Make a habit of regularly studying God’s Word, no matter how busy your schedule, and you will be on your way to enjoying the rhythm of life that God created us to enjoy. We flourish in this rhythm. Our God has spoken, and His works and words are worth the effort it takes to study. The Psalmist tells us they are studied by all who delight in them (Psalm 111:2).
Studying is one of the primary ways we set our minds on the things of the Spirit (See Romans 8:5-6); and this carries with it the promise of life and peace.
Study leads to awe, wonder, doxology, satisfaction, and deeper intimacy with your God. Study will transform your prayer life–for then you will be more likely to pray with the Spirit and the mind (Romans 14:15). Digging into God’s Word, learning from Him, is a means He uses to “transform [us] to a true knowledge” (Colossians 3:10), and He will bring your thoughts and affections in line with His.
For a moment, ponder God’s analogy from 1 Peter 1:23-2:2, wherein we are told to drink the pure milk of the word like a newborn baby. How often does a baby drink milk? And how much? Tiny portions, frequently, throughout the day and night.
That baby eventually matures, and starts eating solid foods. Meals and snacks. Often. No one ever outgrows the need for food. And so the analogy continues, as we grow we ought to be eating meal sized portions. As we dig in, will ever find our hunger satisfied when we come the LORD who is the Bread of Life. God is patient as we work up to full meals. Jesus taught His disciples to “take My yoke and learn from Me,” and this same call requires us to study with a humble yearning to learn from Jesus. (See Matthew 11:29)
You will make time for habits according to your desires. If you want to know Him more intimately, you will grow from reading (milk), to enjoy reading, meditating, and studying (a full meal, or feast). Erasmus taught hundreds of years ago that habits are like nails–as nails are driven out by nails, so bad habits are driven out by good habits.
Three ways you can make time for Bible Study include: snatching up snippets, redeeming random moments, and intentional scheduling.
You may go through a season where the time available will be snippets throughout your day that add up. This was true for me when I first had a newborn. I had been used to studying for 40 minutes every morning, and found myself unable to as I learned how to operate in a sleep deprived state. I listened to audio Bible, read a small portion here and there, journaled, and treasured a couple of nap-times a week for study. My days were unpredictable, so I let go of the schedule and snatched what time I could. You will find time, if you look for time.
Redeeming and Repurposing Moments
I have also made the practice of redeeming moments for the use of reading, studying, or otherwise engaging with Scripture. Did an appointment get cancelled? Open up your journal, see what you may have been wanting to study, and use this time resume that study. Did your spouse just take the kids out for an hour? Do enough chores for fifteen minutes (while brewing a cup of tea, or a french press coffee) to create an atmosphere of peace, then sit and study, read, journal. Did something change, suddenly opening up “free time?” Resist the urge to escape, or waste that time. Get back to studying what you have been wanting to learn more about. If you journal questions, or passages you want to re-read, then redeeming these moments will feel like picking up a conversation where you left off.
Pencil it In
While working full-time in an office, and now that I am a homeschooling mama with no little ones under four, I am able to easily and intentionally schedule times for Bible Study. To make this time more productive, it helps to have a plan. But if you have a free spirit like I do, it helps to remember that you can set the plan aside and study other things. Yet, having a plan frees up mental space, so that even a free spirit will greatly benefit.
I usually purchase a commentary to go along with a book I’m studying. Ligonier Ministries has lists on their website of recommended commentaries for each book of the Bible . Or, Matthew Henry’s commentary is available free online. As I study, and come upon verses that I need help understanding, I turn to a trusted resource–the International Standard BIble Encyclopedia, or a commentary, etc. Both of these sources will give information about history, culture, archeology, geography, language idiosyncrasies, etc; sometimes we need that information to shed light on a passage. Especially since we tend to Americanize all that we read.
Keep your journal nearby.
Copy down verses, write out questions, turn verses into prayers. I write down the “big idea” from a chapter. I make lists. Do you know how often Moses tells the Israelites to remember the Exodus as proof of God’s redeeming love? I discovered that while studying that book last summer.
I’ve made lists that I go back to later, when studying other books, or when re-reading that particular book of the Bible. When you write things down, your brain interacts with the information more intimately, you remember more, discover the connections to other Scriptures more easily, and gain a fuller appreciation of God’s redemptive plan.
As you intentionally set aside time for Bible Study, start small.
Work your way toward at least a half hour of study time. Puritans suggest reading and meditating daily, but studying weekly. This is a great starting point. Try for Sundays, your day of rest, a gift to you from God.
An evening out at a local coffee shop once a week is a perennial favorite of mine. The noise level is just right for helping the average person focus. I take my Bible, journal, and perhaps a commentary or other helpful book; and I stay until closing time.
Studying differs from reading–so be patient with yourself. Slowly give this habit more time, be attentive, take notes, and remain prayerful. “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18).
To encourage yourself in this habit in the new year, consider this resource, available on Amazon.