When Your Devotional Life is Dry: How To Fall In Love With The Bible Again

I read a statistic recently that 35% of church-going people in Australia rarely or never read the Bible. Only one in 5 read it every day.

What does that say about how we Christians view the Word of God?

We need a Bible revival!

How My Devotional Life Dried Up

One year ago, I was suffering from burnout.

My devotional life was one area that had suffered. Sure, I still picked up my Bible every day… but the joy had gone out of my devotions.

The act of doing devotions had become a duty. The Bible’s content had become yet another barometer of Christian performance—instructions on how I should live my Christian life. And I had nothing left to give.

To be honest, I was not only burnt out, I was bored.

I have been acquainted with the Bible since childhood, have read it many times over and still today read it from cover to cover. I have studied it both personally and with the help of great Christian teachers.

But I had lost my passion for God’s Word.

During the course of this year, I have experienced renewal in my devotional life.

How To Fall In Love With The Bible Again

Here are some keys that have helped me recover my love for God’s Word:

1. Realise Something Is Missing

Jesus said ‘ask, seek, knock,’ (Matt 7:7-8) but we will never do any of those things until we become conscious that we have a need.

Until we realise that what we are experiencing in relation to the Bible is less than what it could be, we will never change.

It was only when I realised how dry I was and how dead my devotional life had become that I decided to do something about it. I began to ‘Ask, seek and knock.’

2. Reconsider the Value of the Bible

Recently I read a news item about a real-life ‘slum-dog millionaire’. This man was living in a slum whilst he had access to millions of dollars.

Like this guy, I had been living like a spiritual pauper whilst sitting on a fortune—God’s Word.

As I began my seeking time, I went through Psalm 119, in which David expounds the wonders of God’s Word. One of the verses that stood out to me was, ‘Your word has given me life’ (Ps 119:50).

Being revived by God’s word is a recurring theme in this Psalm, with the Hebrew word, ‘chayah,’ meaning to revive, nourish, restore to life, and give life to, being used 16 times in relation to God’s Word.

When it comes to the Bible, life is a verb! The promise of being revived—or ‘lifed’—through God’s Word kept me on track. There was obviously something in my devotional life I had missed.

3. Relate to the Bible the Way Jesus Does

The next breakthrough in my journey came when I had an idea to take a look at how Jesus responded to the Bible in the Gospels. Perhaps by studying His response to the Bible, I could see what I was missing.

Jesus knew the scriptures intimately and used His knowledge of them to teach others. But more than this—He lived them.

Jesus walked in perfect fulfillment of God’s Word. The Old Testament described every details of His life from birth to death, His character, His purpose and mission and His redeeming work on the cross.

As I considered Jesus’ response to the scriptures, it occurred to me that just as Jesus walked in fulfillment of God’s Word, so should I.

The Bible explains my origins, my value, my redemption, my call, and my destiny. The Bible is the story of me. And it’s your story, too.

I have known the scripture as a place of instruction, upbuilding, protection and power to live the Christian life. I have understood the Bible as the story of Jesus, the story of redemption, the story of Israel and the church.

But this simple revelation—that the Bible is the story of me—is the one that helped bring me back to life.

4. Reconnect Creatively With God’s Word

When my children were small and had been sick, they sometimes lost their appetite for food.

I would give them smaller portions of tasty food that would tempt them to eat, and help strengthen their appetites.

It is important, when we have lost our appetite for God’s Word, to provide ourselves with fresh inspiration, and new tools or methods to help us study.

Here is one tool that can be used for Bible study and journaling:

The SOAP journaling method

SOAP is an acronym:

  • Scripture
  • Observation
  • Application
  • Prayer

To use this journaling style, read your portion of scripture—it may be a daily reading or a passage or book in the Bible you are currently studying

S = Choose a verse that has particularly spoken to you and write it in your journal

O = Note down your observation—what God is saying to you personally through the verse

A = Record how you can put what God is saying into practice in your life

P = Now write a brief prayer in response to what God has spoken to you

Over the next few days I will be using the SOAP method in my own journal and write my observations in the comments section of this post.

