I am still learning and maturing in my faith. After many years, however, I have finally developed a daily quiet time with God. I wish I had done this consistently throughout my life.
I would like to share what works for me and maybe this will help you.
Why is reading your Bible and praying important?
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119: 105
Even though the Bible was written long ago, reading God's Word and praying helps us to navigate life. If we don't read His Word and talk with Him, it is difficult to hear His voice and grow spiritually.
Reading the Bible and praying also helps us to be more like Jesus, even though we fall short. Scripture instructs us how to live, love, forgive, share His Word, and serve others.
This time is also a time in which we tell God how much we love Him -- a time of praise and gratitude.
Spending time with God also helps us to have an eternal perspective. We live in this world but we are not to be "of this world."
Determine Where You Will Have Your Quiet Time
We are empty-nesters so our home is relatively quiet. So, I alternate between three locations -- my desk, sitting in one of our "flowery" chairs in our living room, or on our deck when the weather is nice. Here, Daisy is visiting with me as I read my Bible.
Where is a quiet spot you can use for your time with God each day?
Approaches to Reading Your Bible
There are several ways you can begin the habit of reading your Bible.
First, make sure you have a good translation. I use a Ryrie Study Bible (American Standard translation). Neal gave it to me when he proposed 35+ years ago, which makes it extra special to me.
Next, decide your approach. Of course, you can vary this over time. The important thing is to do whatever is most meaningful to you and helps you grow in your faith. There are several options . . .
Using a Daily Devotional
You can select a daily devotion online or use a book with devotions. I have read several themed devotions on the Bible.com (which also has an app) by YouVersion; this website/app has MANY options from which to choose. Some last for a few days or a few weeks. Most include some scripture and a narrative elaborating on the scripture or applying it to life.
Bible.com also allows you to recruit friends to participate with you and share your reflections with each other.
Focusing on a Book in the Bible
This is the approach I prefer. I like selecting a book in the Bible and reading a few chapters a day. If you don't know where to start, I would suggest starting with the gospels or maybe Genesis. This is a helpful video from YouVersion on How to Read the Bible.
Prior to reading a book in the Bible, I watch a 7-8 minute video about this book using the Bible website or app. The video gives me the historical context and the overall meaning of this book. You can find these videos on the YouVersion Bible website or app here: Old Testament and New Testament. I have started taking notes when watching the videos so I can refer back to them as I read each chapter.
Another feature of Bible.com/app is that you can read any version of the Bible on your phone and it will also read the Bible to you. Sometimes, I use this feature when I am traveling.
Before I read the Bible each day, I say a quick prayer asking God to reveal what He wants me to glean from the chapters I am reading.
With a pencil (I previously used a highlighter but this sometimes soaked through the page), I underline key passages, put an asterisk by meaningful verses, and write notes in the column. I treat my Bible as my workbook.
Sometimes, I write down verses that speak to me on an index card or in my journal, which leads me to journaling . . .
I have multiple journals (but that is just me). You can do all of what I describe or whatever works for you in a single journal.
When I watch a video about a book (for example: Daniel) in the Bible, I have started taking notes in a notebook/journal. This helps me go back and reflect on what I learned while reading this specific book in the Bible.
I copy verses that speak to me. I can then refer to these when I need a reminder or just want to read meaningful verses.
Some days, I record what I am grateful for in my journal. My list typically starts off being grateful for family and friends but then may drift to Daisy our dog, Buddy the cat, fuzzy socks, hot tea, birds, good health, etc. Being grateful soothes my soul and reminds me how much God has blessed me.
I also journal my prayers, not every day, but some days. My mind wanders and this helps me to stay focused. Sometimes, I just write part of my prayer. Writing my prayers also helps me work through complex feelings or situations.
On occasion, I read back over my prayers and am reminded of how God was with me or how He answered my prayers.
I also write out my prayer list (family, friends, situations, church, country, etc.) in my journal and reference my list when I pray. I update my list as needed.
This leads me to praying . . .
Jesus who is our ultimate model also spent time in prayer with His Father.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12
Sometimes, I play soft instrumental music - - nothing distracting, just soft and soothing.
As I previously mentioned, I often journal my prayers to keep my mind from wandering or just to fully express my thoughts.
I try to start with a mixture of thanking and praising God. Sometimes, I just say God's many names or things like, "God I praise You. You are Holy. You are my God. Thank you for loving me."
I talk to Jesus like He is a friend sitting beside me. (I also do this sometimes when I am driving by myself as if Jesus is sitting in the passenger seat beside me.)
If I am upset, stressed, or, angry, I will literally cry out to God. Sometimes, I have wept, laughed, or shouted. God knows our hearts and our emotions, so it is acceptable to be expressive.
I refer to my prayer list in my journal which mostly consists of praying for people or asking the Lord for guidance. I also ask Him to let me see the world through His eyes and to show me how He wants to use me.
On occasion, I lay on the floor on my back with my arms fully extended and my palms facing up and open. This sort of helps me be in a receiving mode. Sometimes, I sit at my desk, with my head down, and hands cupped in a receiving mode. I don't know that my posture matters to God, but it sometimes helps me get in the right mindset.
I typically end with the Lord's Prayer. I try to focus on every sentence of the prayer. This sort of recaps in my mind anything I have left out (thanking for food, forgiveness, etc.)
Throughout the Day
I typically do my devotion in the morning, so I try to reflect on a specific verse or what I read (story, parable, etc.) throughout the day.
I also try to pray without ceasing throughout the day. In other words, I might be praying while folding laundry, driving, etc. I am not as consistent as I need to be in doing this but when I do, I feel more in sync with God.
Still growing spiritually . . .
I hope this has been helpful. This is what works for me. I don't do all of these things every day.
I also still skip days and fall short. Even so, I know God loves me, knows that I am human, and forgives me for my shortcomings. God knows you and loves you too.
I know that when I do spend time with God, He nourishes my soul and shows me the way He wants me to go.
If you are struggling with how to develop this habit or any habit, click HERE to learn more.
To read JOY: Love Jesus, Love Others and Love Yourself . . . and Some of My Favorite Books, click HERE.
To read Gratitude, Loss, Prayer . . . and the Holy Spirit, click HERE.
How do you spend time with God and grow in your faith? Please share below so together we can support each other as followers of Christ.