Yesterday’s post is super important to me. If you haven’t read it yet, go read that one first: Getting God’s Word into Your Heart. And then come back here to see a huge list of helpful, practical ideas to help you with this challenge!
Promise me you’ll give these ideas a try. Not all at once. But do try more than one. And keep adding to your arsenal. If I’m going to remember something I hear or read, I almost always have to hear it/read it multiple times. And it helps to have it reinforced in multiple ways. So over the years, I’ve collected ideas here and there – and maybe expanded them into what works best for me. I hope that a number of these will work for you, too.
And frankly, I’ve figured out that starting out the day with ANY reference to God’s Word is simply the best way to kick the morning off right. Seriously, it makes a huge difference in my attitude and level of joy throughout the rest of the day. Try it. I can guarantee you’ll notice a positive change, too. 😉
Prayers for you on this journey, friends! It’s the most epic one of our lives!
#1. Make time for God’s Word.
As in, literally telling yourself something like, “If I don’t have time to read the Bible, I don’t have time to watch TV.” Or read a book for pleasure…or peruse Facebook…or shop online. Give God your firstfruits…your best. That also means, when you’re the least tired, if at all possible. He deserves it.
#2. Read God’s Word.
But REALLY read it. Don’t just “call words.” Get out your pen or highlighters and truly focus on the most important words and thoughts. If you get distracted, back up and reread a bit before you go on.
#3. Speak God’s Word.
Say the words out loud. Practice saying them with expression and feeling. There’s almost nothing worse than a monotone reading of God’s Word! Hear your familiar voice reciting God’s promises, Jesus’ parables, the letters of Paul.
#4. Write God’s Word.
There’s just something about seeing God’s Word in your own handwriting. It really helps cement it inside your brain. This month I’m enjoying following this scripture writing challenge. I’m definitely planning to keep this up, even though I missed a few days last week! It takes less than 10 minutes per day – and you guys, that is a teeny-tiny amount of time for a much bigger benefit!
By the way, I like to read the words aloud as I write them. Then I go back and underline or star the most important words or thoughts. I finish up with a prayer to go along with that day’s scripture. That little quiet time is always uplifting. Highly recommended!
#5. Sing God’s Word.
There are tons of songs straight from scripture. Sing some as you go about your day. You’ll probably find that those songs will stick with you and pop back up in random moments. I actually love it when that happens. 😉 A scripture-based ear worm? I’m thinking that’s a good thing. =)
#6. Listen to God’s Word.
My husband listens to the Bible on his 30-minute commute every work day. He’s done that for over a year now. It has been fantastic for him – because he reads so much for work, he generally doesn’t enjoy reading much at home. (Unless he’s prepping for teaching our Sunday morning class) This way, he’s able to “read” through the entire Bible in much less than a year. Crazy!
This year, I have started listening to it while I do the dishes (almost) every day. 😉 Our congregation has a reading plan this year that goes book by book in the New Testament (in chronological order); it’s been super easy to go to Biblegateway.com and find the next passage and press play. You can’t listen to every version, but there’s audio for the most popular versions of the Bible.
#7. Pray God’s Word.
This is a new one for me, but I alluded to it in #4 with the writing of God’s Word. Sometimes I haven’t known how to praise God very well, except for continually telling Him how beautiful the world is – “Thank you, God, for daffodils!” or “This sunset is amazing!” But when we read a scripture that tells us something about God, we can immediately use that very scripture to express our gratitude.
Here’s an example from a Facebook group I’m in – we’re studying Jennifer Gerhardt’s book “Prayer, In Practice,” which I really recommend. One of our moderators (and a guest poster here on The Ruffled Mango) Becky Welch posted this recently, “James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
“Dear Heavenly Father, Giver of every perfect gift that comes our way. Thank you for being so generous towards us in all aspects of our lives. We know we are a blessed and rich people not out of any of our doing, but because of your generous spirit. Father, we come to you today and we pray for wisdom. You have said if we ask, it will be given to you. We come asking for wisdom in how to raise and care for our families. We ask for wisdom in how to bring others to You. We ask for wisdom in how we balance all aspects of our lives so that overall You are glorified. Be with us. Let us see You in all. Fill us with Your wisdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
See how that works? It kinda blew my mind – in a wonderful way. =)
#8. Memorize God’s Word.
