I wrote this post two years ago, but the New Year seems like the perfect time to share it again. I know that there are lots of methods for studying Scripture, but this is what has worked for me!
The question that I get asked most often is how I spend time in Scripture. Though I had grown up in a Christian home, gone to a Christian college, and even gone to Seminary, I had a hard time consistently reading Scripture each day for a long time. When I became a Mama I realized just how much I needed to be in God’s Word if I wanted to be an example to my children. So I made a commitment that Scripture was going to be a huge part of my life.
Several years ago a friend recommended that I listen to this talk about studying Scripture by Matt Chandler. This message along with a bit of tweaking has helped me to find a method of studying God’s Word that makes it stick for me.
I don’t usually use any type of devotional guide, but instead I read through books of the Bible. It is so amazing how much more we understand about Scripture when we read entire books instead of just jumping around to isolated verses. I sometimes will alternate reading a New Testament book and then an Old Testament book, but you can choose a book however you want. I found that I really struggled finding Bible Studies or devotionals that I loved and I sometimes felt like I was not allowing God’s Word to speak to me, but instead relying on the person who had wrote the devotional to show me what I was suppose to learn.
The basic system I use is the SOAP method. All you need is your Bible, a pen, and a journal.
S – Scripture. First I read the passage. Sometimes a few verses, other times a whole chapter. I try not to focus on reading a lot of Scripture in one day just to check it off a list, but instead “eat until I am full”. I then write out in my journal the verse or two that stuck out to me most when I read the passage.
O – Observation. Then I take a moment to think on what I read. I write down how the context plays into what I read, who the verses are speaking too, when it is happening, etc.
A – Application. Next, I meditate on what I have read and how it applies to my life. I try to be specific about how I can apply what I am reading to my life. I write a paragraph or two about what I have learned and how it applies to my life. How does this Scripture change me?
P – Prayer. The last step is prayer. If you are anything like me your mind wanders. In a way to combat the million thoughts that are swirling in my head, I write out my prayer, or at least a shortened version of it at the bottom of my page.
That is my basic process. It has been so helpful to me and I hope that it will be to you as well. It has definitely helped me move away from reading Scripture and just going through the motions and not even being able to remember what I read because there are so many things to think about. If you have been looking for a better way to do things, I hope that this will be helpful. It is simple, and it doesn’t take long, but it is so important. I want to focus less on the silly little things that waste our time (Facebook anyone???), and more on making what matters happen. This is definitely one of those things.
Scripture is life changing. I have walked through many wonderful things, and also some suffering, and being in God’s Word has made all of the difference.
What is #lampandlight?
At the beginning of 2013 when I made a commitment to get really serious about being in God’s Word I decided that I needed a way to hold myself accountable. So I started the hashtag #lampandlight on instagram. I post a picture each morning of my time in Scripture or what God is teaching me and use the hashtag it helps keep me accountable and lots of other women have joined in. It is simply a hashtag to use to seek to be more intentional to spend time in God’s Word. It isn’t a specific Bible study, but just a way to keep yourself accountable and to encourage others. The name comes from Psalm 119:105 “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” I started it because I think we all need to remember that we aren’t in this alone. I would love if you would join.
How do you find “quiet time”?
How do you find time? I get asked this question a lot from moms when it comes to spending time in Scripture because life can be a bit hectic and alone time is definitely at a minimum when you have little ones. I wish that I had a magic potion to guarantee that I get an hour to myself each day, but it isn’t realistic. So instead of a formula, I will tell you what I do and maybe give a few ideas.
For me the best time is in the morning, my little girl likes to sleep in most days which means that I have a bit of time to myself to read and journal. Sometimes she is awake and will sit quietly and read her books along with me or will eat breakfast while I finish. I want her to see me in Scripture, because my action of being in God’s Word shows her that it important to me, more than any words I could say to her. If your kids are early risers, but go to bed early as well, the evening might work better for you. Sometimes naptime or a lunch break is a time to squeeze in a few minutes. On those crazy days when there just doesn’t seem to be any extra time, you may have to break it into a few small segments throughout the day. This may mean having an open Bible in several places around the house or in the car, or a Bible app on your phone, I love the You Version app.
Remember your season in life, and be flexible, throughout the years your time may change. A mom with an infant may find time while she is nursing a newborn, a college student might find that a free class period works best and that may change each semester. If you are working outside the home, a lunch break might be the perfect time to get some alone time. Though I do think that it is very helpful to have a set time each day, it is also important to give ourselves grace when things slip through the cracks, and at 10 at night we realize that our morning devotional time never happened. We all have seasons in our lives where we struggle. For me, the first trimester of pregnancy is hard, I struggled to stay awake, much less accomplish anything. Find what works, in those times I simply had to wait for a time in the day that I had more energy. We make time for what is important to us, it may take some trial and error to see what works best, but keep at it until you find what works for you.
Ultimately, this isn’t about punching a clock, but becoming more like Christ, which means that we must learn grace for ourselves and others just as He has shown us grace. Through every season of life 2 Corinthians 12:9 has been such an encouragement to me and a reminder to seek His strength and not my own.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9