Have you ever said “I will pray for you about that” but never followed through?
Have you ever had someone tell you, “I will be praying for you”, but wonder of they really will?
It breaks my heart that this has become just a churchy saying.
I want it to be the truth in my life and in each one of our lives!
The body of Christ (the Church) is called to build each other up and called to do so through prayer.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. – James 5:16
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; – Ephesians 6:18
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; – 1 Timothy 2:1
There are many times that I have told someone I would pray for them with the right heart and every intention to follow through. But without taking action to remind myself to do so those good intentions never became reality.
Over this past year God has been convicting my heart and teaching me in this area.
Some practical ways that have helped me make this happen.
Stop and pray right away
It does not have to take a big chunk of the day. I don’t even have to stop and find a quiet place (though sometimes I do). Just take a few moments to bring that request to God.
Make a note
I have written requests on sticky notes that mark a page in a book I’m reading so when I open that book I see it. If I have the time to sit down and read then I have time to pray for that person.
I have a note page on my phone designated to prayer requests. This is a good one for when I’m out and about and don’t have paper with me.
Keep lists short and current.
If my list gets long, I don’t even start praying or my prayers become shallow.
Follow up with the person.
Follow up deepens a relationship so much! Then I add the request back onto my list with more knowledge on how to pray.
There is a man in our church who always asks us about requests that we have shared in the past. It is encouraging to know that he remembered and did pray for us.
Don’t be as quick to say “I’ll pray for you.”
I always want to say this but not being quick to commit helps me be more intentional. If I won’t pray right away or can’t write it down I try not to say those words; I know how forgetful I am. I want to be honest. Being slower with my words has made me more mindful and actually helped me pray more faithfully.
How encouraging it would be if we knew that we were being prayed for by everyone who told us they would!
How encouraging it would be to pray and see how God’s worked to answer those prayers.
When we fail to pray for one another not only are we missing out on an amazing opportunity to encourage those around us but we throw away a chance to talk to our Father and miss out on seeing how God answers those prayers.
There are many different ways to go about spending time in the Word: Some seasons of life we are able to spend an extended period of time digging into a passage, using word studies and commentaries. During other seasons, we may barely even be able to squeeze in five minutes before being interrupted by a fussy child or a diaper blowout.
I’d like to share a few approaches to being in the Word that have helped me to be intentional with the time I spend in the Word, whether it be for an hour or for just a few minutes.
I. Ask the questions “What do I learn about________ from this passage?”
Here are two questions to help guide your thoughts as you read the Word:
Question #1: What do I learn about God in this passage?
Because Scripture is God’s divine revelation of Himself to mankind, no matter what passage we read, there is something we can learn about God and His character. So before you even start reading, mentally ask yourself or write in your journal:
“What do I learn about God in this passage?”
(To keep it simple, I usually just write About God.)
Your answer to this question could be something that God declares to be true about Himself in the passage.
For example, in Psalms 118:29 it says “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”
This verse clearly states that He is good and “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Or it could be more like a conclusion.
Take, for instance, Ephesians 3:20-21 when it tells us, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
We can learn from these verses that His plan is infinitely greater and more incredible than anything we could ever imagine.
The beauty of this exercise is it’s simplicity: Look for just one thing.
There is no pressure to write out a summary paragraph or draft an outline of the entire passage you just read or do more research somewhere else. Rather, simply focus on the verses you are reading and seek to single out just one thing you learn about God, His character, His ways, or His plan.
And if you don’t find something the first time you read the passage, go back and read it again, and again, until you do learn something.
Because if God’s Word is for us, and His Word is about Himself, then His Word will reveal Him to us. Yes, He wants us to know Him!
What a marvelous and humbling thought!
Once you have singled out one observation—not two, not five—just one observation about what you learn about God, write it down.
Writing it down will help solidify that one point about God in your heart and mind.
Question #2: What do I learn about myself in this passage?
After asking what you learn about God in the passage, ask yourself,
“What do I learn about myself in this passage?”
(Or I just write About Me.)
In other words, what does the passage have to say about a believer? Or about man’s state before God? Is there a command He has given for me to obey? Is there a response I should have toward God? Is there a sin I need to repent of?
As with question #1, these observations can be simple and straightforward.
