For those of you who aren't plugged into a Lifegroup and didn't go, this week Chi Alpha has been promoting its newest campaign, "Word and Waffles". It's pretty self-explanatory: the Word, a.k.a. our Bibles, and waffles. Jesus and free food, what's not to like?
The concept wasn't anything super difficult, simply a lesson on reading the Bible.
Yet, it was so much more than that.
In my waffle-filled session Tuesday night, Morgan and Ty walked us through some of the background history and lesser-known informational tidbits about the Bible. (For instance, I did not know that there are forty authors of the Bible. There's my 10% remembered from Tuesday.) They had us share why we think we ought to read the Bible and things that often keep us from reading, like intimidation, procrastination, pride, etc. We also established that even staff members--you know, the people who do this missions thing for an actual living--don't always feel like reading their Bibles or talking to God. Which was honestly pretty relieving, because they're human and they struggle too. But anywho, to help combat those things that get in the way, they gave us a list of seven steps to read the Bible:
1. Choose your tools.
- I paraphrased this as getting cozy with my Bible. String lights, fuzzy blankets, Disney mugs. Whatever will make you want to be there with your Bible, because God already knows you'd rather be in bed at 6 a.m. He won't mind if you need extra incentive if it'll get you there with Him.
2. Choose the books of the Bible you'll be reading.
- A friend of mine, when I told them that I wanted to read on the subject of family, suggested I read Genesis (I know, the one book everyone says not to start with. I make things difficult, sorry guys). I really liked what Ty shared about reading a Psalm, a Gospel, and an Epistle. So, if you literally have no clue where to start (like me), start with one from each of the three and make that your study.
3. Pray before you read.
- Following Ty's suggestion, I like to pray a specific Psalm over myself before getting into the meat of my study time. (See, Wes, "meat"? I listened to your message about getting fed, I promise!) If nothing else, just do a short, "Speak to me God."
- P.s. Maybe keep your eyes open while you pray if it's 6 in the morning. Take my word for it.
4. Read the passage.
- Again referencing Wes' message Monday night, you have to chew on what you read for a little while, let it really sink in. Try memorizing a verse or going back to that section throughout the day.
5. Ask questions.
- Contrary to common belief, you are allowed to doubt God--He already knows if you do, so feel free to be honest with Him. He's okay with that! By telling Him you aren't sure or don't understand, you're telling Him you'd like to know more. He can work with that.
6. Hold on to the teaching.
- Todd, the speaker at Fall Retreat, used one simple word to sum up this step: remain. Read the Word daily, keep it easily accessible, and stay in it. I like to share the particular verse I'm working on with my accountability partner, and she with me, so we can remind each other of our spiritual goals daily.
7. Pray. (Yes, again.)
- Here you can thank God for what He showed you or even just thank Him that you didn't fall asleep during your study... this time. (No shame. I think at least one person falls asleep at every prayer house each morning.) I'm rather fond of that acronym "P[raise]. R[epent]. A[sk]. Y[ield]."
God, You are greater. I need your forgiveness daily. Take me deeper. I give this to You.
Because You know better than I.
After arriving in Radford and discovering the beauty of community in Chi Alpha, I began underestimating the importance of alone time with God. I began substituting personal devotionals with group services. And while the latter plays an important part in a person's faith journey, it is just that--a part. Not the whole.
A waffle left sitting, soaked in a semi-congealed puddle of syrup, will soon turn into a frumpy, soggy lump. Sort of like a heart gone dormant, a person not being fed. Once I realized my prayers had gone lukewarm, I wasn't sure where to start. If you didn't get to go to a Word and Waffles session or aren't into a steady devotional routine, I hope you will take this lesson and tweak it into your own Bible study time. It really is vital if you want to grow in God. I can say that now, only three days later, God's starting a fire in my prayer life.
Let Him start it in yours.