Enough already. Let’s get to it!
Plan to set aside 15-20 minutes in a place where you can have some peace and quiet.* I’m a fan of early morning because it sets the tone for the day. I like getting in some Good News before being hit with the bad news. I have found that once I turn on the TV or open up the newspaper or look at the news feed on my phone, I have entered the world. My spirit needs some bolstering up before entering that war zone.
My Best Tip for Staying Consistent
This is going to sound deceptively simple, but it is surprisingly effective.
Before going to bed at night, go to your chair or desk or wherever you plan to study, and set out your Bible, notebook, pencil and glasses. Open up your Bible to the passage you plan to read in the morning. That’s it.
There is something about the open book that produces expectancy. When tempted to skip a day and snuggle down into my warm bed for some extra sleep, the image of that book waiting for me is motivating. God is waiting. To speak to me. Treasures abound. I must go.
3 Step Method: Read, Receive, Respond
Let’s walk through an example together. Let’s say Luke 8:22-25 is your passage for the day. Some Bibles are nicely divided up into sections with headings, but you can take one verse at a time, one paragraph each day or one section per week — whatever pace you want. As you get situated, pray “Lord, open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word.” (Psalm 199:18)
1. Read the passage slowly and deliberately. Try to read it out loud or whisper it to yourself. Then, pick one verse to zero in on and copy it word for word into your open notebook. This helps you see every word and think about the meaning.
2. Receive, or take in the verse by doing 2 things: 1) make an observation, and 2) ask a question. Write them in your notebook. Start with one observation and one question. As you progress, you might make a list of observations and questions. The point is to engage with the words.
Here is Luke 8:22 — One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out.
- It must have been a pretty big boat to hold 13 men.
- They didn’t just take somebody else’s boat – it must have belonged to Peter or James, the fishermen.
- Jesus was the one calling the shots, in charge.
- The disciples obeyed without questioning.
- Jesus had a purpose for going but the disciples didn’t know the reason.
- One day – Jesus chose the day for this trip.
- Today Jesus wants me to get into His boat and let Him direct the course.
- Why did Jesus want to go to the other side of the lake?
- What was on the other side?
- Who did the rowing?
- Did the boat smell like fish guts?
- What did the men in the boat see, hear, smell?
- How far was it to the other side? How long did it take them to cross?
- Am I willing to get into the boat with Jesus, not knowing where He’ll take me?
The observations are meant to help us enter the scene and connect with the people in it. The questions are to help us dig into the passage. Don’t worry about the answers! Gradually move from the surface to deeper, underlying meanings.
3. Respond by turning your observations and questions into a prayer. You might consider using the acronym A.C.T.S. to give some form to your prayer. Example:
- A (Adoration) — I praise You, Lord, for knowing where this day is going. You know everything. I love that about You.
- C (Confession) — I admit there are times when I dig in my heels and don’t want to get in the boat. Forgive me for being resistant.
- T (Thanksgiving) — Thank You for inviting me to come with You into this day. I don’t know what’s coming, but I know You’re with me. Thank You.
- S (Supplication) — Help me to trust Your plan, Your purpose. Help me to jump in when You say, “Let’s go!”
There it is. Copy a verse, write an observation and a question, pray a 4-sentence prayer, and you have the beginning of a life-long habit of hearing God’s Word and letting it work its way into your heart and life.
Next Up: 3 Additional Steps to Deeper Study
*15-20 minutes of peace and quiet are attainable for some people, but not everyone. If you are a mom of a newborn, in a household with several “littles”, or transitioning in life, you are in a season when personal study time is challenging. Grace abounds for you! There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! Snatching a prayer time during a 2:00 a.m. feeding or singing a praise song in the shower may be all you can manage for now. Someday, bigger blocks of time will come your way. Stay faithful in the small things now!