For example, if you were to study Philippians 2:1-10, when it says “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (verse 3), one answer to the question What do I learn about myself? could be “I am to count others as more significant than myself.”
Your observation could also be a form of a personal response to a statement about God, as in Psalm 69:13, where it says “But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.”
When I read this verse not too long ago, I jotted down the thought that “I need to remember that God answers in His timing and according to His character, not in my timing or according to my desires.”
The answer to this second guiding question often helps move beyond the observation and interpretation steps of Bible study to the application step of “How does this affect my life?”
Incorporating these two questions into my time in the Word has been immensely rewarding!
A comparatively more complicated, yet still quite straightforward approach to Bible study, I came across Phrasing a few years ago. It is helpful in breaking down a passage and digging into it without getting overwhelmed with all the details.
This approach is most beneficial when working with a short passage or even just a few verses. (However, if you are ambitious, you can always do this with a larger portion of Scripture as well!) Phrasing is also helpful if you’re trying to understand tricky wording in a particular verse.
You could call Phrasing a form of “diagramming for Bible Study” (but don’t let that scare you!)
When you phrase a verse, just subordinate (indent) each phrase underneath the word that it is referring to.
So for example, take 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14:
Can you see how breaking the verses down into phrases helps to clarify God’s purpose in calling us to salvation? In phrasing these verses, it becomes clear that “…to this he called you…so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Phrasing approach helps us think through how a sentence is structured (without the complicated technicalities of diagramming) and helps clarify what the verse is saying.
This is exactly what it sounds like: just read a particular passage over and over again. The more times you read it, the better!
To start, choose a large portion of verses, a few chapters, or even a short book of the Bible. Simply read the same chunk of Scripture every day for several weeks, a month, or longer!
To become familiar with the passage. So read and re-read and re-read the passage.
It is surprising how simply reading a Scripture passage over and over again helps you become more familiar with the passage, and in turn, have a better understanding of it!
I hope this quick overview of some more Bible study approaches, as well as Rachel’s post last week on three ways that have been helpful to her, has given you fresh motivation and encouragement to be focused and intentional with the time you spend in the Word this year, even if it is only for a few minutes at a time!
I look up from the page and realize that I’ve read verses and verses but have no comprehension of what it was I just read….
Feel frustrated at myself.
Why is it so hard to keep my mind from wandering to unrelated situations or things that I need to do later in the day?
Spending time in God’s Word is precious to me and I want to be able to have that time uninterrupted!
Here are some things that I found help me stay focused as I spend time in God’s Word!
WRITE OUT THE PASSAGE
Buy a lined notebook.
Crease each page in half.
Scribe the Scripture on the left hand side.
Use the right side to jot down notes and thoughts as you go!
This method, though tedious, really causes you to think about each word!
Sometimes I read too fast, or I think I know what the verse is going to say next and I miss things!
I have written out many books using this study method and notice so much more!
PRINT OUT THE PASSAGE
Using Online Bible, E-Sword, or another electronic Bible source: copy the passage you desire to study into a WordDoc, take out chapter and verse divisions, print it out.
Invest in a nice set of colored pencils.
Draw lines to matching themes.
Mark key words with special shapes.
Jot notes in the margins!
Study the passage and mark up those pages!
TIP: The King James Version is a great one to use for this kind of studying! Though this version uses older English and can be a bit hard to understand if you are not used to it; when translating the Hebrew and Greek words the KJV is the most (though not entirely) consistent in using the same English word each time that Greek or Hebrew word is used. Thus, it is a lot easier to see patterns in word usages as you study! I love to see patterns and themes throughout God’s Word!
WRITE IN YOUR BIBLE
I know some people do not like to write in their Bibles and that is totally understandable. However, I do not believe that it is dishonoring to do so. It is honoring to God when we study His Word!
Invest in a Bible that has wide margins or a journal Bible for the purpose of writing and marking it up! I have another Bible that I never write in. I use this one when I want to just read without my jottings distracting me. But I love my study Bible…it feels like home to me!
When you research something, write it in the margin. Later on down the road you may be in need of a quick go-to for a devotional…you have info and research right there with the passage!
It is also fun to look back and see what I have learned over the years!
