Make Sleep a Priority
But she makes sleep a priority, grabs what she can, and when she does arise at 4:30 a.m., it’s not for Quiet Time, but because she has to be at work by 5. Too many Christians feel compelled and impelled to wake up when it’s still dark and “read” their Bible, when realistically they are staring at the tiny print and nodding off. They need more sleep.
You know that snitty little ditty — “Seven days without prayer — or Bible reading — makes one weak!”? It’s not in the Bible. God will wait, and if you need to catch up on your sleep, He understands. (Incidentally, you can pray to Him, which basically means talk to Him, anytime. It doesn’t have to fit into a designated Quiet Time. And another Incidentally: the term Quiet Time is not in the Bible either. Can we get rid of it?)
So, my gracious and dedicated conversant needs to feel free to get the sleep he or she needs. Step One.
Less Time, More Interesting
Step Two: if you fall asleep after 20 minutes in the Bible, then don’t read for 20 minutes. Try 10. Or 5. Just read something. And ponder it throughout the day. Over time, what we read, and think, and pray, adds up.
Step Three, which addresses Problem Two, above: find a book in the Bible that interests you, and read it. Me? I love Genesis, for the stories and mystique; it segues into Exodus, which knocks your socks off if you approach it by believing that what it says is true — yes, God parted the Red Sea, and yes, Moses got water out of a rock. For five minutes out of the day, free yourself from having to find a natural explanation for these miracles, and blow your mind by asking, “What if these miracles actually happened?”
Good God — what does that say about God?
Now at some point in Exodus you’re going to run smack into,
“Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, with an opening for the head in its center. There shall be a woven edge like a collar around this opening, so that it will not tear.” (Exodus 28: 31-32) I assure you that most of us, no matter how rested, will fall asleep after 20 minutes of this.
Skip around — Nobody’s Watching
So feel free to skip. Someday, you may want to come back and actually read this, but today, if you nod off over it and avoid the entire Bible because you dread reading about the tunic, and the turban, and the linen undergarments, what are you gaining?
There are no rules for reading the Bible, and those who make them are more concerned about the profit they receive from their study books than they are about your relationship with God.
Get some sleep. Ask God to help you with this.
And pick up His book and read something in it. Ask Him to help you with this, too.
Our God instructs us and teaches us in the right way (Isaiah 28: 26). Because He is wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom (Isaiah 28: 29), He knows how to work through our unique circumstances with the compassion and understanding that we so desperately need.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I strive to counteract the messages of opprobrium, reproof, and disapprobation that too often make up what we follow as religious, and Christian, teaching.
God is a God of love — we overlook and forget that, but it is the central point from which every step we take, derives.
Posts similar to this one are
Is the Bible Boring? (at my sister site, This Woman Writes)