When the Word No Longer Speaks To You – Part One

There is a social movement today called “white noise.” There are web sites regarding it; apps you can download and program to your own tastes. I don’t make use of any of these things. However, it seems that it is quiet background music or nature sounds that help you to relax, sleep better, and generally live your daily life in a better frame of mind and spirit. It is simply ‘nice noise’ / ‘white noise’ playing in the background but it is not disturbing you nor does it draw your attention away from whatever you are doing. It is simply there and it is not trying to “speak to you” in any way and it does not contain a message that you need to hear.

Well, sometimes when we are attempting to read and understand the Bible it does not speak to us. If we were being honest we would admit that Bible-reading has become a chore rather than a delight. During these times, the words seem dry as dust. Your mind wanders. The pages are blank. White noise.

This is true for preachers as well. You go to the Scriptures to find food for God’s people, only to discover that the well seems to have run dry.

What do you do when you open your Bible and all you hear is white noise? God’s voice seems silent.

In this series I want to address this very common problem. I have personally known, over my 42 years of walking with the Lord, long seasons when I would open my Bible and hear only white noise. God apparently was not speaking to me. At least, not through His Word and not in a way that I was hearing Him. 

However, over the years, through prayer, discussions with a number of my mentors, long walks with my accountability partner, reading books, experimentation, and trial and error I have discovered a number of things that have helped me greatly when my Bible was no longer speaking to be and all I heard was white noise. Hopefully these ideas will help you if you are currently in a dry place. My prayer is that they might revolutionize your reading of Scripture.

Bible reading and studying God’s Word has a lot to do with the condition of your heart. The Bible is a divine book – inspired by God – and it is not just another piece of good literature. It is spiritual. It is life (John 6:63) and can go deep into our hearts and souls (Hebrews 4:12). In fact, we are born again through this powerful Word (1 Peter 1:23).

So, we need to approach God’s Word with a right heart. If our heart / spirit is not right with God, we will undoubtedly misunderstand the text and miss the riches that the Scriptures contain. I don’t want to address this issue. In this series I am assuming your heart is right before God, there is no unconfessed sin, and you are acting in love towards God, yourself, and all others. This series has to do with the strategies that we use when approaching God’s Word daily. Bible reading and Bible studying strategies.

I leave the condition of your heart up to you and the Holy Spirit.

Change #1: Move to a different section of the Bible

The Old Testament if divided up into three parts: The Law (which contains the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) ; the Prophets (which includes Kings, Chronicles, the Historical books, and the Prophetic writings); and the Writings (which include Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes).

The New Testament is divided up into the Gospels and Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation.

One of the first things we should do when there is white noise – the first line of offence for a mute Bible – is to stop what you are presently reading and switch to a different section of Scripture.

So, if your Bible turned to dust in the Law, move over to the Epistles (letters) and begin reading there.

If the Scriptures turned silent in the Prophets, move over to Acts.

Is the Gospels went out of tune, then start with Proverbs. 

I remember when I first learned this truth. I was a “read the Bible from front to back” person. After all, that how I read every book I own. I specifically remember the day when the Spirit of God spoke and quietly said, “The Bible is not a book – it is a library of 66 books.” So, as I thought about that I felt the freedom to move around in “The Book.” I soon realized that the order of the books found in the Bible was not chronological anyways. So, I was not going to get “the story” all mixed up by not reading from the first page through to the last page in order. 

Now, I read more New Testament than Old. I read through the whole Bible twice a year. I choose one New Testament book each year and do an in-depth study of the text. I read Proverbs every day – getting through that amazing book of wisdom once every month. I read chapter 1 on day one of the month and so on. I have discovered a rhythm that really helps eliminate the white noise and the dry seasons. Not entirely but it is much, much better.

More next time…