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Why Applying Scripture Is So Tough

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” (Ephesians 3:16 NLT)

Applying Scripture to our lives isn’t easy. If it were easy, more people would be doing it. Most people who read the Bible don’t really apply what they read to their lives. Why?

It’s hard work! But what makes applying God’s Word so hard? Here are three reasons it’s hard for you and me to apply Scripture to our lives.

  • Application requires serious thought. It takes long periods of concentrated prayer and thought before you can apply the Scripture you’re learning. You won’t always understand the application immediately. You have to think about what you’ve read. You have to meditate on it. That takes time most people often don’t want to give.
  • Satan fights application. He fights it viciously. The devil's strongest attacks are going to come in your quiet time when you’re trying to apply what you've studied. Satan knows that as long as you’re content with merely hearing the Word or reading the Word, you are not much of a threat to his plans. But as soon as you get serious about making changes in your life, he's going to fight you tooth and nail because he hates doers of the Word.
  • We naturally resist change.  It’s human nature; no one likes to change. But that’s God’s main purpose with his Word. He wants it to change our lives. He wants to make us more like Jesus. The key to making us more like Jesus is applying God’s Word. That’s why most churches focus on interpreting Scripture and learning about the Bible’s background. Most people are happy to do that. You can learn all about the people of the Bible, the background of the Bible, and the doctrines of the Bible, and still live carnally. We’re happy to apply God’s Word to other people, but we don’t like doing it to ourselves.

We grow spiritually and become mature Christians by applying God’s Word to our lives. You and I need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the strength, because we don't have the strength on our own to obey. The Bible calls us to ask God to empower us through his Spirit: “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit” (Ephesians 3:16 NLT). These obstacles will get in our way every time in our own power. But God has “unlimited resources” to help us apply his Word to our lives. We just have to ask him.

Talk About It

  • What are the distractions today that are keeping you from deeper meditation on God’s Word?
  • When you pray for strength, God may use people in your life to provide the support you need. Do you have people in your life with whom you share your struggles and who will hold you accountable to grow spiritually?


Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

This devotional © 2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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