When my husband asked me what I wanted this book to be about, the answer was clear to me. “I want to write about God’s word,” I said. “But not the ‘how to’—there are lots of excellent books about Bible reading and study methods. I want to write about the ‘why,’ the heart behind opening our Bibles. I want to help the person who feels stuck and defeated.”
So, yes, this is a book about food, but of a different category. It is about the life-giving nourishment God has graciously provided for his hungry, starving people throughout the ages: his word. I am praying that Hungry will freshly entice you to feast on true food, the living words of the living God who alone can sustain and satisfy your eternal hunger with himself.
Now, you may be thinking, That’s great, Kristen. The answer might have come easily to you, but it’s hard for me to read my Bible. I know I’m supposed to, but I have little desire for it. I’ll never be where other Christians are, where you are.
But do you want to know where my heart is? Probably in a similar position as yours. Just when I thought I would be writing this book from a place of relative strength, I was thrust into the reality of my weakness. I was reawakened to my need for grace.
I was reminded that all of us are dependent on the Lord to make us more hungry for him.
And if you think you’re alone in not wanting to read your Bible, think differently. A recent article about American Bible reading habits says, “Relatively few Americans—including Christians—read the Bible often.” Only one in six adults reads the Bible most days during the week.
This finding confirms what I’ve heard from many people over the last year. Through surveying various groups and talking to friends, church leaders, and pastors, by far the most common word used to describe peoples’ appetites for God’s word is hungry, yet this takes on different tones in different contexts. Some have said their hunger is a deep and ever-increasing desire for Scripture (praise God for that), while many others have used it to describe a languishing or longing of the soul.
They are hungry—but not hungry enough to engage.
They are hungry—but not sure what to do about it.
They are hungry—but for other things.
Revival and Reorientation
How would you describe your current appetite for God’s word? Maybe it has been years since you’ve opened a Bible, or maybe you’ve never read it before. Perhaps you engage with Scripture consistently, but your heart feels flat to it, and you’ve grown discouraged. Maybe Bible reading has seemed like more of a “supposed to” than a “want to,” and you’re not convinced you could feel differently. Or maybe the desire is there, but you struggle to act on it.
This is why I’m writing this book: it seems to me that the church needs a revival of hunger for the living words of the living God—a compelling answer to the question, How can I love Scripture again?—as well as a reorientation about what engaging with God’s word actually looks like for hungry people with full lives.
We need a stirring up and a settling down.
As we’ll see, the stirring up of the human heart isn’t a formula, but a supernatural gift. In other words, the right spiritual food doesn’t necessarily equal spiritual appetite. A person can engage with God’s words by reading or hearing them and remain hardened, as Jesus talks about in his parable of the sower (Matt. 13:1–23).
But we also can’t expect our appetites to grow if we aren’t feeding on soul-food. There is a connection between consuming God’s words and loving God’s words. And yet, we also need his direct, divine intervention. We need him. Pastor and author John Piper says this.
…the act of reading, in order to be done as God intended, must be done in dependence on God’s supernatural help….If more people approached the Bible with a deep sense of helplessness, and hope-filled reliance on God’s merciful assistance, there would be far more seeing and savoring and transformation than there is.
The stirring up of our souls is something only God can do—and is anything too hard for him (Jer. 32:27)? As you read this book, my hope is that God will use it to this end, that he will whet your appetite for his word as we explore the questions, Why should I love Scripture? And how is it possible for me to desire it again? I pray by the end that you will be refreshed and compelled to feast on his living words in a new way. I pray that, right this moment, you will open yourself up to this supernatural possibility, however apathetic or discouraged you may feel.
But we not only need a stirring up, we need a settling down.
And I don’t mean “we need to settle” (far from it!). I mean we need to rest in the many amazing opportunities and contexts God has provided us to consume his word, rather than constantly feeling guilty about not having perfect daily devotions—what we have come to know as “quiet time.”
Which is not bad or wrong! Quiet time is a very, very good habit.
But we need a reorientation about what loving God’s word actually looks like for hungry people with full lives; we need biblical reorientation, rather than trying to mimic historical or cultural ideals. Ultimately, we need to combat false guilt from narrow notions about what it means to feast on God’s words, and rest in God’s kindness to give us ample opportunities to enjoy Scripture.
In other words, it’s possible you’re not failing in this area as much as you think you are.
I believe we will be encouraged by what we discover.
Content taken from Help for the Hungry Soul: Eight Encouragements to Grow Your Appetite for God’s Word by Kristen Wetherell, ©2023. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.