TIP: The paper of most Bibles is thin and hard to write on without ink bleeding. I use Micron Pens! They do not bleed and you can get super fine tips that write legibly and tiny! You can get them HERE on Amazon or Michael’s Crafts, Hobby Lobby! You can get them in lots of colors too!!
I hope these ideas can help you as you spend precious time in God’s Word!
Do you have any study methods that have helped you? Please share in the comments!!
Wanting to have a better understanding of His Word?
Desiring to know God more?
Having a hard time with it?
If there’s one thing I’ve (Chrystal) learned over six and a half years of marriage it’s that good relationships take intentionality. My husband and I enjoy doing certain dates over and over again because it’s just downright comfortable and requires little planning on our part. (And I’m thankful for the comfort and steady consistency of those kinds of dates or else I don’t think we’d be getting out very much! 😉
However, there are also times when trying something new can grow us closer in an entirely different way; we learn something new about each other that we didn’t expect simply because we’re in a new setting.
I would suggest to you that my relationship with God is no different. I often spend time with Him in the same way each day because it’s just comfortable and steady. But sometimes, trying something new can be an extremely helpful way to “shake things up” and give me fresh motivation in my pursuit of God.
Yes, God’s Word and prayer are the primary means through which we pursue Him, but I believe our approaches to these tools can be different:
Going to a coffee shop and spending time with God like I would with any other friend.
Turning on music and stopping long enough to listen to the truths being shared.
Reading a book that grows me in my understanding of how to approach scripture.
Turning on a recording of the Bible as I wash dishes.
Writing down my prayers.
Memorizing some new songs and humming them throughout the day.
Carrying around verse cards that help me to hide God’s Word in my heart.
Trying out some new colored pens to mark notes in my Bible.
The list could go on and on. And whatever method I (or you!) may choose, the goal remains the same. Pursue God. He is worth knowing!
So, if you feel like you need a new way to pursue Him in the coming year, check out some of the compiled resources below that Angie, Rachel and I have all found helpful in our walks with Him.
Click on the image if you would like to view these resources on Amazon.
Women of the Word
This is a helpful book that drives home the importance of spending time in the Word & studying it for oneself! In a clear & easy to understand format, this book breaks down the process of how to study the Bible. Aimed at women, Wilkin reminds us of the need to grow in studying God’s Word so that we can know Him more & in turn, love Him more.
Praying the Bible
Another resource for appreciating the riches of God’s Word, “Praying the Bible” will open your eyes to the potential of using God’s inspired Word to fuel your prayer life. This book is an easy but profound read and will give fresh motivation to cultivating the discipline of spending time in prayer with the Lord.
Taking God at His Word
This little book elevates the sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity of the Bible to such an extent that you cannot miss the point that the Bible is the Word of God and that only from Scripture can we grow to know Him better! This book is a fantastic read!”
Hymns: Modern and Ancient
We are commanded many times in scripture to sing praises to God. Using a hymnal can be a great tool to help us with this call to worship. This particular hymnal is a unique blend of old and new songs that will help you to reflect on truths about God
The Word of Promise: New Testament – Bible on Audio
I highly recommend this recording of the New Testament. Sound effects and varying voices are used for different characters throughout each chapter, helping to bring the Bible to life.
Simply copy down Scripture. That’s what they used to do in Bible times, and that is the premise for Journibles. It may sound simplistic, but the process of writing out a book of the Bible has rewards that can only be understood once you have done it.
A Journal Bible is a beautiful tool for men or women to observe and meditate on truths as they use the black space on each page for note taking or sketching art that correlates with Biblical truth!
These no smear, no bleed pens are perfect for marking and making notes in your Bible as you study.
We hope these resources and tools will be a blessing to you as you grow in your relationship with Jesus through His Word and Prayer!
Sometimes, spending time in the Word is wonderful: Time flies while we mark our Bible and journal insights; every verse seems saturated with living truths filled with practical encouragement. Our hearts are refreshed and filled with joy after spending time in fellowship with God.
Other times, it feels like a chore, does it not?
How often do we have those days when we’re reading in the Pentateuch or in the Major Prophets and nothing seems relevant to living life in the twenty-first century? We wonder how in the world such seemingly unconnected and irrelevant passages can change our lives to be more like Christ.
