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The Real Reason You Don’t Have Time To Read the Bible


Plenty of us want to read our Bible more in 2024. So, what’s stopping us? Time. Unfortunately, finding time is more complex than solving a scheduling issue.

For instance, what if I told you that I know the secret to reading 200 books per year?

The average nonfiction book is about 50,000 words. So, 200 books is 10 million words, which would take an average American about 515 hours to read. 

Okay… so what? Who has 515 hours to spare? That’s where this gets interesting. 

The average American spends 1,642 hours a year watching TV and 608 hours a year on social media. My friends and I averaged 819 hours a year just looking at our phones.

That means, the secret to reading 200 books in a year: watch 30% less TV. Or spend 85% less time on social media. Or 63% less time on your phone. None of these are hard.

Now do you think you’ll read 200 books this year? Probably not. Why not? Because it’s not a time issue. It’s a priority issue. To read 200 books in a year, you need to love reading more than you love TV.

Most people don’t. 

Reading your Bible 15 minutes a day, five days a week only takes 65 hours a year. That’s 4% of the time we spend watching TV, 8% of the time looking at our phones, and 10% of our time on social media.

So, is time really the problem?

Can we be honest?

The reason we can’t find time for the Bible is the same reason we can’t find time to read 200 books. We don’t love it. We’d rather spend the 15 or 20 minutes it takes to read our Bible, doing what we love: email, Netflix, sports, video games, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or shopping.

You don’t have a time problem. You have a self-deception problem. You think you want to read, but your heart doesn’t really desire God’s word. Instead, you're buying the lie you’re telling yourself.

So what if you got honest with God? Try this prayer.

Jesus, I say I follow you. I say I love you. But I haven’t devoted time to your word. I haven’t learn to love your word deeply. Honestly, I find it hard to give you just 15 minutes. I’d rather spend that time doing something else. 

Jesus, I know that if I really love you, I should like you enough to spend a little less time on other things so that I can spend a little more time with you. But my heart is full of mixed-up, dueling desires. Help me want you. Forgive me, because I’ve got no excuses. 

Would you help me to make a change?

Finding Your "Why"

One way to find your love for something is to uncover why you love and why you want it.

I’ve experienced this personally in a different realm: weight loss. A few years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to do the Whole 30. You know, the one where you cut absolutely everything fun out of your diet (except coffee and meat) for an entire month. Week one was brutal, but I survived. Week two was hardly any better. You don’t know temptation until you’ve stared down a freshly baked cookie after going sugar-free for 14 days.

But a cookie wasn’t what broke me. Lion’s Choice did. Specifically, those tiny little chocolate-dipped cones. I don’t know how many I ate. I think I blacked out. What I do know is that I did the Whole 15, not the Whole 30.

What was my issue? It wasn’t discipline or self-control. Generally speaking, I’m a pretty disciplined person. My problem was that I loved ice cream more than personal health because I lacked a “why.”

At the time, I didn’t need to lose weight. I didn’t feel unhealthy. I just felt guilty about my diet. And guilt just wasn’t enough to keep me going. So when chocolate-dipped perfection presented itself to my sugar-starved brain cells… resistance was futile. 

Without a deeper love-- and an even deeper “why”-- I lacked hunger. I mean, I was obviously hungry for ice cream, but I wasn’t hungry for the Whole 30, and so I failed.

So rather than setting a resolution to read the Bible, maybe you should resolve to find a hunger for your Bible. Maybe you should resolve to find your “why.”

How To Find Your "Why"

To find your "why," you need to surface your sense of need for God. It’s actually not that hard:

  • Every person sucked into an endless social media scroll is looking for God.
  • Every person online shopping for hours on end is looking for God
  • Every person turning to alcohol every night to dampen reality is looking for God
  • Every person watching pornography is looking for God.
  • Every person obsessed with their romance is looking for God.
  • Every person binging Netflix is looking for God.
  • Every person playing video games unto exhaustion is looking for God.
  • Every person seeking the perfect body at the gym is looking for God. 
  • Every person dying for the next promotion is looking for God
  • Every person snowplowing and helicoptering over their child is looking for God.
  • Every person trying to save and stuff their bank account with money and house with stuff is looking for God.

So in 2024, turn your hunger away from those things and—with God’s help—turn it toward him instead.

Are you hungry for energy after a long day? 
Psalm 19:7 says, The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.”

Are you hungry for guidance? 
The Psalm continues, “The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; … the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”

Are you hungry for joy? 
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart”

Are you hungry for a purpose that will outlast time? 
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever”

Are you hungry for truth and justice? 
The rules of the LORD are true, and just altogether.”

If you want 2024 to be different, find where your soul is hungry and take that part of yourself to Jesus. He will feed you with the only food that satisfies. 


 What’s your plan for reading the Bible this year? Join TMBT and explore the Writings in 2024. Download the free TMBT Bible Reading Plan, read a passage from the Old Testament each weekday, and then listen to the podcast to learn more.