September is already half-gone, can you believe it?? We’re neck-deep in my series on falling back into a quiet time routine, and this morning I shared with my newsletter subscribers how, exactly, I fell into mine. It’s a topic I also talked about with Mary Marantz, a good friend of mine on Friday afternoon. (Lucky for you, we recorded the conversation for an upcoming episode of her brand new podcast, The Mary Marantz Show!)
She asked me about the days early on, as I fell into my quiet time routine. Those newlywed days when things were good, and life was moving along, and I was comfortably sitting in the “I’ve got this handled” driver’s seat with the cruise control on. How did I not skip a morning or two, or even weeks at a time without a “gosh, life is hard” need for God?
I knew where she was going as she asked the question, and I anticipated how the answer would sound before she finished asking it. Because I never really found myself in the place of “I’ve got this – I don’t need to read.” But here’s the deal: I don’t say that in a pat-myself-on-the-back, “I’ve got this quiet-time thing down” kind of way.
I never found myself in that position because my morning quiet times didn’t start out of obligation. Or because I needed to fulfill the expectation of what a day in the life of a Christian woman looks like.
I started digging deeper into Scripture out of pure curiosity.
When I sat down to meet with God in the morning, and began peeling back the layers of His Word, He met me step for step. That consistent morning routine not only created a habit, it cultivated an excitement to sit down with Him. I couldn’t wait to see what I was going to dig up that day. The dots that I was going to connect the lightbulb that would go off. The more I read, the more I wanted to read.
As my quiet times took off, it didn’t take long for my Bible notes to get out of control. And with so many different directions I could take every single morning, I needed to define a solid, structured routine to keep myself organized. And that’s how I came up with my
To be clear, this system is not a perfect formula by any means, but it works perfectly for me. Most days, I only use bits and pieces of the system. Some days I use all of it. I encourage you to try each of the steps out, find what works for you, and then modify it to adapt a study-Scripture-system of your own!
STEP 1 – Read a Bible Passage
Not even sure where to start reading? Enter Search the Scriptures. (I talked all about it in this morning’s email to subscribers!) It’s my safe-guard against opening my Bible at random and flipping through verses hoping to find something that applies to me. (Because sometimes studying Scripture isn’t about the personal application. Sometimes it’s just for the sake of being in the presence of God.)
STEP 2 – Cross-Reference
After I’ve read my passage for the morning, the first thing that I look for is a cross-reference. I always want Scripture to explain Scripture first, and this often means chasing down a trail of glory through various connected verses. (Spoiler alert: I share with Mary in our upcoming interview about the very first time I discovered a cross-reference on my own. It happened nearly 20 years ago, and I still get full body chills when I recount the story.)
STEP 3 – Lexicon
After looking for cross-references, there are usually words or phrases that resonate with me. (Like the time I read the words “manifold mercy” in the book of Nehemiah and had to find out exactly what they meant.) When that happens, I use the Blue Letter Bible app on my phone to dig a little bit deeper into the meaning behind the original Hebrew and Greek. The BLB app is a wealth of free information but can be overwhelming. If you need some help in learning how to use it, I provide comprehensive instructions in my book, Mercy Like Morning.
STEP 4 – Commentary
If cross-references have been chased and words studied, and I still want more information, the last quiet time resource that I use is a commentary. There is an overwhelming amount of them to choose from, and I usually reference the ones available on Blue Letter Bible, particularly the ones written by Jamieson, Fausset & Brown and Matthew Henry.
STEP 5 – Journal
Throughout my entire quiet time, I am journaling everything. Thoughts. Discoveries. Light-bulb moments. Prayers. My prayer journals are almost as important to me as my Bible is. One is always open and ready when I sit down for my morning quiet time.
That’s it! Easy, peasy, right? I’d love to hear about your experience after you try it! Let me know how you tweaked it to be perfect for you!
Also, I cannot believe that next Monday already marks the end of our September quiet time series! You’ll want to get signed up for the newsletter for that one if you aren’t already. My newsletter subscribers will receive an exclusive FREE one-day Bible study to usher in fall. It’s gonna be good – I promise!
P.S. How dreamy is that fall entry?? It popped up in my Instagram feed the other day (re-posted by @beckiowens, photo by @rachparcell), and now I’m ready to go fill up my entire front porch with pumpkins.
Jane! This is so wonderful! I too am a Blue letter Bible app nerd, haha. I am so thankful for the way you detailed our your quiet time routine in such a simple but thorough way. This is making me so excited to really buckle down into my study of 1 Peter! Thank you!!
I found Mercy Like Morning by total accident almost a year ago— aka God’s perfect timing. I completed the sample studies in the book and then purchased Search the Scriptures. The system I have started follows your recommended steps above and in Mercy Like Morning. I purchased a binder, dividers, and notebook filler paper and write each question and my answer on paper from Search the Scriptures. I’ll look up words that stand out or words I’m unsure of the full definition being used in BLB app. And when I really struggle understanding a verse, I lookup commentaries. I have a separate prayer journal notebook that I keep handy. I usually end with the prayer journal but sometimes I feel the need to confess something or start my quiet time writing out a prayer.
I’m SO looking forward to the Dear Monday 2020 planner!!!
I LOVE this! Thank you for sharing! As someone who is new to reading Scripture and walking in Faith, the daily routines of what people do are always such mysteries and no one ever really elaborates on it. Thank you!! When you cross-reference – what does that mean?
Hey Linda! I know you weren’t asking me, haha. But a cross-reference is when one passage or verse of Scripture references another. So like when in 1 Peter 24, Peter references Isaiah 40:6-8. Jesus does this a lot in the Gospels, quoting the Old Testament. The cross-references are usually listed as footnotes or side notes in your Bible! They’re always worth digging into and can lead to so many connections and insights!
Thank you so much! I appreciate that! 🙂
[…] observational notes on notebook paper. I do the same today with my Search the Scriptures notes (see this post). And then, when I feel the lines start to blur between straight observation and heart-prayer, I […]