So why do we do it?
Why do we read the Bible? Why should we persist through those days when Scripture feels as dry and boring as that piece of leftover toast from yesterday’s breakfast? Why should we desire to plod through those portions of Scripture filled with graphic R-rated scenes and pronouncements of doom and gloom on defiant Israel and godless nations?
Why do we believe that Scripture is vital for the spiritual life and growth of the believer?
While we could discuss many reasons for why we should be in the Word, perhaps we could boil them down to two primary motives for why we should read—indeed, why we need to read—the Word on a regular basis: We read the Word because it is about God and we read the Word because it instructs us in godly living.
1. We read the Word because It reveals God to Us
Scripture is unlike any man-written book because of it’s Author and it’s content. Written by divine means, Scripture is God’s specific revelation of Himself to mankind. Without God’s written Word in our hands, we wouldn’t know how God has dealt in the past, how He is working right now, and how He has determined to act in the future.
Without Scripture, our understanding of God’s character would be greatly lacking and the free gift of salvation offered to all would be unheard of news throughout all of creation.
In short, without Scripture, we would have no means of knowing the God of the universe. (Yes, Christ came to earth as the revealed Word, but it is Scripture that bears the divine witness of His life, death, and resurrection.)
While God has revealed general aspects of His character through creation, that is not enough for us to truly know and love Him for who He is. This is a scary thought, for if we do not have a means of knowing God, life here on earth is purposeless, futile, and vain: We’re born. We live our life. And we die. The end.
But as 2 Peter 1:20-21 tells us,
“…the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”
Yes, God gave us the Scriptures and He is the divine Author of it! Not only that, but it is within the very pages of Scripture that He has made Himself known to mankind!
As Kevin DeYoung says in his outstanding book Taking God at His Word, “Only in Scripture do we encounter the fullness of God’s self-disclosure. Only in Scripture do we find the good news of the forgiveness of sins. Only in Scripture can we be led to believe in Jesus Christ and, by believing, have life in his name.” (page 116)
And so, if we want to know God, we must turn to the Book that He has written concerning Himself: it is crucial that we spend intentional time in the very pages of Scripture.
2. We read the Word because it instructs us.
As the blood-bought, adopted, and beloved children of God, we should desire to please Him, the One who ransomed us out of the clutches of sin and made us fellow-heirs with His only begotten Son, Jesus.
It only naturally follows, then, that we should desire to please Him.
The question then begs to be asked: where then do we learn how to please Him?
Once again, the answer is found in the pages of Scripture.
2 Timothy 3: 16-17 gives us the purpose of Scripture:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
We see here that Scripture is given to teach us, to rebuke us, to correct us, and to train us.
And this is all for the intent of equipping us to fulfill God’s purpose for us: to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).
Yes, this is how we can live to please God.
Furthermore, Psalm 19:7-11 abounds with descriptors of what the Word does: it revives the soul, it makes wise the simple, it rejoices the heart, it enlightens the eyes, it gives warnings, and it rewards those who keep it.
In the same passage, Scripture declares itself to be true, righteous, more to be desired than fine gold, and sweeter than honey.
After such an extensive list, is there any doubt that the believer should place a high priority on being in the Word?
These two reasons then—the conviction that Scripture is God’s specific revelation of Himself to mankind and that Scripture is God’s instructions to man concerning godly living—should become driving motivations for being in the Word on a regular basis.
Do you want to know God more? Be in the Word.
Do you want to understand how His character influences His ways? Be in the Word.
Do you want to know how to live a life pleasing to Him? Be in the Word.
Yes, be in the Word.
It sounds simple because it is.
In its most basic and straightforward form, being in the Word simply means literally, physically and intentionally reading the words of Scripture.
Being in the Word may vary from one season of life to the next; it may also vary from one person to the next.
And that’s okay.
What is important is that in each season of life, whether you’re single and pursuing graduate-studies or a newly-wed with the glow of love on your face, seek to make it a priority to spend time in the Word.
Or maybe you’re a first-time mom struggling to adjust to the new normal or an empty-nester wishing the house weren‘t so quiet: whatever stage of life you are in right now, find the how, the when, and the where that works best for you.
In this new year, may we each pursue spending time in the Word so that we might grow to know and love Him more!