How I Fuel the Fire for Personal Bible Study
I remember reading the words on a sun-splattered spring dawn, and I could not honestly say I related. The words went like this: “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2 NIV).
I want both my heart and my flesh to literally yearn – to hunger – for God, but there are plenty of mornings when I open my Bible with waning enthusiasm. A wise mentor once compared daily Bible reading to a daily bowl of oatmeal for breakfast: Most days, nothing unexpected happens when you eat the meal; nonetheless, it continues to nourish and sustain you day after day.
While I agree with this comparison, there are seasons when I find myself desperate to fuel the fire for personal Bible study. I’ve found several key ingredients to fan the flame:
1. Being with Hungry People
Have you ever noticed that if the people in your house are intent on snacking all evening long, it’s far more difficult to practice self-control than it is to join them on a chip-munching binge?
In the same way, spending time with people who are hungry to draw nearer to God ignites the same passion in me. There are a handful of friends in my life who talk about their Bible reading as if they’ve just had a very direct and personal conversation with God. They speak of obscure Old Testament passages as if they have directly heard the voice of God thundering from heaven.
These friends inspire me to open my Bible with an expectation to encounter God in the reading every day. Hunger for God is contagious.
2. Living Outside My Comfort Zone on a Daily Basis
The correlation between my zeal for Bible study and my passion for living out the gospel in my everyday life cannot be denied. In seasons when I’m deliberately following God out of my comfort zone, I always find myself more attentive to his voice in my everyday moments and more desperate for his truth as I open his written Word.
This doesn’t mean I have to plan an overseas missions trip every two months. It simply means I regularly ask God where I can follow him in sharing the gospel – whether by word or by deed – and I step out of the safety of my comfortable space to follow him.
This might look like baking banana bread for the neighbors, prayer walking on the local university campus, inviting a new friend to church, opening our home for a community dinner, or daily taking steps to step out in faith to follow a long-time dream. Living outside my comfort zone goads me to a place of greater dependence upon God, and when I am desperate for him, I am hungry for his written Word.
The spiritual discipline of simplicity helps me cast aside the distractions that keep me from pursuing God with focused vision. Simply put, I limit the amount of time I spend on social media each day. I limit clutter in my home so I’m not distracted by it. I limit the commitments in our schedule so I have time to simply rest in God’s presence.
I make time to practice silence and solitude, bask in God’s love, and dig deeply into Bible study each morning. The discipline of simplicity creates time and space to do more than merely skim the text of my Bible.
It gives me time to wait for the Holy Spirit to illuminate a verse in my daily reading, and I make it a habit to visit biblehub.com and do a Greek or Hebrew word study on at least one word from my key verse each day. I read commentaries. I go deeper. This kind of study fuels my hunger for God’s truth.
4. Time Spent Looking at Him
Finally, I make time to simply look at God. It is said that we become what we look at. I spend time simply seeking God for who he is, not for what he can do for me. I set aside my long lists of prayer requests and questions about my future, and I simply fix my eyes on his glorious presence.
Some days, this means I study one of the hundreds of names he gives himself in Scripture and come to know him more deeply through his attributes. Other days, I read the words of Revelation and imagine him seated on his throne as I worship him. I often spend time outdoors admiring the works of his hands as they declare his glory and goodness.
I find that the more time I spend lifting my eyes away from myself and fixing them on his love goodness, the more voracious my appetite to consume his Word becomes.
If you would like to take a journey into a life that is less hurried and more intentional, my gift to you today is my free 21-day devotional Unrushed: Train Yourself to be Less Hurried, More Disciplined, and More Intentional in Your Relationships with God and Others. Each day of this journey will focus on one of the following: your thoughts, your relationship with God, or your relationships with others. This is a transformational journey into a life that is more present – more fully lived.
Stacey is a lover of the woods, a passionate and imperfect follower of Christ, the mother of two blue-eyed children, the wife of Darrell, and much more. A certified special education teacher, Stacey is on leave from the classroom for a season of chasing frogs and playing in creeks with her little ones. She writes words about her walk of faith in the in-between moments, and she mentors and teaches the Bible to younger women. Most of all, she is desperate to live out the love the Lord has lavished upon her and make that love known to the world. She writes weekly at www.staceypardoe.com.