Related posts:

How Using Your Learning Style Can Revitalise Your Bible Study

Does Your Devotional Life Need Resuscitating?

8 Signs Your Devotional Life is Caught in a Performance Trap

Activate Your Prophetic Gift Through Prayer Journaling

© Helen Calder Enliven Publishing

20 thoughts on “When Your Devotional Life is Dry: How To Fall In Love With The Bible Again

  1. Mary Cunningham

    Helen,

    What great insight into rebuilding our devotional life. Mine has been so dry lately I feel I’m living in a desert but this sparks interest in my heart and I plan to put this into practice immediately. Thanks for sharing and not being timid about sharing your own trials.

    Mary

  2. Helen Calder Post author

    Mary, thank you also for sharing your heart.
    It sure helps to know that we are not alone, but that others also experience dry times.

    The Lord says in Isa 43:20, ‘I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen.’

    His desire is to bring us refreshing in the midst of our dryness, not when we’re out the other side of it. Don’t you love that about God? (I sure do)

  3. Helen Calder Post author

    DAY 1, SOAP JOURNALING:
    In order to test SOAP, I’m using my ‘One Year Bible,’ which takes me through 4 chapters each day. My Feb 6 readings included passages from Exodus, Matthew and Psalms.

    Without SOAP, I would be more inclined to scan these scriptures without them touching me personally (okay, I confess to being prone to that 🙂 )

    A few verses in the readings that I felt God was speaking to me through leapt out at me quickly.

    The SOAP process enabled me to focus on what the scripture meant in the context, as well as how it applies to me today. Then it encouraged me to personalise my response with a prayer at the end.

    As a result, I have some challenging food for thought… convicting stuff and also a call to intimacy with God.

    This method of journaling is surprisingly simple, and I love that it is centred in hearing God speak through the Bible.

  4. Michael Young

    Hi Helen,

    This is one spot on piece of advice for me at the moment, as I realise it as a weakness for me. I hope to take soak up the scriptures and draw from them the ‘life’ that David speaks of.

    Regards,
    Michael

  5. Helen Calder Post author

    That’s great, Michael.
    I love your choice of words, ‘soaking up’ the scriptures. It’s a great picture of how it can be for us.

  6. Helen Calder Post author

    DAY 2:
    I didn’t feel like journaling today, but my accountability to the blog this week pushed me into it 🙂
    Was glad I did, had such a WOW moment. The OT reading was in Exodus, about the construction of the tabernacle, and the bit that leapt out at me was the oil-fed lamps in the temple. The priests had to tend them so that they burned continuously. It reminded me of the story of the 10 bridesmaids who had to keep their lamps burning while waiting for the bridegroom. Five wise had oil to spare, but the five foolish ran out and missed the wedding (Matt 25:1-13).
    When I turned to my NT reading, it was Matt 25! That was incredible, out of a whole year of readings that’s what it was. So glad the Spirit is speaking to me through God’s Word.
    The application was the reminder to stay filled with the Spirit of God, and to enlarge my capacity so that I have a reserve-supply of His anointing in my life. Or simply—more of God!

  7. Helen Calder Post author

    DAY 3:
    I am enjoying that this journaling is centred in the Bible whilst also listening to the Holy Spirit.
    Today the verses that stood out to me were clear, but when it came to the ‘application’ section I hesitated, unsure of what to write. But after asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me I found I was able to really dig into some connecting scriptures and find personal meaning that was really inspiring. Not surprisingly, it was a continuation of yesterday’s theme.

  8. Helen Calder Post author

    DAY 4:
    I found this harder today, the choice of scriptures from the daily readings were more difficult to receive inspiration from (and I should have done this earlier when my mind wasn’t glazed over from working at the computer too long).

    Read back over the last few days for some stimulus, which wasn’t forthcoming, then just decided I’d better get on with it instead of staring at the page.

    I couldn’t get past Jesus’ patience and perseverance with Peter in those last hours including Gethsemane (Matt 26). And the crowning gem–in spite of all Peter’s weakness and lack of ability to really ‘get’ what was going on in Jesus’ world, Jesus still wanted Peter close to Him.

