A few weeks ago, I got a text from a friend out of the blue. She shared that was in a similar place as I was: wanting to know God more and dig deeper but not knowing where to start. She had read my first post and wanted to make the same leap I did into the Bible. (That text made me feel incredibly humbled and invigorated at the same time and made this blog thing worth it already!)
I think a lot of Christians — at least Christian women — are in the same boat. We go to church, go to Bible studies and small groups, and hang out with our Christian friends but rarely pick up a Bible in our few moments of quiet. This world is so busy, and it’s hard to choose the Bible — an incredibly complex and challenging book — over the other zillion things calling our names.
But you can do it. I did, and I’m still doing it.
As I’ve made my way down this path of studying God’s word for the first time, I’ve found a couple of things that help me keep at it.
1. Pray before you start.
I’m really bad at praying. Most of the time I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall. But the more I study, the more I find that praying before I start is so important to clear my mind and center myself around God.
Usually I just pray in my head, but sometimes I find it helpful to write down my prayer in my notes.
And be honest with your prayers. One day when I was feeling frustrated by some particularly dense section of the Old Testament, I just wrote, “God, make this make sense, please. Amen.” He wants to know what’s on your mind — and he’ll understand exactly what you mean even if you don’t have the energy to come up with long, eloquent prayers. Just ask him to reveal the wisdom he wants you to know and give you the strength and clarity to apply it in your life. He’ll handle the rest.
2. Find a quiet place.
You can’t really sink your teeth into anything if you’ve got the TV on, kids running around screaming, or your phone blowing up with notifications.
I usually do my reading in my guest room. It’s in a quiet part of the house where I can’t hear the TV if my husband has it on or the neighbors’ kids playing in the back yard. It’s bright and neat and clutter-free and comfortingly silent.
I settle into my wingback seagrass chair (one of my favorite pieces of furniture, which I took off a friend’s hands for a ridiculously low price) with a notebook and colorful pens and my pups curled up at my feet. I keep a glass of water or tea nearby so I don’t have to get up if I get thirsty. Sometimes I light a candle. I leave my phone in another room.
The goal before you sit down should be to minimize as many distractions as possible.
3. Take notes.
I underline verses that stick out to me and write down any important thoughts or questions that come to mind in a spiral notebook. Taking notes not only helps you remember what you write, it also helps you process what you’re studying more thoroughly — good news all around. Bonus: You can always flip back through your notes when you need inspiration or encouragement or need to find a particular passage you remember.
I rotate between brightly colored pens so my Bible and my notes are full of life and color and make me smile when I open them.
4. Don’t pressure yourself. (This is the most important part.)
Before I got off my lazy butt and started reading the Bible, I spent a lot of time agonizing over what order to read it in. None of the plans I reviewed seemed just right. I was never sure how many chapters I could comfortably read per day. So I just wouldn’t read at all.
I rarely say this, because I’m very much a planner: Don’t have a plan. Or at least not one that you can’t modify as you go.
I don’t hold myself to a certain number of pages or chapters per day. I read however much I’m comfortable reading. It’s strangely liberating and, I find, more conducive to growth to not be restricted by a to-do list.
In the day-to-day, my most important advice is that if you’re not feeling it, it’s fine to set the Bible down and come back later. If you are feeling it, go ahead and power through a whole book (or two)! If you miss a day here and there, it’s not the end of the world. In my view, God would rather you dig deep into a few verses and see him than read the whole Bible begrudgingly because you feel like you have to do it a certain way.
Just remember that the point is not to check off a certain number of chapters or pages — the point is to get to know God and his story and breathe in his word. So settle into a comfortable pace and enjoy the ride.
I hope that helps! If there are more of you out there who want to start this journey but haven’t quite gotten yourself there yet, let me be the first to invite you to just jump in!
If you need advice or encouragement, hit me up. It’s my hope that this blog will spur others to open their Bible and join me on this crazy journey to getting to know God.