I purchased my first goat as a thirteen-year-old fresh out of the city suburbs. I had no idea what I was in for. I named my new pet Sarah Jane, and exactly one day after my purchase, she had four kids. And I had my hands full. Sarah Jane nursed two of the kids, and I bottle fed the other two.
Bottle feeding goat kids is fun. They’re energetic, cute, and always look like they’re up to something. Healthy kids attack a bottle the moment it’s within leap reach. They drain it quickly and use every trick they know to coax for more.
But one morning, when the kids were two weeks old, one of them showed no interest in her bottle. Zero. Her ears drooped, and she made little effort even to be petted. I remember the concern that gripped my heart as I called the farm where I had purchased her mother.
Over the years, I’ve felt similar concern for young Christians I’ve ministered to. And sometimes for myself.
What do you do when you lose your hunger for the Word of God?
Many Christian women who hear a message on the importance of Bible reading or who are reminded of the impact Scripture can have on their lives respond with either guilt (“I tried to have devotions, but I can’t stay consistent”) or fresh determination (“maybe this time”).
But the picture Scripture paints of a growing Christian’s intake of the Word of God is not a grit-your-teeth-and-do-your-devotions attitude. It is a hunger—a desire—to hear God’s voice and to meditate on His Word.
“…I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”—Job 23:12
“I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.”—Psalm 119:131
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”—1 Peter 2:2
The cure for the two-week-old goat kid turned out to be thankfully simple, and it included helping to reset her appetite.
How can you do the same spiritually? What do you do when you lose your appetite for God’s Word? When in all honesty you know that it’s not the desire of your heart?
1. Feed the Appetite You Do Have
So maybe your appetite for God’s Word isn’t consuming. Maybe you’re like me and salads. I don’t dislike salads. In fact, if I have a really good one, I’m happy to call that a meal. I’ll even resolve afterward to make salads more often. It’s just that I don’t.
If you are saved, there is some appetite in your heart—however stifled or ignored it may be—for the Word of God. Feed it. Set aside time to read Scripture. Listen to it from an app on your phone. Make deliberate effort to be in church and hear the preaching of God’s Word. Feed the appetite you do have, and it will grow.
2. Starve Competing Appetites
Just as junk food decreases our appetite for nutritious food, so there are ways we fill our minds and hearts that decrease our appetite for God’s Word. They may not even be sinful, but if they divert our attention and, worse, destroy our appetite for Scripture, they might need to go—at least for a season.
Competing appetites could include excessive amounts of time on Facebook, thriller fiction that dulls your senses for real life (and your own real needs), or the level of busyness that leaves you too exhausted to engage in any level of real thought above Candy Crush.
3. Examine Your Heart
If you sense no hunger at all for God’s Word, something is wrong. Period.
It is the newborn babe who desires the sincere milk of the Word. Some never desire it because they’re never newborn, and some lose their desire because they become spiritually sick. Perhaps they’ve allowed the malice, hypocrisy, or envy which 1 Peter 2:1 references to enter their heart. Perhaps in another area they’ve quenched the voice of the Holy Spirit who speaks through His Word.
4. Practice Spiritual Discipline
Is it conflicting advice to on one hand suggest that spending time in God’s Word isn’t to be merely a grit-your-teeth-and-do-it activity, and on the other hand encourage it as a developed discipline? No. Here’s why:
Sometimes we have a hunger, and sometimes we don’t. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. Practicing spiritual discipline helps put you in a place for that hunger to return. It’s like eating nutritious food even when you don’t feel well because you know you need the strength. Or more drastically, it’s like using a feeding tube even when you don’t want to eat. Don’t discount the benefit of developing a daily discipline for an intake of God’s Word when you’re combining that with a desire to increase your hunger for it.
5. Apply Truth
Hearing without doing is discouraging and inoculating. It reinforces the lie that God’s Word can’t change your life and that it doesn’t make a difference whether or not you read it.
Applying truth, on the other hand, makes changes that work toward conforming us to the image of Christ and increase our hunger for more. As we allow the Holy Spirit to use His Word to work real transformation in our lives, we are more aware than ever of our need for Him, and we turn with renewed hunger to His promises for help in the process.
6. Make Simple Adjustments
Maybe what worked for you last year doesn’t now. Maybe you need to change your schedule or your reading plan or get to bed earlier or start a journal or…. Take a step back to identify specific obstacles and make related adjustments accordingly. Ask a friend for help if needed. But don’t be content to say, “It just doesn’t work for me.” Find solutions, and be ready to make adjustments.
Our hunger for the Word of God is, in fact, a measurement of our spiritual health. Thankfully, we can make changes that will increase our appetite for the “sincere milk of the Word” and by it, grow.