Between the hugeness of God, the great length of the Bible, the seemingly infinite number of Bible-study methods or resources, and the limitations of my time to spend with God, it is very easy for me to come into my “quiet time” overwhelmed and paralyzed. Should I read the Old Testament? Where should I start? Does He want me in one of Paul’s letter? Or should I be reading more of Jesus’ words? What about Proverbs–shouldn’t I be reading one of those each day? It is all too easy to spend the majority of my time with God just figuring out how I should spend it. I “finish” frustrated and feeling like a failure.
Today I’d like to offer just these two pieces of my personal history with God’s word that have been greatly fruitful so far this year. Would you share with us how God’s word is working into your life too?
I read a blog post just after Christmas titled, A Bible-Reading Plan for Readers. I qualify in that category and decided to jump in. I’m vastly behind, but the goal is to let the Bible be the first book I read this year. It’s a challenge I’m behind on, but a very worthwhile endeavor.
Whether you’re able to read at that pace or not, what this experiment has shown me is the great value of reading God’s word for the big picture. The Bible is one continuous story of God’s great love for wayward people. Reading in small portions is beneficial at times, but reading for the big story shows us just how patient and compassionate our God has always been. There is no “angry Old Testament God” who looks nothing like loving Jesus. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The Bible is one continuous story of God’s great love for wayward people.
Set aside some time to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John in one sitting. Grab a chronological or historical Bible and read the accounts of David alongside the Psalms he wrote in those times. Read one of Paul or Peter’s letters at once, not looking for small truths but for big themes like persecution, holiness, or the Church. Resist the temptation to make the Bible about you and let it speak for itself. Watch for God to shine brilliantly in the midst of His word.
And while we’ve touched on this second part before, I feel compelled to come back to this one thing: praying the Word of God.
We’ve been here before, where we see the importance of banking our hopes and anxieties on the promises God has made to us. Sometimes I’ll spend time writing out a portion of Scripture and pray over each phrase. Line by line, sometimes phrase by phrase, I’ll ask the Lord to make His word true in my life and submit my circumstances to the Light of His promises.
It might look something like this:
Philippians 2:1-16 [and how my heart should read and respond]
So if there is any encouragement in Christ [I want to encourage others in You—use me],
any comfort from love [I need You to love genuinely through me],
You can read the rest here.
Memorizing Scripture is the other means of prayer God keeps pushing into my life. With a handful of friends, following along with Ann Voskamp, I’m memorizing parts of John this year. You can check it out here. Hiding God’s word in my heart has aided my prayer life in two ways.
First, when I’m praying for others, whether aloud or all by myself, I can recall the words of God to pray for them and know that I am praying in accordance with the will of God. Nothing stirs my heart like hearing a friend pray God’s words for me. My friend, Soozi, does this beautifully, and I know when she prays for me that God wants to give me what she’s asking for. He’s already said so in His word.
And secondly, I’ve also found the words of God to be my only good thoughts on bad days, in the wake of hard news, or when I cannot sleep at night. Several months ago I unexpectedly came into knowledge of someone’s sin and the fallout in my heart was devastating. The darkness was on repeat in my head and heart. I soon realized how all my thoughts were making much of the work of Satan and sin, and while I had no better thoughts to muster, I did have the word of God. All the way home from work that day I repeated aloud any verse I had ever memorized. Whenever I stopped my thoughts went back to the bad, so I just did not stop.
All the way home from work that day I repeated aloud any verse I had ever memorized.
For God so loved the world…
I love those who love me…
It did not matter the verse or its relevance. The word of God was powerful to calm my clamorous heart and bring peace where Satan was trying to destroy me. His word will prove powerful in your life too, beloved.
So I’ll leave you with this thought, the underlying truth between both of these time-with-God tips: He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
He will make good on His word; it is living and active. (Hebrews 4:12)
His word will be a lamp for our feet, a light for our path, and the remedy for all the worthless things our eyes could see. (Psalm 119:37, 105)
Because our God is faithful, we can come to spend time with Him trusting He will accomplish what He wants to accomplish in our lives. We can let go of the details and set our hearts simply on getting as much of Jesus as we can, as much of His story as we can hold onto, as much of His word as we can grasp.
When we begin to see His faithfulness in our “quiet times,” our hearts are awakened to His continual presence. It’s not about us getting things right; it’s about our God who makes us right with Him.
It’s not about doing the good things for Him; it’s about showing up, opening up wide, and trusting He will do the good things in us.
Share with us:
- How are you spending time with God today, Beloved? What is He using to hold your heart close to Him?
- What challenges make it difficult to spend time reading and memorizing God’s word? What tools or methods or scheduling tips would you recommend to someone who is struggling?