How to Read the Bible When You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

There are two lies I tell myself every night:

  1. I’m going to go to bed early.

  2. I’m going to get up early.

When my children were babies, I thought I would be able to sleep through the night “one of these days.” My youngest is now four and is sleeping through the night, but it seems that getting a good night’s sleep is still not happening for me.

What draws me out of bed each morning before the children awake? I wish I could say it was the habit of early rising or even the promise of coffee. But if I’m honest, I have to force myself to get up each day.

No matter how often I drag myself out of bed in the early morning hours, I have yet to make it a subconscious habit. Even on those rare nights when I do end up going to bed at a decent hour, I still struggle to get up early. Every morning is a battle of the wills: a will to spend time with God fighting against a will to get just twenty more minutes of sleep.

SOUND FAMILIAR?

Maybe you’re like me and it always feels like a fight to wake up early. That’s okay. I’ve found that the more I do it, the more I see the value in it. Even when I am tired and worn, I read my Bible because it has become a necessity. I read my Bible because I’ve found the value of feasting on God’s Word.

By simply reading God’s word every day, you will find that your heart is more at rest, your mind is not as tempted to stray, and your attitude improves.

There are lots of things we must do in a day, but we always find time to eat, right? Let’s be honest, a leftover cobbler is sitting in my fridge and I plan on eating a piece tonight after the kids go to bed. If I plan ahead for the dessert I’ll eat this evening, surely I can do the same with my Bible reading. And just like the fundamental need to eat every day, we have a fundamental need to spend time with God for our spiritual and emotional health.

Bible reading must become a non-negotiable daily activity for us. Why? Because we need the words of God to soak into our minds, hearts, and souls. By simply reading God’s word every day, you will find that your heart is more at rest, your mind is not as tempted to stray, and your attitude improves.

In order to regularly feast on God’s Word, you must have a plan. But before you can come up with a plan, there are a few things you don’t want to do.  

DON’T RELY ON YOUR ATTITUDE

Often we wait until we “feel” like reading our Bibles. This world holds such sin, temptation, and heartache. Our desires are tainted by the enemy. We often won’t feel like reading the Bible, but that’s when we need to read it most! Even reading one verse can cause a shift in your mind, your heart, and your attitude. Making it a priority for you might mean waking up early or it might mean reading your Bible instead of reading your “fun” books at night. It might look like taking copious notes in the margins of your Bible or opening the Bible app on your phone and reading a chapter before turning out the light.

DON’T STRIVE TO UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING

The freeing thing about reading God’s Word is that you don’t have to do a deep study to benefit from it. There is a time and a place for deep Bible study. I love digging deep and studying the Greek and Hebrew words, reading the historical context, and comparing similar passages of Scripture. However, Bible reading without studying is like enjoying the forest instead of the individual trees. Simply reading God’s Word will allow you to see the big picture and cover more ground.

DON’T JUST SAMPLE THE BIBLE

Sometimes we only enjoy “snacks” of God’s word and then wonder why we feel spiritually famished. Having a daily Bible reading plan helps tremendously. I am currently reading four to five chapters a day. It is a lot, but it only takes fifteen to twenty minutes. If I can spend fifteen minutes enjoying a late-night dessert, I can spend the same amount of time feasting on God’s Word. Scripture is rich, warm, and comforting, much like the blueberry cobbler I plan to enjoy tonight. God’s Word will warm your soul, feed your mind, and keep your thoughts set on the things of Christ. Why would we not do this daily?

PLAN TO READ THE BIBLE

If Bible reading is something you want to make a priority in your life, here are a few tips for how to make it happen.

1. Read early in the morning. Choose the treasure of God’s Word over sleep. Consider giving up thirty minutes of extra sleep for thirty minutes of prayer and Bible reading. I promise you it will be worth it!

2. Read throughout the day. Keep your Bible open on your desk or on the kitchen counter. Read a passage or a few verses while you cook or when the kids are quiet.

3. Listen to the Bible. When you’re driving in the car or when you’re doing chores around the house, turn on a Bible app and have a passage read to you. Listening to God’s word can be just as effective as reading it.

4. Keep verse cards or a small Bible close by. How many times do you wait during the day? Whether you’re at a doctor’s appointment, stuck in traffic, or waiting during your kids’ practices, these moments are a great time to pull out Scripture and read a few chapters. Did you know you can read the book of Philippians in less than 20 minutes?

5. Read before bed. Have you ever scrolled through social media right before bed? Me too! But what if, instead of spending twenty minutes catching up on old college roommates you never see, you used the time to read a few Psalms?

6. Get a plan. Having a daily reading plan takes out most of the hard work of reading God’s Word. Here are some Bible reading plans I put together to help.

FEAST ON GOD’S WORD

As a mother of five children, a homeschool teacher, and a missionary, my life will likely always be busy. Sleep is something I’m tempted to hoard like rare gold. But I’m discovering there is a deeper, more lasting treasure than sleep—the treasure of God’s Word.

May you too know the value of daily Bible reading. May you feast on God’s Word, even with little sleep, and find that it nourishes your mind and your spirit.


Sarah Frazer is a writer and Bible study mentor at sarahefrazer.com. She is the wife of Jason and mother of five. Although she serves in her local church, holds in-home Bible studies, and is preparing to be a full-time missionary to Honduras, her passion is to encourage women to get in the Bible. Sarah is also an author of three self-published Bible studies for women. She shares tools for deep-rooted Bible study at sarahefrazer.com. Download her free prayer challenge at sarahefrazer.com/prayer.