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When Bible-Reading Doesn’t Help

Need Help?

Let’s say you are worried about money, or tempted with jealousy, or feeling far from God.

You’ve heard that Bible-reading can help, so you give it a try.

You sit down at your desk, open your Bible, and start to read.

No Help

Maybe you start with a psalm — Psalm 23 is always good — and read it through.

But you receive no help.  You are still worried about money.

So you turn to a gospel — I’ll try the gospel of John — and read a couple chapters.

Still no help.  You continue to feel jealous.

So you try one of Paul’s letters — Ephesians would be good — and start reading.

Still — no help.  Your heart feels no closer to God.


This is puzzling, especially when we see what God promises to do in us through his Word —

“The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” (Psalm 19:7)

“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” (Psalm 19:8)

“If you abide in my word … the truth will set you free [from sin — v.34].” (John 8:31-32)

“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

So when I read the Bible but don’t experience these promises, what’s the problem?

In my case, it’s usually one of the following four reasons —

First, I Am Not Admitting My Spiritual Blindness

Take worry about money, for example.  When I am worried about money, the reason is because I am spiritually blind to the truth of God’s Word.

To see this, think about the promise of Philippians 4:19 — “My God shall supply all your needs.”

I can read that promise.  And understand that promise.

But if I am worried about money, I am not seeing the truth of that promise.  I am not believing that promise.

At that moment I am spiritually blind to the fact that through Christ, God promises to meet all my financial needs.

So if I’m spiritually blind, I can read that promise over and over, and even read the Bible from cover to cover – but my heart won’t change.

So what can I do?  I should confess my spiritual blindness to God and ask him to forgive me through Christ.

Then I can pray: “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:36).

When we pray this earnestly and humbly, in Jesus’ name, and keep reading over God’s promises —  God will heal our spiritual blindness.

As a result we will not just read Philippians 4:19 — we will see, feel, and believe Philippians 4:19.

And our worry  about money will be gone.

Second, I’m Not Being Honest With God

Let’s say we are feeling far from God because we love money.

That will make us feel far from God, because it’s sin to love money, and unconfessed sin keeps us from experiencing God’s presence.

So I can read the Bible from sunup to sundown, but if I’m not honest with God about my love of money, I will still feel far from Him.

What I need to do is confess to God the true state of my heart — that I am loving money more than him.

I need to ask him to forgive me through Jesus, and to use his Word to change my heart.

And then I need to find Scriptures showing that God is infinitely more satisfying than money.

Then , as I pray over those Scriptures, and fight to trust those Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will go to work.

He will open my eyes to see who God is.  He will help me feel God’s all-satisfying glory.  As a result, I will love God more than money.

And I will no longer feel far from God.

Third, I Don’t Understand How God’s Word Changes Me

It’s not just by reading.

It’s by being honest with God about the true condition of my heart, and  prayerfully meditating on Scriptures that speak to my condition.

As I do that, I will feel the Holy Spirit strengthen my faith in those Scriptures, and as my faith is strengthened, my heart will change.

That’s what Paul is talking about in Romans 10:17 –

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Let’s say I’m jealous of my neighbor’s Corvette.  My jealousy shows that I believe I can’t be fully happy without a Corvette, and that I am not trusting Christ as my all-satisfying Treasure.

Jealousy, in other words, is sinful unbelief.  So I need to be honest with God about my jealousy, confessing it to him as sin, and being assured of complete forgiveness through Christ.

Then I need to find Scriptures showing that Christ is infinitely more satisfying than a Corvette.

Then I need to pray earnestly over those Scriptures, trusting God to use his Spirit to change my heart through the Word.  As I do, I will start to see and feel the infinite worth of Christ.

And the more I feel the infinite worth of Christ, the less I will care about the Corvette.

And my jealousy will be gone.

Fourth, I Give Up Too Soon

Sin is nasty.  It builds up a thick crust around our hearts, so we can’t feel the truth of God’s Word.  But the Holy Spirit turns God’s Word into a jack-hammer.

And when I find verses that speak to my heart-issues of love of money or jealousy, and pray earnestly over them, the jack-hammer of the Word goes to work.

But concrete doesn’t yield immediately.  It can take time for a jack-hammer to break through.

So I need to keep praying over God’s Word, meditating on God’s Word, preaching to myself God’s Word – letting God’s Word pound on the crust of my sin.

In time, the crust of sin will be broken and my heart will be changed.

Keep pounding.

Questions?  Comments?  Feedback?

I’d love to hear them.  Leave a reply below — thanks.

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Category: Help with Bible-Reading


7 Responses

  1. Ron R. says:

    I really enjoyed this Steve. So…here is my problem. You would think that by now I should know a lot of scripture. But the truth is, I have become lazy. So when you say that I shouldn’t just read scripture addressing my worry about work (which is my present concern)… but I should allow the Holy Spirit to let me know and feel the scripture that addresses this issue and therefor let him minister to me. My problem is that I find that I need more time searching scripture that addresses my concerns at the time, and- I hate to admit it. I am just lazy about searching and finding the scripture that will address my present concern. THERE…I SAID IT. I have been lazy. Wow… I think I found my real cuprit- my laziness. (ugh!!) Thanks again for sharing your blog.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I love your honesty, Ron. Here’s what helps me battle laziness.

      I’ve seen that I’m not too lazy to check my email, or to watch TV, or to eat a carne asada burrito. Why not? Because I believe those actions will bring me heart-satisfaction.

      So — the actions I *am* lazy about are those which I don’t believe will bring me heart-satisfaction. Applying this to you — the battle is to trust God’s promise that time spent searching the Scriptures will satisfy you more than a million bucks or the tastiest food (Psa 19:10).

      So pray over God’s promises about His Word (Joshua 1:8; Psa 19:7-10; Psa 1; John 8:31-32; John 6:63) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you feel the truth of these promises — so you will WANT to search out Scriptures that will help you battle unbelief about your job.

      I hope that helps some — press on, brother.

      He is worth it all.

  2. bevetly says:


    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Beverly,

      I am so glad that you found this post helpful.

      I, too, have struggled to have my heart changed. But again and again I find that when I come to God as I am, trusting that I am fully welcomed because of Christ’s death, and then when pray over God’s Word — in time He always changes my heart.

      It’s not always immediate. But even His delays are because of His love for me.

      Are you part of a Bible-teaching and living church? What would be most helpful would be if you had some wise, godly women you could connect with who could pray with you and counsel you.

      Let me know how God works — and I will be praying.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  3. Marina says:

    Thanks. I really needed this.
    I’ve been struggling with Bible-reading for so long I can’t remember how I reached this point. But I’m slowly getting back at it.
    Laziness is something that always makes me give up on reading. Not just the Bible, actually, but books in general. But I really want to get back at it because I used to love! So, thanks for the tips, Steve!
    May God continue to bless your work through this blog. (I just found your blog through the post you wrote to the DesiringGod blog! Amazing as well!)


    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Marina,

      I am deeply encouraged that you found this helpful. Thank you for letting me know — and may the Father richly bless you as you read his word.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  4. Stella Simaingi says:

    I not making any sales and been praying for months and still no sales, how do I pay for rents, stocks which we got on credit? I am ……I don’t want to doubt my awesome God……Please help…..

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