Three key elements make up a nutritious spiritual breakfast: proper preparation, a collection of the right ingredients, and a simple recipe.
What’s the first step to following a recipe? Before you bake a cake or make a stir-fry, you pull out your ingredients and set them on the counter. That way when you suddenly realize you’re out of baking soda or some other essential ingredient, you can stop and make a quick run to the store before getting to a critical step in the process.
So what ingredients do you need to study the Bible? Truthfully, all you need is . . . a Bible. I hope that by the end of this 30 day series, you may even be more comfortable with the Bible alone.
But I’d like to just share with you some of my favorite ingredients for a successful study time.First, I collect my ingredients in a tote bag. I have my eye on a cute new one for Christmas, but for now the bag I have does the job of keeping everything in one place. In my tote I keep:
- My Bible (New Living Translation)
- My journal and a special pen
- A spiral notebook for jotting down the barrage of unrelated thoughts that try to sabotage my quiet times. Sometimes the best way to silence a noisy to-do list is to commit it to paper so I can ignore it.
- A packet of blank greeting cards. Often a friend will come to mind as I read a particular verse, and I can just jot down a note to her while I say a prayer for her. As a side note, I have also begun to keep a book of stamps in my address folder so I can get that note out the same day.
- Headphones. Yep, the kind you wear to keep out noise, not the kind that put more noise in your head. It’s amazing how much more easily I can focus the moment I put those headphones on my head.
- Sometimes I also have a piece or two of chocolate in there, because a bite of creamy goodness releases the endorphins and propels me to a different spiritual plane. In case you are wondering, Dark Chocolate Dove Promises are my happy bites of choice.
This week I have a few new additions to my ingredients tote:
- The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. This book has been sitting on my shelf almost half my life, and I just finally opened it a month ago. What a treasure I have found in its pages, encouraging me to seek God's presence in every moment.
- 199 Treasures of Wisdom on Talking with God, compiled from the writings of Andrew Murray. If I get stuck or need a kick in the right direction, I can pull out either of these slim books celebrating the Christian life.
- God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us, by L. L. Barkat. I am very excited about this 12-week course gently encouraging spiritual discipline in a manner a bit more approachable than Richard Foster or Oswald Chambers (who also offer excellent, though challenging, writings on the Christian life). I have just managed to read the first chapter so far, but will be sharing more with you as I get into it further. Discipline is one of my key growth areas at the moment.
When I sit down for quiet time with my special tote bag, I can eliminate most reasons I might encounter to get up and look for something. If your life is anything like mine, sitting down for quiet time is challenging enough the first time, without having to get up for a pen and run interference through the household with the hope I can get back to my chair while all the plates are still spinning.
You have been patient this week as I get my stride, building a bit of foundation before actually discussing “how-to” read the Bible at all. Tomorrow we finally get a look at a simple recipe to crack the book open, breakfast style.
Do you have an ingredient collection?I have found two new friends online who discuss theirs. You might enjoy reading their posts for further ideas.
Jennifer Dukes Lee, discussing her Tent and Altar at Getting Down With Jesus.
Gordon Atkinson, posting about his Lenten Satchel at The High Calling.
To read more posts in this series, click the tag Unlock the Bible.