For most of my life I never had regular Bible study time. I would embarrassingly confess to my close friends, “Yeah…I’m just so busy right now with V…” and there would be a silent nod, or a well-meaning, “I’m right there with you!”
I think the root of this problem was my own selfishness when it came to the way I approached Bible reading. I would often open my Bible to either James (my favorite book) or Luke (which I always thought was a little boring, but very accurate)…never the Old Testament (I loved the Sunday School stories but could never quite grasp a lot of the concepts) and I would hope that something would give me goosebumps.
The hight of Bible reading for me would be something that spoke the love of God to me and made me feel really warm and fuzzy.
It was honestly a revelation for me to realize that the Bible’s purpose is not to make me feel good about myself.
The Bible isn’t a book about me. The goal of those God inspired authors those thousand years ago was not to make a twenty-first century mom feel good-unbelieveable, right? The Bible is about God. Parts of His character are revealed in those sacred pages. From the very beginning of the story we begin to see a picture of our God-loving creator, good Father, and completely Holy. Right from the start we humans are not holy…we chose what looked good for what was actually Good, and from that moment on we needed a savior. The truly incredible thing is that God provided that Savior. The Bible is also a story about that-our redemption.
I started getting a “routine” for Bible reading after listening to the Hello Mornings podcast. One thing that was really encouraging to me was that it didn’t have to be this huge, hours-long process.
My study time really could be just a few minutes, or whatever time I did manage to get. I wake up with my kids. I just can’t get up before them right now. I wish I could, but I still breast feed E at least twice a night, and I’m one of those people who needs sleep so I struggle through the first year of life with a new baby. After I stumble out of bed and get V something to eat, I grab my coffee and immediately start my Bible study. I do it before I read any other books, before I listen to a podcast, before I check my list of stuff I need to get done. Right now I’m doing Jen Wilkin’s Joshua study. Yes, you read that right-a study in the Old Testament!
It takes me about 10 minutes each morning and it has made such a difference in how I feel about the Bible. I can tell you that I now feel genuinely excited about the things I am learning. I don’t feel overwhelmed by how much I don’t know (which is…still, basically everything.) I just feel pumped for what I’m going to discover next. I no longer approach my Bible study hoping to get some emotional support, but I do get that often! I have found that when I go to the Bible planning to study with my mind, to learn more about God and His great plan, I often come away learning something with my heart as well.
Usually my Bible study time is only 10 to 15 minutes, but the big thing for me is consistency. I am not in a stage in my life where it is possible to spend hours a day in Bible study (even though that would be awesome!) However, since the beginning of May I’ve been able to read and study the book of Hebrews and now I’m working my way through Joshua. I don’t feel like I’ve just skimmed a few important verses either, I feel like I really know the book of Hebrews now.
SO. Here are my main tips for establishing regular Bible study patterns:
- Do it as soon as it is possible in the morning. For me, this sometimes means 11am.
- Pick a chapter or book of the Bible and study it in-depth. I think I read the entire book of Hebrews three or four times.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. 10 minutes studying the Bible is better than 0 minutes.
- Be consistent. I do my Bible study every day except Sunday (because I go to church and then I try to process what I’ve learned there.)
- Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes your children will be burning up with fever and need to be held all day. Sometimes you will have the world’s worst headache from years of sleep deprivation. My friend, it is ok. Lay on the couch and cry and pick back up where you were tomorrow.
- Remember why you’re doing this. When you start to hear that little voice that says, “I’m not getting anything out of this,” remember that the Bible isn’t a book about you. Anything you learn about yourself from the Bible is an extra bonus to what you are able to learn about our God. Remembering this has completely changed my Bible study because now I approach it more like a scholar.
- Pray. If you feel your mind wandering, if you feel yourself more interested in what’s going on with your social media, if your kids won’t leave you alone for 2 seconds. Pray that God would provide a way, that he would speak to your heart and your mind. Pray that whatever you are meant to take away from the weird passage you are struggling with that God would show it to you. The Bible is an amazing thing…it is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), meant for you just as it was meant for the original hearers.
- Get some accountability. Right now for me this looks like my husband saying, “Did you get your Bible study done today?” Which I will either say yes to, or ask him to watch the kids for me while I do it. If you don’t have a husband who can help you with this, recruit a close friend to text you. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just an extra little nudge.
I feel so lucky when I think about how readily available the Bible is to me. I can literally pull it up at anytime with my phone. I just finished reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom and she, by a miracle, manages to sneak in a Bible into the concentration camp. She reads it out loud at night to the women in her barracks. I want to love the Bible like that. I want to love God like that.
I hope this encourages you, friend. Wherever you are, whatever stage of life, the Bible is a book for you.