What to Read When You Don’t Want to Read

There are days I don’t want to read my Bible.

Sometimes it’s because I’m tired and groggy. Other times I’m running late and I’m anxious to get on with the day’s work. Other times I find my heart growing distant from God, maybe even frustrated by recent circumstances. Other days I think “I get it already, okay? I’ve read on other days. Can I just go on with my day?”

Now, this can be a problem since I’m a pastor and I’m more or less expected to read the Bible. Even worse, I’m a Christian, and believe the Bible is the inspired inerrant word of God. So why in the world wouldn’t I want to open the living, active word that connects me in fellowship to my Savior?

And yet, some days my Bible stares at me on the shelf and I’d rather keep it closed.

When this happens I often follow a path I learned from one of my pastors during an internship. His name was Jon Smith and he had the painful habit of scheduling meetings with us interns at 7 am. He didn’t think a 7 am meeting was an excuse to skip your reading and prayer, but he shared what he did when he didn’t feel like reading.

It was a simple acronym and three simple verses – Psalm 119:35-37

L – “Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.”

I – “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!”

T – “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”

When I don’t want to read Scripture I turn to Psalm 119:35-37. I walk through the verses slowly trying to make each of the phrases into a prayer

“Lead Me”

I need God to help me walk down the path of his word. I need a guide. I need my mind to be sharp and I need the Spirit’s help.

Father, please lead me in your word today. I confess that I’m not coming “delighting in it” but I want to “delight in it.”

“Incline My Heart”

I need help even with my own heart. There are days my heart feels inclined away from the word and from God. I need his help to incline it where it should be inclined.

Father, please incline my heart toward you today. I want to hear your voice through your word. I want to fellowship with you in prayer.

“Turn My Eyes”

Often I don’t want the thing I should want because my eyes are elsewhere. My eyes too easily drift to “worthless things” — I think I’ll be happier with a few extra minutes of sleep, or scrolling through Facebook, or a few more minutes on Netflix, but none of these have true life in them the way God’s Word does.

Father, please turn my eyes from looking elsewhere for comfort or satisfaction or joy today. I confess that I’m tempted to waste this time or find something else to do. Turn my eyes to you.

“Give Me Life”

It doesn’t quite fit into the L-I-T acronym but I end by asking God for life. I believe that true life comes from abiding in Jesus, from fellowship with him. Life is found “in his ways” and those ways including being faithful to read Scripture and pray. 

Father, give me life as I read and pray this morning. You are the source of true life. You are what my soul was created for and what my heart truly longs for.


This is the well-worn path I follow, more often than I’d like to admit, before I begin reading and praying.

It’s not a magic formula. Simply reciting the verses doesn’t automatically change my heart. But I’ve found something over and over: when I slow down and make this prayer my own God answers me. I start here and then move on to whatever Bible reading or Bible plan I’m following.

So the next time you don’t want to read the Bible, read this.

I'm the Lead Pastor at Cross of Grace Church in El Paso, TX . I love my wife Jenn, my two boys, and my city. Sometimes I write. Other times I just think about writing and listen to a lot of podcasts instead.