Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity

“Reading the Bible Makes Me Fall Asleep”

posted by Carolyn Henderson

Sometimes we read, sometimes we sleep, and it’s good when we can get enough of both. Provincial Afternoon, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold.

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.

Stop worrying about convention and being conventional and do things you own colorful, original, independent way. Mesa Walk, original painting by Steve Henderson, sold. Licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas and Light in the Box.

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

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

Jesus Isn’t All You Need — He’s All You’ve GOT

Don’t Worry: It’s NOT All up to You

Is the Bible Boring? (at my sister site, This Woman Writes)


  • Sarah Coller

    Love! More good stuff, Carolyn!

  • Pingback: Bible Reading 101 - Commonsense Christianity

  • Carolyn Henderson

    Anita — I’m so glad that this is not your trouble anymore, both in the sleep and in the joy reading God’s wonderful book. It is such a joy to look forward to time with God, rest in His presence, and drink up His words.

    And it’s comforting, too, to be able to say sometimes, “I’m tired. Or irritated. Or not the best companion right now. And I’m glad that You understand this and love me 24-hours a day.”

    And you’re right — too many people need more sleep. It’s a beautiful gift God has given us, every day to literally rest and close our eyes, and it’s worth fighting to keep and enjoy that beautiful gift. Our society is doing everything it can to take it away from us.

  • Anita

    Definitely practical, but not my trouble anymore!Most people do need more sleep for sure.

  • Carolyn Henderson

    Shade: “Unconventional” is the key word. As Christians, we need to think clearly and often about how to do things, always bringing our ideas and questions to God and believing that He will actually listen, and answer.

    What works for one person, does not work for the other. This other person needs to stop wasting time trying to be someone he is not, and figure out what works best for him. All of us have something to teach others, but too often we depend upon very few — loud — voices to do all of the teaching of all of us.

  • shade akinbiyi

    Brilliant ideas! Love the unconventional approach, because the important thing is making it work. I’m all for “skipping around” as I get bored easily. Thanks for sharing. Remain blessed!

  • Carolyn Henderson

    Renee — it sounds like sleep deprivation is not a new thing for our society, or humankind!

    But you are right — God is gracious, patient, and kind, and He knows His children better than we do. This is comforting, because sometimes, our prayer looks like this: “I really don’t know what I want or need. All I know is that I want or need something that is missing in my life, and only You know what it is, and can provide it to me.”

    Thank you for finding me and reading me.

  • Renee Barry

    I truly enjoyed reading your post. I bought this little book back in 1989 called Teach Me To Pray I’m Falling Asleep! It still has not helped me stay awake — but I do believe it has a lot to do with getting enough sleep — and like you say with some passages in the bible — they are hard to (when you are sleeped deprived) to stay awake on. But God is gracious and He knows His children. I appreciate your post. God bless.

  • Carolyn Henderson

    Justin — it’s the simple things: not enough sleep, no sunshine on your face, the wrong food, not drinking enough water — little, little things add up to big impacts, and before we address the big stuff, it helps to take care of the small stuff.

    We are a sleep-deprived nation, so busy being busy that we have no time for rest, reflection, meditation, quiet, and thought.

    I hope that you can fit more — or better — sleep into your life and wake up refreshed and ready for the day’s challenges.

  • Carolyn Henderson

    Anonymous — It is so important for individual Christians to read the Bible for themselves, and stop depending upon the interpretations that other people give them, of what they say it says.

    The simple act of people thinking for themselves would make such a huge difference, that it would almost look like the revival that everyone is always calling for!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks a lot Sister Carylon Henderson,for the great wisdom of teaching me and others knowing how to reading of the Bible which is the Living Word of God.

  • Justin

    Thanks for posting! Great advice!

    I can’t stress enough getting enough sleep. When I don’t, I usually have a hard time getting in the word and fighting temptations.


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