Friday, November 22, 2013

Being in the Word every day

It's the kind of email every Bible teacher loves to receive from one of her students. "I have a question for you," it read. "I struggle with being in the Word every single day. Is there any direction you can offer me to help? I'm open for all suggestions."

Back last summer, a friend and I were tossing ideas back and forth about what I could teach for the upcoming fall session of Bible study. We kept returning to the prophets and I expressed doubt--well founded doubt--on my ability to adequately teach such an intimidating subject. Finally, my friend and I decided that our goal for our particular group was a simple one: to encourage women to love the Word of God. If just one woman, we agreed between ourselves, if just one woman leaves a lesson on on the prophets curious to know more about the Word then, well, we will consider our time well spent.

So I get this email. And I pause and in great humility I praise the Lord for His grace and faithfulness--this is what we asked Him for!--and then I type my response. Here is how I sought to encourage this sweet, eager student of the Word...

You are not alone! I think we all struggle with consistently spending time studying and meditating on God's Word. I know I do! I'm not sure exactly what you are looking for, but here's a couple of things I do/have done. 
Read through the Bible. There are all sorts of Bible reading plans out there! Just a simple google search will turn up tons. So many times we put this off until January 1 but there's no magic in beginning at the new year nor even in beginning in Genesis 1 for that matter! There are plans that are just the gospels, just the New Testament, two year plans, six month plans, etc. Find a plan that appeals to you and begin today. Just reading the Word and gaining a "big picture" perspective as well as increased familiarity have been greatly encouraging to me.
Work through studies and books that have a daily Scripture reading and questions. Here are a couple I'm familiar with and highly recommend:
Memorize Scripture. This is something I'm not very good at but really want to be better. When I do try to be more diligent, I use Desiring God's Fighter Verses app for my phone but again there are probably multiple scripture memory helps out there. I like that there are several memorization tools within the app as well as various tracks to choose from. For instance you can memorize whole sections of Scripture and the app breaks it down into weekly memory verses. 
Remember what your goal is. Sometimes I get so hung up on checking the little boxes for my daily reading plan or memory verse and feeling so guilty when I miss that I tend to just give up altogether. I have to ask myself: is the point really reading Bible through in a year...or is it to know the Word and thereby to know God and to love Him more? If its the second then I can repent for missing yesterday (and the day before and the day before and...) and set my heart to seek Him TODAY. True confessions: I totally dropped the ball for a couple of months this summer. Ok, more than that. I picked back up with October's reading (totally skipping all those books of the Bible I was supposed to have read before) and, yet, still, today I read the entry for October 27. :) But there is grace, much grace, and the Lord promises to meet the seeking heart with Himself. He is so good! 
Hope that helps! If not, email me back and ask me more questions. I love questions like this and it encourages me more than you know!

How much do I love God's Word and how much do I love seeing others grow in that same desire! May the Lord grant us all a hunger to grow in the knowledge of Him through the diligent study of His Word!

What encouragement would you offer to someone eager to spend time in God's Word more consistently?


  1. One idea I would offer is to find a friend or small group of friends who will use the same reading plan you are, and to talk about what you're reading from time to time. It's just so encouraging to know that someone else is making the same effort, and the conversations about the Word can be priceless.

  2. I suggest to read a little each day even if you feel like you're too tired to absorb anything. I find that no matter how tired I am, there is often something that stands out in what I read. Even if I put the Word down not having any idea what I read, I'm still putting the Word in my subconscious & keeping myself in the habit of reading. The goal is listening to God through His Word rather than worrying about how many chapters I read that day.

    1. I hate always being the bad guy. Who knows, maybe I sinfully love it, in which case God needs to change my heart (plenty of room to grow here). Anyway, I think it's good what you said about continuing to read even if you feel like you're too tired to get much out that you can remember. After all, we often just come away with an impression of God--that he is powerful or compassionate or wrathful against sin--without remembering the specifics of a passage. However, I would challenge the idea that putting His word "into our subconscious" is beneficial as if the mind does not need to be consciously engaged to change our thoughts, affections, actions. But again, I agree that we should focus more on even a small amount that we read and comprehend rather than worrying about a specific quantity, which you say well.

  3. I agree with Debbie - I've found it much easier to keep reading the bible when I get in a routine or pattern - doing it the same time every day. For the last few years thats been as soon as I get home from school, since I can't think in the mornings, but now that I've finished school I'm trying to work out the best time for it.

    I also think having friends who will ask you how your going and who you can ask as well is really helpful.

  4. When one of my women or students share this struggle with me, I often suggest that they start with a Psalm a day. For accountability, I ask that they might email me what the Lord had shown them in the text and rejoice, dig deeper, or pray with them as they do this. It is always exciting to me to know someone is in the Word and hearing the Lord.

  5. For me one of the things that really helped me was actually something that seemed difficult: Professor Horner's Bible Reading System - 10 chapters every day, from 10 different books. Sounds impossible, but I found a number of benefits:

    1. It's a lot easier than the Bible in the year, because you're reading a greater variety, rather than trying to read through 3 or 4 chapters of Leviticus.
    2. It gave me a better picture of the broad sweep of the Bible
    3. You'll get different combinations of chapters at different times, which sometimes makes new connections you didn't see before.
    4. In order to make it work, you'll have to re-arrange your life. Sometimes I think people struggle because they're trying to squeeze Bible reading into their life, rather than vice versa.
    5. Personally, part of my reading time was in the mornings. This meant that my kids got to watch me read the Bible, which I had realised was an important thing for me to model.

    I cannot recommend it more highly.

  6. Getting an audio Bible helped me. I can always listen to it while I do something else, like drive or cook or fold laundry.