how to study the Bible for yourself: my quiet time routine

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Since I have started my blog, the single most asked question I get through Instagram or email is “how do you study the Bible?” So here it is. It’s nothing fancy or extravagant. I’ll share with you some of the tools I use and others I find helpful.

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First-let’s get real. Life gets busy and sometimes quiet time can tend to slide to the back burner. I have found, however, that when I schedule my day around my time with The Lord, no matter how busy I may be, instead of scheduling my time with the Lord around my day, I find myself refreshed, renewed, and strengthened. Let’s also be real about what it all looks like. My quiet time isn’t typically perfectly pictured with coffee and a journal and the lighting looking just right. No, most mornings I’m in my closet with verses taped on the walls studying in there with absolutely nothing to distract me because I’m like a little kid-if I don’t eliminate every distraction I don’t get anywhere. Pretty Instagram and blog pictures are great and all but the real stuff looks a little different.

All I can accomplish in one day doesn’t compare to time spent with my King, because it’s in that time that I find the strength to live each day. He’s the one who has given every breath, and I have found that giving back the first part of my day draws me closer to Him and sets my heart straight. Your mind might be more focused at night, or in the middle of the day, find the time where you can give The Lord as much of your attention and focus and energy as possible-bring Him the best part of your day. It’s not a chore-it’s an incredible privilege. When you start to see it as the best part of your day, His Word comes alive in new ways.

This world isn’t easy on you and it isn’t easy to get through a single day without being distracted about 500 times. So fix it in your mind that no matter how small the amount of time may be, spend it with Him. It may be five minutes, or fifty, but it all matters. Don’t let your enemy convince you that because you can’t sit down and spend an hour in the Word, you shouldn’t spend ten minutes. Quality matters over quantity. There isn’t a time of day that’s “right.” There isn’t an exact plan that is universal and should always be followed. But there is room for grace, and God sees our small little attempts to get to know Him and blesses them. Come running to Him every. single. day. Even if it’s a childlike crawling to His feet for a few minutes-don’t let one day pass that you don’t come to Him to find the sustaining power you need.

So join me today as I walk you through what my mornings look like. Yours may be entirely different-and that’s ok-we’re pressing on to know the same King, but our journeys will look different.

The first thing I do when I open the Word to study is pray. Typically my Bible study in the morning involves praying through the Word. I’ve found for me that I need to audibly “preach” to myself in the mornings–that’s why I spend them in my closet. It has to be just me and the Lord so I can talk to Him out loud. You might find you write your prayers better, or that the quiet front porch where you can just be silent is the spot for you. Find that spot. Find what works–and then pursue Him like crazy.

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I learned a little acronym from one of John Piper’s book, “IOUS,” that has stuck with me and I usually find myself praying through it as I begin to open the Word.

I-Incline my heart to long for you, Lord. Give me a desire to know you more and to make your name known.

O-Open. Lord God open my eyes to behold your Word! Open my eyes to see new things and to learn new truths.

U-Unite. Unite my heart to fear your name. Join my mind to my body so that I would live out the Word that I study today.

S-Satisfy. Oh Lord satisfy my heart in you alone! Not in anything this world has to offer, but in your truth and by your Holy Spirit, through your Word today.

Then I read through a passage and typically go verse by verse. Lately I’ve been studying Hosea using a study by Kristin Schmucker. What I love about this study is that it offers some commentary while also allowing you to soak up the Word and study it for yourself. In a passage I’m going through, I’ll typically pick a few verses that stand out to me and write them in my “Be Still” journal-another great tool from Kristin Schmucker. I’ll go through those few verses and paraphrase what the author is saying and how the Holy Spirit is speaking through them.

Next I’ll look up cross references for these passages. Often times this leads me to many other verses that are related. If you don’t have a study Bible a concordance is also great for this. Ask yourself questions about the setting of the passage. Look for and pick out similarities between the people in the story and yourself. Identify with them. Don’t rush through it. Soak it in. Put yourself in their shoes and walk through the journey with them. Then ask the Lord how he would have you apply this to your life.

Don’t end your time with Him without learning one thing you can carry with you through the day.

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It’s not fancy. It’s just a verse-by-verse walk through, writing down things that stick out to me and truths I want to press into my heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide and rely on Him. I truly believe He meets our weakness in an incredibly unique way when we open the Word.

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I usually finish out my time with The Lord in prayer. Sometimes I’ll also pick a Bible verse from my study to memorize using this cool memory trick. One of the greatest resources I’ve found for constructing a powerful prayer strategy is the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. If you haven’t read it-you should! {Also read this if you’re looking for some book suggestions}

love & grace,

M

coming down from the mountain

she looked out across the empty plain and knew immediately the reflection in her own soul–

everything felt empty.IMG_9222IMG_9267she could rest in the beauty, yes. she could see the branching oak trees and small delicate flowers. she could see the leaves changing in sync with the turning of the season. but she couldn’t see the point.

she knew the point for sure. she knew what every church-kid should know–it’s for His glory.

but why couldn’t she feel it? why couldn’t she know the fullness of the beauty-giver and sing and rejoice shout and dance?

that’s me.

it’s not that I don’t go through seasons of rejoicing and knowing the grace of my Savior. it’s that I forget his grace so quickly. it’s this: I’m on a spiritual mountain. I come down. and somehow I stop nourishing my faith.

oswald chambers must be reading my mind right now–or maybe it’s HIM working to get my attention

It is because of our trusting in experience that we see the steadfast impatience of the Holy Spirit against unbelief. All of our fears are sinful, and we create our own fears by refusing to nourish ourselves in our faith. How can anyone who is identified with Jesus christ suffer from doubt or fear! Our lives should be an absolute hymn of praise resulting from perfect, irrepressible, triumphant belief.

yeah, that first part sounds an awful lot like me.

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this question is the heartbeat of the world. it’s the shadow of the trees. the beams of the sun. it’s the question of the philosopher and of the layman.

why am I here?

and as His daughter I’m learning more and more–that unless my faith is planted firmly and steadfastly in His sovereign work, I am left with nothing.

because without Christ there is no purpose. and if I stop nourishing my faith. If I stop believing every second of every moment of every day that His work is enough–I’m actually left right where the rest of the world is. emptiness.

oh, but if I nourish my faith. If I spend more than my leftovers. If I give my Savior the best of my time, the best of my resources. If I begin by obedience–I will begin to know His joy more fully, His plan more fully, and His purpose in me more fully. if I give all my time to His presence-to living continually before the face of God-then I will begin to know His fullness.

because when you boil all the philosophical questions down in the world to one, you get this: Will you surrender your soul to King Christ for ultimate fullness, or will you give your soul to the world for utter emptiness?

IMG_9225IMG_9151because knowing His fullness isn’t about working harder–

it’s about learning to rest.

You say, “child, come here.” You whisper, “daughter, come sit at my feet.” and so I come. weary and weak and discouraged and faint-hearted I come. I come because where else will I go? there is only one Well Beloved who whispers the food that I need to live–the words of eternal life. He makes the weak thump of my heart into a steady beat of grace. I am nothing in myself-but I have everything in Him. You, Jesus, are my only steadfast and true preserving power in this life. I have found where I belong. What I was made for. I have uncovered why I was made-you have shown me. I was made to thrive in the presence of The Lord of Hosts. and nothing really satisfies but to chase that presence. Oh You’re awakening me, Jesus. so slowly, but surely.

love,

mm