My grandparents gave me a beautiful Bible for Christmas when I was about eleven. The cover is burgundy leather, the pages are thin and crisp, Jesus’ words are in red, and they found a calligrapher to inscribe the front page for me. I immediately determined that I was going to read that Bible all the way through.
I did – until I got to Genesis 11, where I promptly gave up after columns of ‘begats’ and stories of people I didn’t understand.
I continued to try on and off for years. I wanted to read my Bible and be able to understand more of God’s love story to us, but I always gave up.
I don’t understand it anyway.
I’ll try again later.
I could find lots of excuses, but I couldn’t figure out how to make Bible reading work for me.
I was missing a few crucial components:
• A plan
When I put these things into place after my daughter was born – out of sheer desperation! – I suddenly fell in love with my Bible. I couldn’t wait to read it and didn’t want to stop when I came to the end of that day’s prescribed reading.
Deciding that stopping wasn’t an option. Finding a study plan that made sense to me. Having people who would hold me accountable to my commitment.
If you want to start studying your Bible, where can you find those things?
Begin with prayer. Ask God for determination to stick with it and wisdom to understand what you read each day. My determination came, but the plan and the wisdom? That was all Him. He sent some great resources my way, and maybe they could help you, too.
• Reading straight through the Bible didn’t work for me because I love stories, and the Bible isn’t set up in chronological order. The Daily Chronological Bible was a great find for me! It’s broken into 365 daily Bible chunks, but those chunks are rearranged in chronological order – making it read like the big love story from God that it is. If you’d rather try a different type of plan, you can find lots more here.
• Wendy Pope, a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries, used to host a free teaching session on her blog each day. She no longer does this, but you can go back and read old lessons and watch the teaching videos she made for each day under the ‘RTW’ tab on her blog.
• I liked the study method that Wendy Pope taught in her online group: 1-2-3. Each day you look for something in that day’s reading to journal about in your notebook that falls into each of three categories: 1) something new to you, 2) something you have a question about, and 3) something you can apply to your life now. As a rather studious person, this made sense to me! I loved having a notebook and taking notes on what I read. It helped me focus and read with more intent.
• There are other study methods, however. The SOAP method is quite popular. This stands for study, observe, apply, and pray. You can read more about this method here.
• Having some good resources to go for more information can be great, too. A good concordance – book that cross-references Bible verses – and a dictionary to explain what words meant in the original languages can really help you a lot. My personal favorite is the Strong’s Concordance.
• If you’re an office supplies nut like me, than indulge yourself and get ready. Find a nice journal to write in. Pick some smooth-flowing pens for underlining, making notes, or writing out prayers. Find a pretty basket or box to organize your supplies so that you can pick them up and be ready to go.
But accountability? Where can you find people like that? Hopefully you will find someone in your church or family, but maybe not. I certainly had no idea where to find someone, and you might not, either. Technology can be a great thing, though!
• Visit the ‘Good Morning Girls’. This online accountability group organizes Bible studies and puts people into groups. The idea is that you participate wherever you are, whenever you can, and then you email the others in your group when you’ve done your part. Find out more on their Facebook page here.
• If you do know of someone, you could set up your own group. I know two people who made a personal commitment to email each other when they had finished their Bible study time for the day. This was a big motivation for them to stay on track!
So, are you ready? Can you do it? YES! It IS possible to read your Bible and have a quiet time with God each day. It may not look the same for everyone, but try it. Figure out what works for you. You’ll be amazed at how exciting it can be.
What’s your biggest obstacle in having a daily quiet time? What’s the best tip you can share with someone who wants to start one?