I have to admit…I’m not the best about this. But I’m also not the best about memorizing exact lines from movies or books either (or sometimes even songs!) so I chalk that one up to a flawed brain. 😉 I can, however, read or watch something multiple times and have a pretty good handle on it, even if I get a few articles of speech out of place. And if I really TRY to memorize something, it may not come easy…but it’s possible! And it’s worth it to have some encouraging scriptures under your belt. If little kids can do it on YouTube, surely we can do it, too. 😉
#9. Read about God’s Word.
If you’re not reading some thoughtfully written and scripturally sound books, articles, and blog posts (in addition to your regular scripture reading), you’re missing out, in my opinion. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been enlightened about a particular verse that had previously puzzled me. However, don’t fall into the trap of ONLY reading what other people say about the scriptures. We humans are not infallible. We make mistakes. So always make sure what you’re reading matches up with what God really said. And that’s going to take some time being in the Word yourself.
#10. Ponder God’s Word.
A strange thing begins to happen when you read the Bible more…you think about the Bible more. At random times, in random places, a verse will pop into your mind. And you’ll think on it. Sometimes it’ll bring you joy. Sometimes it’ll step on your toes. But, see? It’s the Word of God growing in your heart. Nudges from the Holy Spirit. And that’s a beautiful thing. =)
#12. Paraphrase God’s Word.
If you’ve ever tried an inductive Bible study, you’ve probably already done this. You write out the verses on one side of the page – and then paraphrase it on the other side of the page. Then you note questions and comments on the reading. I have done that quite a bit in the past, but not as much lately. It’s a good way to figure out if you understand a passage or not! If you can’t rewrite it in different words, that’s an indication that you might need further study on that subject. 😉
#12. Track your reading of God’s Word.
I’m a list person. I love to make a list and then mark the completed items off, one by one. It keeps me going and keeps me accountable. If you’re a list person, too, you may like this new idea I came up with several weeks ago. I have a small spiral calendar that I’ve started to use JUST to keep up with health stuff – physical and spiritual and emotional. At the beginning of every week, I write down these five things that I want to complete every day: Bible reading, Scripture writing, Prayer, Exercise, and Dishes (yep!). Those are five things I am personally concentrating on forming great habits with. And I have to say, it’s working GREAT. I also make notations on what exercise I did that day, the menu plan for that week, etc. Turns out I’m one of those who needs to SEE the progress I’m making. I like the little gold star program…or just a simple checkmark. 😉
Also, as I mentioned before, our congregation has a yearly Bible reading plan – the elders have bookmarks printed for each quarter. In the past, I’ve kept those in my Bible, but since I’ve been doing the audio version of the Bible this year, I simply stuck the bookmark front and center on the fridge. And I’m loving it! I see it multiple times a day and I can easily see how far my checkmarks go. Right now, I’m actually ahead (which has NEVER happened before with any Bible reading plan!) It’s definitely encouraging and makes me want to keep going!
#13. Study God’s Word.
Get thee a commentary. For Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, may I recommend J.W. McGarvey’s The FourFold Gospel or A Harmony of the Four Gospels (The christian classic!)? I’m only partway through, but it’s been fascinating. Our Sunday school class is going to use it for an upcoming study, too.
Also, my parents gifted Jeremy with The ESV Study Bible. He absolutely is carried away with it. It’s fantastic for when he teaches Bible class. And I’m definitely going to start consulting it, too!
#14. Live God’s Word.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22) “Everyone then who hears these words and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
#15. Discuss God’s Word.
Another funny thing will happen when you read your Bible more. You’ll want to talk about it more. So discuss it – with your spouse, your parents, your friends, your kids. You’ll be able to converse intelligently about it and understand the many layers of God’s plan of redemption. And that’s pretty cool.
#16. Teach God’s Word.
Even if you’re teaching an elementary school Bible class, YOU will learn the most of anyone. So, yes, agree to teach if that’s a talent you’re gifted with…or at least assist in a class. Train that next generation to get God’s Word into their hearts. =)
Do you have any more ideas to add to this list?? I’d love to hear from you!