    So often I don’t ‘get it’ either, and am slumbering at my journal instead of catching on to what is on the heart of God. The reminder that Jesus still wants to hang out with me is blessing indeed.

  9. Helen Calder Post author

    DAY 5:
    The benefit of including Psalms in the daily Bible readings is that when nothing else seems to catch your attention, there is usually something relevant in the heart cries of David and the other Psalmists.
    Timeless.
    [Selah] 🙂

  10. Helen Calder Post author

    DAY 6:
    I haven’t journaled for a couple of days–started an entry and then became distracted and didn’t complete it. But went back to it today and saw that I had made only one note: Exodus 33.
    Reflecting upon Exodus 33 today I find myself inspired by Moses friendship with God. It is as though I am reading this familiar passage with new eyes.
    Another benefit of SOAP journaling–when you’re looking for gold, you can be sure that you will find it.

  11. Katelyn

    Hi Helen,

    It’s interesting that you said the SOAP method encouraged you to look at the verse in context. My biggest criticism of the SOAP method is that there is no interpretation step, and while it’s good for new Christians to be at least reading the Bible, it can also be very easy for them (and all Christians) to get an application contrary to the scripture if they don’t follow even basic hermeneutical principles (such as context). My favourite example goes as follows:

    S = Amos 5:5 “But do not seek Bethel, Nor enter Gilgal, Nor pass over to Beersheba; For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, And Bethel shall come to nothing.”
    O = The reader is told not to seek Bethel or go to it. Bethel means ‘house of God’.
    A = God is telling me not to attend church (the house of God) this week.
    P = God, I love church, but help me to be obedient to your will and stay at home this week.

    I know it’s a little exaggerated, but I’ve heard people share their ‘observations’ and ‘applications’ from these before and they can definately go off track. Have you come across this as well? It drives me crazy!

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Katelyn,
      Your example is amusing! 🙂 Yes, and unfortunately, the same Christians who would misuse the SOAP method in the way you mention above would be inclined to misuse any method (and I hate to think what they would be like prophesying!)
      Here’s the thing, and you point it out so well: Any devotional tool, including SOAP, requires some foundational understanding of Biblical interpretation and principles of accountability as well.

      I personally don’t normally use the SOAP method for my own devotions, but appreciate that it may suit some people–so long as they have the above in place!

      Thanks for your insight, Katelyn. Am intrigued–is this an area that you may be able to encourage and teach people in yourself? I hear that passion!

  12. Emj

    Thank you you for a timely refresher! As I was journaling this morning I retread Psalm 91 and wrote down the first verse and the thoughts that came with it. Your article on SOAP journaling just read seemed to be an affirmation of this.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      I love Psalm 91! I also love it when God blesses us with confirmations like this. Thank you so much for leaving the note.

  13. Adoliyinepoore obed

    Very great of you. I have lost appetite for the word, prayer, fellowship and service to God. In fact I felt very dry, but just going 7signs of spiritual dryness and how to combat them, I m revived. Praise God and God bless.
    Adoliyinepoore Obed

  14. Nkem Augustina Adaoyibo

    You won’t believe how much this teaching has helped me. I was completely dried and burned out and I was having funny dreams and just doing my ministry assignment as a duty not with passion but so that my members won’t say pastor is not trying. But this morning I got woke up angry feeling so empty and dried so I decided to do study on spiritual dryness that’s how I came across this your teaching. I’m fired up again, really blessed by it, thanks for opening my eyes to my best ways of connecting to my maker(God) and so on. God bless you you are really a blessing. Wow! I’m fired up again and never to go down by my father’s Grace( GOD) much love! Thanks for the insight on how to rebuilding my devotional life. You are too much!

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      I’m so glad to hear that, Nkem, and I add my prayers that you will be filled up to overflowing!

  15. Bukola

    Thank you Helen. Your oil of anointing will not run dry and God will continue to uphold and strengthen you in Jesus name. I like the way you emphasize about how we sometimes run dry or been bore at time when Observing daily devotion, but above all to rekindle and motivate ourselves by using SOAP.

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