Spending Time With God
Do you long for more peace in your life? Do you want to feel more of God’s presence? Do you want to hear from the Lord? If so, there are three important things we should do on a regular basis to achieve these things. We need to spend time with God by reading our Bibles, praying, and listening.
Reading the Bible
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” – Matthew 4:4
For many years I didn’t make reading my Bible a priority. I thought that reading Christian non-fiction books and listening to sermons was good enough. But I was wrong and everything in my life was proof. I made bad choices and I didn’t have any true peace. Finally about a decade ago I tried to make reading my Bible a priority. But I didn’t give it my all. I would hurry through a chapter and not necessarily retain what I read. I knew that I was still missing out on so much.
I had a longing to know God better. I had a thirst for Him. I knew there was so much more to my walk that I was missing. And I knew that digging deeper in His Word would be a big key to seeing changes in my life.
At one point, I felt God prompt me to start my day off right. This would mean getting up earlier to spend some time with Him before I did anything else. I didn’t really want to get up earlier. I already got up very early as it was for work. At this particular time, I had been tired a lot and I had even been looking for ways to get extra sleep. But the funny thing was, when I tried to sleep in later, I would still wake up early. I knew this was God, gently pushing me.
So, I finally turned back the time on my alarm. I spent time first thing in the morning focused on my Bible, trying to eliminate other distractions. Let me just tell you that I actually felt more refreshed, not tired! Amazing! And since my brain was fresh, I soaked in so much more of what He was trying to teach me. It is so important that we start our day off with the Lord. Give Him the first fruit of the day and you will be rewarded!
Bible Reading Tips
Here are some tips that I have learned along the way that have helped me with my Bible reading:
- My goal is still to read one chapter a day. Some people like to read the whole Bible in a year. And that’s great if that’s you. But make sure you’re actually absorbing what you read. Don’t do it just to feel like you accomplished something. I am a type A personality, so I am the type of person that wants to check something off my to-do list. But reading the Bible shouldn’t be seen that way. It should be seen as a peaceful time that you are spending with God.
- Sometimes when we read our Bibles, our minds start to wander. I honestly think this is one of the enemy’s tricks. I used to ask myself to summarize what I read. If I couldn’t summarize it, then I would go back and re-read it. Now that I have been reading my Bible on a regular basis for a while, I don’t have as much of a problem in this area. So, if a distracted mind is something you struggle with, just keep pushing forward. I believe in time you can overcome this as well.
- Many people say that the Bible is hard to understand. I honestly believe this is another one of the enemy’s tricks. But it is also helpful to find a translation that you like. NIV (New International Version) is very popular, and it is pretty straight-forward. I also like NLT (New Living Translation). It is really easy to understand. Another good one is the Amplified Bible. This one adds extra words in brackets so that you get a deeper understanding of each word, kind of like a tag-along thesaurus. If you have a book store near you, then take some time to browse through different Bible’s to see what version you like best.
- On that same note, also look to see if the Bible has any extra features that might appeal to you. There are so many different study Bibles, devotional Bibles, journaling Bibles, and even coloring Bibles out there. Some of the options also offer teachings from well-known pastors (Charles Stanley, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyers, etc.). And you can also find ones that are geared towards certain people (men, women, teens, etc.). These types of Bibles usually have a devotional thought to go with a particular verse. This helps make particular verses more relevant for the things that we go through today.
- If you never read the Bible before, then you might start in the New Testament. The book of John is one of my favorites. This book tells of Jesus’s life and has a certain comforting feel to it. I have gone through seasons of reading John over and over. But I do think it’s best to read the entire Bible eventually. In the beginning, I was hesitant to read the Old Testament. But once I finally did, it revealed so much to me. It ties all the pieces together when you read the entire Bible. I remember felling stunned and thinking to myself that this is why the world needed Jesus. I saw how humanity kept messing things up over and over. Yet, in the end, God loved His children so much and wanted to save them.
- Another thing to keep in mind, is that the traditional Bible is not in chronological order. Generally, it is. The things in the Old Testament did happen before the things in the New Testament. But some of the text within each of those might be out of order. So, they do also have some Chronological Bibles out there as well. If you have never read the Bible before, I recommend starting with a traditional Bible. Then trying the Chronological version later on.
- A Bible concordance is like a dictionary. It helps define different words in the Bible. Many Bibles have one included in the back. And you can also buy some separately.
- Having a Commentary can be helpful as well. A commentary adds extra insight on each verse. This is often found in a separate book. I like Matthew Henry’s because my mother-in-law gifted it to me! But there are a lot of other great ones out there.
- If spending that extra money is an issue, there are some handy websites, such as Bible Hub, which have links to various commentaries on the verse that you want to look up.
- Sometimes it can be fun and helpful to do a Bible Study. If you go to Amazon you can find a bunch of them. Denise Hughes Word Writers is a popular way to go. Beth Moore also has many available. Or you can go to the She Reads Truth / He Reads Truth website. They always have a study going. And this is something you can do with other people, if you prefer. This will be more time consuming, but the material is always worth digging into.
- Find what works for you. But it shouldn’t be overwhelming! That is important!
- And one final note – say a prayer before you read each day. It can be very simple, such as, “Lord, please open my eyes to a deeper understanding as I read your Word.”
Pray without ceasing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Have you ever thought about what a privilege it is for us to be able to speak to the King of Kings anytime we want to? And He is always there. He will never tell us He is busy. He will never ignore us. He will never say to come back another time. His door is always open. He is just waiting for us to come to Him.
In our prayers we tend to ask for things, which is fine. But I believe we should also thank God for things, and we should praise Him for how awesome He is. Some people like keeping a prayer journal. This helps them to keep their prayers focused. It also helps them to look back and see all the prayers that God has answered.
In that same light, you could also keep a gratitude journal, in which you thank God for all the good things in your life. This is something I do. And I even wrote a whole book about it! (Every Day is a Gift)
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. – John 10:27
This one might be the hardest of all for many of us. When we pray, we tend to rattle off all of our requests. But do we ever stop and listen to what God might have to say to us? And in today’s world with so many things coming at us (emails, texts, calls, alerts, social media, instant messaging, television, radio), it can be very difficult to quiet our minds. So, quieting my mind and listening to God has been my focus for the last couple of months. And as a result, it has helped me feel more peaceful and joyful. And I am amazed at how much more I hear from God, when I actually try to hear from Him. Try to carve out a place and time in your day that works for you. Try to eliminate distractions. And ask God if there is anything He would like to tell you. You can read more on this topic HERE.
I hope you have found some of these tips to be helpful. If you have any special tips or practices that you would like to share, please leave a comment!