Monday, November 23, 2009

Morning Solitude

I've had a couple friends ask me how to start getting into the Word more regularly. I'm no expert, nor am I am shining example, but I do have some ideas that have worked for me (during those times that I am consistent).

Why do Bible reading, prayer, journaling, etc. in the mornings?

I don't know about you, but if there is something I NEED to get done, I have to plan to do it first thing in the morning. If I am in one of those phases where I'm trying to exercise regularly, I MUST do it in the morning. If it's housecleaning day, or laundry day, morning is the time to get it done. It seems that the more time I let pass, the easier it becomes to put off what's important until I eventually decide to take care of it...tomorrow.

Time can slip by so quickly in the early morning. If I allow myself to do anything before my time with God, I typically run out of time. It's easy to tell yourself, "I'll just unload the dishwasher. That will only take 2 minutes. Then I'll sit down with my Bible." But we all know how women are about multi-tasking! One small job leads to another, and before we know it half an hour has passed and life is upon us.

So, to prevent the stuff of life from distracting you from your good intentions to spend time with God daily, it needs to be the first thing you do each day.

What if I'm not a morning person? Or I just don't have time in the morning?

It's hard to change your regular routine! I suggest you start small. Set your alarm for just 15 minutes earlier in the morning. Once you sit in your quiet spot: pray for God to speak to you from His Word; read a short passage of Scripture (maybe just a couple verses); reflect on what they mean and how they can apply to you; then get ready for your day. After a week or two, set the alarm for another 15 minutes earlier.

When I first started getting up earlier in the morning, I found myself very tired throughout the day. Mid-afternoon would often find my nodding off or yawning uncontrollably. Some days I countered the tiredness with an afternoon cup of coffee, some days (rarely, ha) I would do a few minutes of exercise, other days (more often) I'd grab a power nap. By the time evening rolled along, I would have a second wind and end up staying up late, making the next day even more exhausting. But after about two weeks of this cycle, my body fought back! It is not often you will find me awake past 10pm on a weeknight these days. You also won't find me dozing off during my supper prep time anymore.

I'm so tired in the mornings that I'm not remembering anything I read.

Here are a few quick tips to make the most of your learning and retention from your Bible times...
- Always pray first, asking God to make His Word clear to you and asking Him to speak to you in your life from what you read.
- Read shorter passages and focus on them, rather than trying to read through several chapters at once. (Personally, I find that most of those 'read the Bible in a year' schedules have me reading far too much at once. Sure, I may have read through my whole Bible, but I haven't taken much of it to heart.)
- Write down a passage that really speaks to you on an index card. Carry it around with you and meditate on it throughout the day. Look at it when you're stopped at a red light, standing in a line, waiting on hold, taking your coffee or lunch break.
- Write in your Bible! Make notes beside passages that hold special meaning for you. These notes will not only help you remember what you've read and how it spoke to you, but they will hold special meaning to the people in your life who love you. I consider my Bible study notes to be a huge part of the legacy I will leave for my children. My hope is that seeing my faith walk, my joys and struggles, and my spiritual growth will inspire and encourage them as they walk with the Lord.

I want to read my whole Bible, but every time I get started I find myself bogged down in Numbers and I give up.

The best thing I ever did to read through my entire Bible is that I stopped trying to read it in order! The Old Testament (OT) stories are fascinating, but there are books of the Bible that sure do seem to take more effort to dig through. My system (though not necessarily the most theologically sound) is to read from the OT - a book, maybe two if they're shorter - then reward myself for the hard work and focus by reading a book from the New Testament (NT). To keep track of what I've read, I just check off the books in the Table of Contents of my time through I turn the checks into time I circle the Xs...

Some other ideas I've heard include reading a passage from an OT book and a passage from a NT book each day, progressing forward through each. Many of those 'read the Bible in a year' systems provide you with an order to follow. Or a new thing that I've heard a few people rave about is the Chronological Bible - the books of the Bible are rearranged so that everything flows in order chronologically.

The most important thing is to do what works for you! Personally, I like to have guidelines to follow. If you don't, just pick up your Bible and read, spend time in prayer, write out any thoughts you have, and go with the flow! Either way, God is pleased when we choose to spend time with Him each day. And life just makes more sense when each day is started being filled up. No, it's not perfect or easy, but there is a unique peace that fills our days when we start them out with God.

1 comment:

  1. I am attempting to get back into my morning routnine also. May I sugest not to try to do it in bed?
    Such a good idea to check off the books you read randomly, then when reading agin, put an x.
    I am one who raves about my chronological Bible. I have made it to Deutr. (thus far all chapters in order we all know) I feel as long as I read a little each day I am going in the right direcion.


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