Exactly one year before Liam was born, I posted this update on the state of my faith. In it I discussed how I floundered in my faith after Meredith was born and we lost our church, and how I eventually came back to a place of daily time with God and studying scripture.
Since then, I have had another baby and changed jobs. My devotional time wasn’t always consistent before those two big events, but ever since maternity leave I have been diligent with it, mostly because I now have a lot more time in the mornings. I still wake up around 5am, but now I spend an hour in study and prayer instead of pressing the snooze button three times and then scrambling to get out the door by 6. I am incredibly grateful for this extra time.
I want to say that even though I’ve been doing regular quiet times again for the last couple of years, my heart hasn’t always been in it. Many times I would just read a brief devotion and not even really say a prayer. But I do think there was a benefit to the fact that I still took the time to do even that – because now the yearning is back. The deep desire to know God and to learn more about his Word. To dive deep into it.
These periods of passion have a tendency to come and go in my life. When I’m in a dry spell I feel far away from God and I can hardly remember what it is like to be consumed by Him. But I try to stay faithful, because I know He is there. And He always brings me back, and makes Himself known to me again. This time, I want to stay here, in this place. I don’t want the passion to go away again.
I wanted to share what I’ve been doing for my Bible study sessions, because I am finding so much joy in them and learning an incredible amount. When I was deciding how to structure my time, I thought about what I wanted: something with guidance and structure. Something in-depth with a lot of digging. More focused on the learning and study, but should also have some practical application. I also wanted to do some analyzing on my own, and I needed a way to fit prayer in.
So that’s why I decided to base my sessions around Beth Moore’s study guides. I have done six of them in the past and I’m currently working through my seventh, which is on the book of James. Even though they are written with a small group in mind and have weekly videos (which I don’t watch because they are too expensive to buy on my own), the daily homework is where the real meat is. So I start off by working through that day’s homework. I make notes in my Bible and read the footnotes and sometimes the cross references too.
Usually this alone is a great Bible study, but I wanted to push it a little further and think independently. I read somewhere about Elisabeth Eliot’s recommendation for Bible study, which is to read a passage and then answer these questions: 1) what does it tell you about God, 2) Jesus Christ, 3) the Holy Spirit, and 4) Christian love? 5) Are there any commands to obey, or 6) sins to confess? 7) What does it tell you about yourself? I’ve started writing down the answers to all of those questions.
Finally, I’ve begun journaling my prayers as well. I’m keeping a list of pressing prayer needs and every day I am writing some of them out. It helps me to prioritize this and to really meditate on them.
It’s nice when I can complete my whole Bible study before the kids wake up, but they are early risers so that doesn’t usually happen. Sometimes Liam is with me the whole time – nursing or playing on the floor – and sometimes Meredith wakes up part way through. When that happens I bring her to sit on my lap or next to me and she knows that I have to finish my Bible study before we can go make breakfast. She is usually happy to wait and cuddle or go play with Liam. It’s more distracting with them there, but I do like that she gets to see me actively studying God’s word first thing in the morning and that she will know how important it is.
One more thing. This daily time with God is changing me. I am feeling called to act on my faith in a way that I never have before. I’m not sure what it’s going to look like, but something is going to happen. And, as it turns out, it is inspiring me creatively as well. Tomorrow I want to share with you the beginning of the art journal I finally started that is based on what I’m learning in my study.