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Reading the Bible has been a regular routine in my life for as long as I can remember.
As a teenager who had just returned to my faith, I had an excited interest in discovering what the Bible really said, so I spent many hours reading through the pages of the New Testament, trying to learn the truths that were presented within.
I was hungry to know the Scriptures, after spending so much of my childhood simply hearing cute Bible stories, and then walking away from the faith for several years. At that point in my life, my relationship with God was becoming a big deal again, and I wanted a new relationship with His Word.
I would go home from work every night, sit down with my to-go box of cold dinner after a long shift at a restaurant, and I would open the Bible and read a chapter, taking notes on a legal pad as I went along.
Sometimes those notes would be just a rephrasing of a verse that stood out to me. Sometimes I would write down a question, or a thought, or something that I wanted to know more about. But every night was the same thing – turn to the next chapter, read and really think about what it was saying, and take notes. It was an incredibly enriching time for me, spiritually, and those late nights with the Bible helped me to navigate my life during that stage and to ultimately decide what I would do in the future.
Over the years my relationship with the Bible has had it’s ups and downs.
I’ve gone from being in love with Scripture and wanting more of it, to wondering why I even needed it, to wanting to deconstruct it, to knowing that it needed to be influential in my life and I needed to surrender to the God who wrote it.
It’s been an interesting relationship, but one thing has remained the same:
My relationship with God has always brought me back to His Word. And now, my desire to know His Word is stronger than ever, and I want my life to be conformed to what Jesus teaches in it.
I hope that you are developing the same interest or curiosity about the Bible. Hopefully you already have a set-aside time when you get alone with the Scriptures and read in order to know more about God. And hopefully you’re discovering that, as you spend time in His Word, your relationship with God is becoming more solid.
As you continue to develop your habit of reading and studying the Word, it’s important to make the most of that time, to do things that are going to enrich and deepen that time with the Bible. So, with that in mind, here are three things you can do to make sure you get the most from your time with God’s Word.
#1 – Keep a journal or a notebook
Like I said, one of my earliest habits when I started spending time in the Bible more involved writing notes and questions on a yellow legal pad. Over the years, I have used and accumulated stacks of notebooks that were used to aid my study of the Bible. Some were cheap composition notebooks from the dollar store. Others were a bit more expensive and fancier. Regardless of what type of notebook I had, the main objective was to have some blank pages to write down thoughts, prayers, or verses that I wanted to memorize. One of the benefits of this is that, years later, you can go back to one of your old notebooks and see what you were reading back then, or what you were struggling with and how God helped you to overcome it.
Writing stuff down helps me to process what I’m reading or learning. Maybe you are the same way. Keeping a notebook that goes along with your Bible is a great way to think more deeply about the Scriptures that you’re reading. Nowadays, I prefer to use a hardcover Moleskin notebook (affiliate link). They are durable and long-lasting, and the pages are thick and have plenty of space to write. This is my first suggestion for you!
#2 – Turn your reading into prayer
In the book of James we are told to not just be “hearers of the word, but doers also.” God wants His people to not just read and know the Scriptures, but to also go out and live the Scriptures. That’s an important part of an authentic faith. But, I would argue that before we take what we’ve read and go out to apply it to our lives, we need to first turn that Scripture into prayer.
We should be able to take what we’ve been reading and then direct those words to God in a prayer, asking Him to conform us to those Scriptures and make us the kind of people who not only BELIEVE them but also LIVE BY THEM. Maybe you write that prayer down in that notebook you picked up, or maybe you sit after reading and just spend some time talking to God out loud. Either way, it’s important to not rush off from your Bible reading time without first praying and seeking God’s help to put that Scripture into practice.
#3 – Find a way to read alone and in silence
Stillness and quiet is highly undervalued in our society. We are busy people and we pride ourselves on that, don’t we? We consider it a badge of honor to talk about ALL the stuff we have going on each day and how hectic our days can be. But reading the Bible really can’t be a rushed event, not if you want it to be spiritually nourishing and enriching.
It’s important, and better for us mentally and spiritually, if we make an effort to set aside a time when we can sit alone and in silence as we dive into the Scriptures. When we do this, we can really focus on what the words are saying. We can ensure that we have the space to talk honestly with God and maybe even hear from Him more clearly. And we can have a moment -even if it’s brief – to experience God working in our hearts or giving us more peace as we prepare for our day.
It’s necessary to be creative and strategic here. I have three kids who don’t believe in being quiet or still, so I have to be very intentional about when and where I spend time with the Bible. My time happens each morning, in my backyard, with a cup of coffee, before the kids get out of bed. Does this mean that I need to get out of bed a bit earlier? Absolutely. But do I regret it? No way. It’s been an incredibly enriching time for me. I know it can be for you too, if you just make the effort to build stillness and quiet into your daily routines.
[There are many resources out there that can give you direction and encouragement in your pursuit of a deeper spiritual life. One of my favorite books is Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Click below to access the Amazon link (affiliate link) and purchase a copy for yourself. In this book he talks about the spiritual disciplines of prayer, worship, fasting, and communion – all things that can help to deepen your faith and draw you closer to God. Be blessed in your pursuit of a more authentic faith!]