I wish I could say that I've always made it a point to have my quiet time with The Lord, but the reality is that I've had sleepless nights and a child with special needs and homeschooling . . . and excuses.
I've had time for podcasts and social media; I’ve had time for research and reading; but somehow, I managed to convince myself that drive-by prayers and nighttime Christian books were enough.
And I was struggling.
Some of the Christian books I read painted a much-different picture of God than the one in the Bible. Some left me feeling “good” about myself, and yet, still very empty. There were so many times that I literally felt like "a wave tossed at sea."
I prayed for discernment. I prayed to better understand God’s will. But I never did the one thing I knew I should do. . . I never read my Bible all the way through.
I hate admitting to that.
On my social media accounts, I’ve sought to encourage others to read God’s Word, and the truth is, I love reading my Bible. Up until this past January, I did my best to read it at least 3 days a week.
But for me, that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to keep me grounded. It wasn’t enough to keep me focused on what was most important, day-in and day-out. And it wasn’t enough to give me clear discernment in an ever-changing and shifting world—especially with so many New Age ideologies infiltrating the church.
My soul longed for so much more. It longed for truth and understanding . . . for spiritual “meat.” I wanted more than anything to fully understand God’s will and story. And I wanted to know how to apply it in my everyday world.
This year, I decided to commit to reading through the Bible in its entirety. I am on day 75 of my plan, and I can honestly say that it has been the absolute BEST thing for me. It has been so very eye-opening and fruitful and has helped me stay anchored in the midst of the chaos in our world.
Reading my Bible has helped me better relate to my children and husband, parents, siblings, and friends. It has helped me hold fast and turn to prayer when things have gotten tough. But most importantly, it has helped me to know Him better.
Friend, I cannot tell you how important it is to be in God's Word each day. There is such a spiritual war going on all around us, and we must stay anchored in what is most important. We must keep our eyes on Him in order to equip our children, bless our husbands, and laugh at the time to come.
Whether you have 5 minutes or 30, time to meditate on a single scripture or read through an entire book, I want to encourage you to make time for it. Listen to it if that's a better option. Whatever you can do, it is so very worth it.
These are some tools that have helped me in my walk. I would love for you to share some of your favorites in the comments below as well.
I want to encourage you to find a Bible that is closest in translation to the original manuscripts. Some will argue that this is the King James Version, and others will advocate for the English Standard Version. You can research more on this if you choose, or simply get started with what you have on hand. As you move forward, consider what helps you better understand the text and meaning.
Also consider the font size, paper, and whether or not you want to be able to record notes in your Bible. Some Bibles offer margins or full pages for journaling, while others include commentary and encouragement in specific areas.
I personally LOVE my King James Version Bible but also decided to purchase this ESV Readers’ Bible: Six Volume Set for this year's reading. I was sold on its simplicity and beauty. The Bible is recorded on thicker paper with larger font and reads like a novel. There are no chapter headings or verse numbers, no commentaries or footnotes. . . just The Word of God. (Chapter numbers and page numbers are provided in the index.)
Although it's a bit more of a challenge to coordinate with my Bible reading plan, I'm finding it very helpful for my Old Testament readings. I also like that it is not distracting with additional commentary or footnotes. It's clean and easy to follow, and I simply use it alongside my KJV Bible. Both have been the perfect way for me to dive in deeper in my understanding of it all.
A BIBLE READING PLAN
A recent study found that the most important factor in spiritual growth is Bible engagement at least 4 days a week. If you would like to commit to reading through the Bible in 18 months, JourneyEveryday.com is a great option to look into. It provides helpful videos, worship music, audio links, and journaling pages and is easy to jump into at any point.
The Bible App-You Version also has a number from which to choose, some in a year and some on more topical studies. I have been following one of their “The Bible in a Year” plans, and it has been so very good for me. The plan focuses on a Psalm or Proverb each day, along with a New Testament and Old Testament reading.
Up until this point, I would always get “stuck” in the Old Testament when trying to read all the way through. This plan has helped me balance the readings and make deeper connections across the entire Bible. For example, when I was reading about the Jewish Passover in the Old Testament, I was also reading the book of Matthew where Jesus was crucified as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. It was so very powerful, and I am in constant awe of how His story is interwoven across the books, from the beginning to the end.
For those just beginning, consider starting with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. These share the story of Jesus' life, along with His sacrifice and love. They invite us to know Him better and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Proverbs and the book of James are also good choices for learning how to live in Godly wisdom. Wherever you choose to start, seek Him first, and He will make your path straight.
When it comes to prayer, I have to admit, my mind is prone to wander. I tend to get distracted often, and I sometimes find it difficult to focus. I have found it so helpful to write out my prayers in my faith journal. It is also such a special keepsake as I go back to see God's hand in our lives.
I also use my journal to copy some of my favorite scriptures from the day’s reading, and then pray through those Scriptures. Sometimes, I also take it a step further to elaborate on the scriptures and take note about what they reveal about God and His attributes. I also like to write about how to apply His Word in my life. The journal is used in a number of ways and sometimes more on some days than others, but overall, it helps me stay focused and reflect more on my reading.
The final most important thing I have had to do is make time to read my Bible. Right now, I have found that the best time to do this is in the mornings and evenings. This is something I probably could not have done when the children were younger, but it now works for this season in my life. I do my best to wake up before the children and although I have never been a morning person, and I mean never, these past few months have made such a profound impact on my walk that it is now something I very much look forward to.
My husband sets up the coffee maker the night before so that I have a warm cup waiting for me. I simply get up, get dressed, then head over to our school table for my quiet time. I read what I can in the time I have, whether that's 5 minutes or 30, and then finish off my readings each evening. It’s been the perfect way for me to start and end each day, and it truly has been life-changing for me.
No, the sleepless nights have not fully ended, and I still have to work through the challenges that come with special needs and homeschooling, and house cleaning, and meal planning, etc.
Nothing on the outside has really changed.