The following is a transcript of the audio.
Caleb writes in to ask: “Pastor John, what do you do when you're bored of reading the Bible?”
I pray my Lord acronym or acrostic, whatever you call it. I O U S, IOUs and I say this, Tony, because I take unbelievably strong encouragement from the fact that the psalmist had to pray this way, that it isn’t just the person who just asked that question, Caleb, or me, who struggled with feeling excited about the Bible, but the psalmist did. So here is my IOUS.
I, incline my heart to your testimonies and not to get engaged. Psalm 119 verse 36. Isn’t that amazing? It is amazing that that psalmist would ask God to incline his heart to the Word. What? You are not inclined to the Bible sometimes, Mr. Psalmist?
Or, O, open my eyes that I may see wonderful things out of your Word. Psalm 119:18. So the psalmist can go to the Word and not see anything just like we can stare at a page and some days the pages are blank and we feel horrible because of how insensitive we are. So we join the psalmist in praying, Oh, God, open my eyes.
And then you, U, unite my heart to fear your name, Psalm 86:11. Where my heart is all fragmented, it is going every direction. I am looking at a fly on the wall or hearing something in my driveway and I get distracted in a hundred ways and the psalmist does, too. And he is pleading, oh God, get my heart together so it can focus.
I O U and then maybe the most important one of all: Satisfy me in the morning with your steadfast love, Psalm 94 verse 11. So that is what I do, Caleb. I join the psalmist in pleading: Incline my heart, open my eyes, unite my heart, satisfy my heart. Oh, God, don’t lead me in this season of boredom or blankness or deadness.
And then I have got a long list of other things I do, but let me just tick them off. I won’t linger on them long, because I think that right there is probably the most important thing. But I look at things that the Bible says about the Bible to rekindle my love for the Bible.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies. Good, I want that.
And your words are inspired and profitable for every good work and I want that.
And your word awakens faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word and I want that.
And your word gives life. We are born through the Word.
And your Word is a life. To whom should we go? I want life and you words make me holy.
Sanctify them in the truth. Your Word is truth. I want to be holy.
Your Word gives freedom. You will know the truth and the truth will make you free. Don’t you want all those things, Caleb? Well, they are only found in the Word of God. That is the way I preach to myself. So I am preaching that way to Caleb.
So I look to see what the Bible says about the Bible. And then I ... when I am really in need I read sermons by those who are not bored by the Bible. For me that is often Jonathan Edwards. I come away from a sermon by Jonathan Edwards loving the Bible, wanting to see what he saw, wanting to feel what he felt. So let that happen. Or go to church and listen to pastors who are gifted in opening the Word by exalting over the Word so that what they love in the Word and seeing the Word kindles you.
And, oh, my, the list goes on and on. But I will probably stop there and say: Caleb, you are not alone. We all are up and down in the degree to which we love to read the Bible. And the last thing I should say is: Even when you don’t feel like it, keep tending the garden like a farmer who has to get out there every day and pull the weeds and till the soil, not because that day the fruit is going to grow up, but because sooner or later in God’s sovereign timing it will grow if you tend your garden.
For more on the IOUS, see chapter 9 of Pastor John’s book When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy, which you can download for free at desiringgod.org. I’m your host, Tony Reinke. Thanks for listening.