When & Where Should I study the Bible?
[[ This is the final blog of a mini-series covering foundational truths that we must understand in order to rightly steward the Word of God. Find the first one HERE, the second one HERE, and the third one HERE.
Ah-ha! Did you see what I did there? This mini-series covered the WHO, WHAT, WHY, and now we’re discussing the WHEN & WHERE… that was nifty wasn't it?? ;) Hehe! ]]
Okay enough of the silliness, let’s get down to business.
When & Where should you study the Bible?
ANY time & ANY place!
There doesn’t have to be a certain place, or a certain time, or mood. God wants YOU + HIS WORD whenever! I have missed out on the opportunity to spend time in God’s word SO many times because I had built up this picture in my head of what this special “time with God” should look like.
(in a slightly shrill scream, with hands held to head) Enough with the "pinterest worthy", quiet time, color coordinated highlighters, “Jesus” coffee mug, perfect sunlight, on a wooden table top, with a light & airy filter, pressures and expectations! ENOUGH ALREADY!
Phew. Sorry I yelled.
I just had to get that out.
David wrote many psalms in a cave, some he wrote from his bedroom. Moses recorded the ten commandments on stones on the mountaintop and authored the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the OT) while wandering in the wilderness. Paul wrote multiple letters from house arrest and some from prison. John wrote the book of Revelation from an island. I compiled ALL of that mindless trivia and history tidbits to help us see that all of the pressure that we feel to have a “quiet” time and “quiet” space for studying God’s word is totally self-induced.
Are there certain times that we should sit in the quiet to pray and listen for the still small voice of our Creator? YES absolutely!
Are we called to seasons of deep studying of scripture that require the mental capacity that can only be reached in a quiet time? YES!
We see in scripture over and over Jesus setting an example of separating and secluding himself to hear the voice of his father:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” - Mark 1:35
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” - Luke 5:16
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” - Luke 6:12
But are these quiet times of seclusion the only times that God can speak to us?
Are those the only times that we can study God’s Word and know Him deeper? Or be convicted and encouraged?
Thankfully the answer is NO!
I’ve included some pictures of what studying God’s Word “looks like” in my current season of life. (Lunch time, morning time, car time, “free play” time, outside time, middle of the night time.)
I know I’ve shared with you many times that I’m an early riser and most of those quiet moments are the moments that I open up God’s Word and He is gracious to meet with me there. But what about the mornings that I was already awake when my 5:45am alarm went off because a child had to go to the bathroom at 4 am and I never went back to sleep, or the mornings that I’m just too exhausted to roll out of the bed that morning because my body is physically exhausted from the day of physical labor before (hello farm life & hello thirties!) or the morning that I got up at 5:45 but had to pay the bills and balance the checkbook or lesson plan, or online grocery shop? Did I just miss out on time with God because I missed the only “quiet time” of my day? NO! Here are some promises from scripture that have nothing to do with a quiet time:
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Isaiah 41:10
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." - Zephaniah 3:17
"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:20b
"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38
Before we move on, can we address the elephant in the room? I think I know what has been going on in your head as you have been reading this blog. In the back of your mind, you’ve run through the list of things “to-do” that’s already a mile long. Where in the world could you possibly find any more time?
I relate to this so much, I used to write as the last item at the bottom of my daily list of things to do, “Rewrite list of things left to do for tomorrow” just to make myself laugh. You have to laugh to keep from crying right?
Maybe you feel like you’re just in a “busy season of life.” This “season” that we often find ourselves in, requires a LOT of grace from God to continue pursuing us, but that is because it is not so much a “season of life” as it is a posture of the heart. Hang with me here, as a mother of four, who has moved a lot, been involved in plenty of activities, and been in community with a lot of women over the past several years, I am very familiar with the temptation to name a “season” or period of time in our lives a “busy season.” I am well aware of the temptation to say, “I just have so much going on right now” or “when things slow down, I’ll have more time to be in God’s word.”
I want to ask us to examine the posture of our hearts in these so-called “busy” seasons because then I might find that I have been in a busy season of life for more than 6 months, or more than a year, or maybe it's been a busy few years of my life. When I think back to how much simpler my life was 5 or 10 years ago, and I recall my mindset during that time frame - Did I recognize that it was calmer and I had less to do than I would in the coming years? Did I rest in that perspective? Or did I also feel just as busy back then, even though I certainly had less responsibility? Regardless of the amount of schoolwork or work deadlines, the size of our family, the amount of activities we are engaged in, time commitments we’ve made, square footage of living space we have to clean, or amount of hours we are working outside of the home, we will ALWAYS have the opportunity to be “too busy” for time with God and studying His Word.
In all seasons of this life, if we are honest, we’ll admit that it’s not a time issue, it’s a priority issue. (Consider this your warning: get your boots on, I’m going there…) Can I be so busy that I don’t have time for God and the study of His Word but keep up with online interactions and social media? Can I be too overwhelmed with things to do that I just can’t carve out a few minutes to read every day and study on a regular basis but I’m binge-watching the newly released tv-drama? We’ll talk more about this in an upcoming blog about desire and discipline but for now, I just wanted to address the elephant in the room… the lie we all love to believe, “I’m just too busy.”
I’d also love to share my experiences of struggling to have “time” for God in three specific seasons of life and they are the times in my life when I have required the most grace (SO much grace) in this specific discipline. [Spoiler alert: God has always proven faithful to never run out of grace for me.] Obviously there are other specific seasons of life that make spending time in God’s Word difficult, but this list is specific to my life experiences and are included for anyone who can relate. You can click here to read more about knowing God in the postpartum season, seasons of grief, or seasons of depression. Or you can continue to read here as I wrap this post up with a final encouragement & challenge.
I prefer to spend time in God’s Word first thing in the morning but it's totally a personal preference. Like I mentioned, there are plenty of days that I have to study the Bible during a “back up time” slot because of various reasons and God is so faithful to meet me in those moments. This time in His word is NOT something that God requires FROM us, it is a discipline that He desires FOR us. ANY time, ANYwhere that we sit with God in His Word and desire to know Him deeper, He is faithful to meet us there. Whatever this “season of life” looks like for you, I can promise you that you won’t be disappointed with the decision to view every day through the lens of God’s Word.
“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” - Isaiah 55:11
I challenge you to download a bible app on your phone, or carry a pocket sized bible and some time over the next 7 days, find a “new” slice of time in your day that you can redeem for life giving time in God’s Word. Maybe you can go ahead and see opportunities in the days ahead or maybe it will be a totally sporadic moment. It doesn’t matter. Any time, any where! Dear Lord, help us to prioritize time in Your Word as it is time with You. Reveal any opportunities in the time that You've given us to steward that we could be leveraging for time with You. Turn our hearts desire towards You Lord, that this wouldn’t be another thing on our checklist but that it would be the favorite time of our day.