Tips and Tools
Last week’s blog, Hello Summer https://www.victoriouseducator.com/blog/hello-summer challenged all of us to use this summer as a time to strengthen our walk with the Lord by establishing spiritual routines of prayer and Bible study. I promised this week’s blog would follow with resources and suggestions, but before I share my thoughts, I want to lay some groundwork.
First, I am no expert on this topic. I am sharing what has worked for me, and I truly hope many who read this blog will share their own insights and thoughts. We can all learn from each other. Second, prayer and Bible study are NOT about duty. Prayer and Bible study are about relationship. As I shared last week, God loves us and want to bless us. The Bible is clear on that point. However, God also gave us free will. If we want a relationship with Jesus Christ, it is up to us.
When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:12-13
When thinking about our relationship with God, I was reminded of a song recorded by Larnelle Harris. It is called “I Miss My Time with You.” Here are a few of the lyrics. You might want to check it out on YouTube!
There He was just waiting In our old familiar place An empty spot beside Him Where once I used to wait To be filled with strength and wisdom For the battles of the day I would have passed Him by again If I didn't hear Him say
(Chorus) I miss my time with you Those moments together I need to be with you each day And it hurts Me when you say You're too busy Busy trying to serve Me But how can you serve Me When your spirit’s empty
Nothing feeds our soul like spending time with our heavenly Father.
Finally, prayer and Bible study are about truly knowing God. Heaven forbid we try to define God with human reasoning. This is when we get into trouble. I hear about so many Christians today who are living in a state of confusion and/or defeat. I fear this is a result of listening to so many voices other than the Word of God. According to a recent Lifeway study, almost half of all proclaiming Christians have read less than a few passages in the Bible, and less than a quarter of those who do read the Bible have a systematic plan for reading the Scriptures each day. If we are not reading the Bible, how will we truly know the precious love of God and all He wants for us? How can we discern truth?
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
While one might have a tendency to focus on the phrase “…make us realize what is wrong in our lives,” we can’t overlook the first word—ALL. All Scripture is inspired by God! All Scripture is useful to teach us what is true! With all the noise in our world today, we know with confidence there is only one authoritative source when it comes to truth—the Bible.
I can already hear some people saying, “I try to read the Bible, but I just have trouble understanding it.” This happens to all of us. Some parts of the Bible are hard to understand, but I truly believe God reveals what He wants us to understand through the work of the Holy Spirit. This is why the Word is called living and active! Jesus knew we would need help. He told his disciples, “Remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” John 14:24-26
God has provided all we need to enter into an intimate relationship with Him—His Son Jesus, His divine word, the Holy Spirit, and prayer. Now it’s up to us.
As promised, I want to share a few strategies, supports, and resources that have helped me. Please respond to this blog and share what works for you!
The best time for me is in the morning before everyone gets up (with a cup of coffee).
It just works for me because there are fewer distractions. Recently I have been reading in the Psalms, and I have found so many references to “the morning” that seem to echo my feelings. Here are a couple.
In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. Psalm 5:3
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8
Maybe morning doesn’t work for you, and that is fine. God wants to spend time with you, and He is more than willing to allow you to pick the time! Try your best to make it a routine. You will begin to look forward to it!
My quiet time usually includes the following:
While all three of these happen over and over throughout my quiet time, I want to briefly comment on each one.
Prayer. Over five years ago, my pastor at the time, Hosea Bileau, taught us a frame for reading the Word. I still use it today. Before I open my Bible and begin reading, I ask God to help me…
· Listen slowly
· Think deeply
· Pray fervently
· Obey faithfully
I also pray for His Holy Spirit to speak to my heart and to bind Satan! The devil loves to get me sidetracked! To minimize distractions, I keep a notepad handy to write down any “to do’s” that come to mind. This way I won’t dwell on those distractions.
Reading. In the past I have done various Bible studies that have daily reading and assignments. Those have been extremely beneficial. As I mentioned earlier, I am reading through the Psalms. Sometimes I read whole chapters. Sometimes I focus on a few verses. It all depends on how the Holy Spirit is leading. I tend to read longer passages because I find the context helps me understand the Word. I also have several translations of the Bible on my phone. If I am having trouble understanding a text, I look it up in the Amplified Version or maybe a Contemporary English version. In addition, I have a great study Bible with extensive notes throughout. I often find those helpful.
Journaling. I usually write down key verses or key words that stand out for me. I then will jot down “thoughts”. Sometimes those thoughts are insights, sometimes convictions or questions, and sometimes prayers.
If you have ever done a group Bible study, I’m sure these three activities look quite familiar. By weaving these three together, I find my quiet time to be very empowering. I am amazed at how God reveals Himself and His direction for my life over and over again. My trust is strengthened, and I am learning to lean on Him more and more each day.
As promised, I wanted to share some resources that I have found helpful. Please keep in mind that nothing should replace your time in God’s Word; additionally, everything we read should be weighed against the truth of Scripture.
Books. All of these books are amazing, insightful, thought provoking, and convicting. I have read some of them more than once! I am sure all of these can be found on Amazon or in any Christian bookstore.
· Knowing God by J.I. Packer
· Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore
· Pathways: From Providence to Purpose by Tony Evans
· It’s Time to Pray by Carter Conlon
· The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
· It’s Okay Not to be Okay by Sheila Walsh
· It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst
· Unashamed by Christine Caine
· Audacious by Beth Moore
· Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry
· Choose Joy by Kay Warren
· Purpose Drive Life by Rick Warren
· Love Does by Bog Goff
Bible Studies. Most of these include study books and videos.
· 40 Days of Prayer by Rick Warren
· Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby
· Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer
· Believing God by Beth Moore
· Job: A Story of Unlikely Joy by Lisa Harper
· No More Excuses by Tony Evans
· Daniel by Beth Moore
Weekly E-Mails. Right now I receive weekly e-mails from Propel Women, Greg Laurie, and Tony Evans. I find the insights shared by these ministries helpful in my Christian walk.
By no means is this an all-inclusive list or even the best list for everyone. These are books, Bible studies, and ministries that have been influential in my life, and I wanted to share them with you. Please respond to this blog and share resources or strategies that you have found helpful as you continue to grow in your relationship with Christ through prayer and bible study.
I am already praying that God will speak to your heart this summer and that you will feel His presence in a powerful way as you seek Him through prayer and Bible study.
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8