Have you ever felt yourself losing steam on a project or task? You started full of enthusiasm, and then you struggled to complete what you started. Maybe it was the diet or exercise routine that worked extremely well at first—you saw results, and then you didn’t. When the plateau happens, your motivation hits a wall as well, and it is a challenge to keep going. Or maybe it was a DIY project that appeared so easy when you watched someone else completing it on TV. But it was not so quick and easy when you decided to do it yourself!
One of the great roadblocks to Bible study is staying motivated and not losing steam. Unlike a project or semester of school, Bible study is lifelong learning. We never really finish. So why do we stick with it? How can we keep from losing steam in a short period of time to complete one Bible study, much less continuing year after year?
- Focus on the why. Think about the bigger picture of why you study the Bible. How does knowing and understanding Scripture help you, your family, your church, and your community? How does your faith grow as you read and study the Bible? How do you benefit from spending time with other believers studying God’s Word? What have you learned about God and His character from previous experiences studying the Bible? Ultimately, our goal is to know God more every day, to commune with Him, to love Him, and to share Him with others. Knowing our Bible, God’s inspired words, and knowing Jesus, “the way, the truth, and the life,” connects us to the Father (John 14:6, CSB). As believers, we also receive the Holy Spirit to guide, teach, and counsel us in God’s commands (John 14:15-17). The Bible is a great gift to us, and even when we don’t feel motivated or like we are growing in our faith, God uses His Word to strengthen us.
- Find accountability. Any teacher or professor will tell you that a big part of learning and passing the class is attending. Make the effort to join and participate in Bible study groups. Two people make a pair. Three people are a group. Find a few people that you can touch base with midway through your weeks of study together if it is a larger group. Participate and challenge yourself to speak up even if it feels uncomfortable at first. Learn from others and allow them to learn from you. We were created for community, and as we study the Bible together, we build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4).
- Set reminders or notifications. We use our phones all the time. Why not set some reminders that will help you with your Bible study? Or if the phone won’t do it, use my favorite: sticky notes! You may need reminders for a set time when you will read or work on a Bible study plan. You may need a note of encouragement that helps you countdown to the completion of the Bible study by day or week. What does a typical day look like for you? When and where do you need to see a reminder that Bible study is worth the time and effort? These little reminders will help you persevere when you are not motivated to spend time in Bible study.
- Try a new study method. Maybe some of your lack of motivation has resulted from routine. You feel like you are stuck in a cycle that simply repeats itself every time you start a new Bible study. It may be time to freshen things up a bit! God’s Word is timeless, life-changing, and powerful, but switching up how you read or study the Bible can help you with the desire to study it. It may be time to change the time of day when you read and study. You might try reading less or more during study time. Try giving yourself a time limit and see how much you can do in ten minutes. Skip over the personal stories of others and stick with the Scripture, or read the personal stories and write down one of your own. Add in a podcast or sermon on the same book of the Bible or topic and listen as you go for a walk. Try writing out the Scripture verses in a journal or notebook and reading them at other times during the week. Find the one nugget of truth that you sense God calling you to study and focus on that. Use Bible dictionaries, atlases, or commentaries to look at the passage from a different perspective. Be creative and think about what would make time in God’s Word enjoyable for you when you feel stuck and lack motivation. You may even want to close your Bible and Bible study book or resources and simply sit and pray.
- Ask for help. It is normal to lose motivation with any number of things in life. What student doesn’t hit that wall midway through a semester? What young mom doesn’t allow others to hold and rock the new baby when she is exhausted? Routines are helpful. Changing up those routines can be helpful. But balance is key. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself in how much you will accomplish and complete with your Bible study. If it is overwhelming, pull back and find a more manageable pace. Don’t quit—find a rhythm that works for you and your schedule at the same time. Ask others in your group to fill in the gaps in a week when your life is stressful. They would rather you stick with the Bible study! Other women know they will have weeks when you will need to help them. Don’t forget to ask God for help as well. God wants you to spend time with Him and in His Word. He hears us and wants to help us in accordance with His will. “This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14). Ask God to help you have the motivation to spend time with Him and to study His Word. Pray and trust that He hears, cares, and will give you the desire for Bible study.
Roadblocks are just that—something that blocks your path and takes you on a detour. Be aware of the roadblocks that hinder your study of God’s Word. Don’t allow them to stop you completely, but use them to challenge you to persevere. When your motivation for Bible study is lacking or you find yourself losing steam, find the detour that God provides or a new way of learning, studying, and growing in your faith. God is faithful. Remember that a plateau is not always bad. Sometimes the stopping points or detours provide a breakthrough that will bring you closer to God and a fresh start in Bible study.
What tips do you have for helping others stay motivated with Bible study?
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.