Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re determined to spend more time with God praying and reading your Bible, so you wake up early in the morning, brew a cup of coffee, get your Bible, and your journal (maybe a few highlighters or a pen) and start reading, determined to hear from God.
You are ready for a euphoric experience, the way your pastor describes hearing God’s voice, but you soon become discouraged because this experience feels eerily similar to all the other experiences you’ve had before. You’re trying, you really are, but it’s boring, or confusing, or feels irrelevant, or you are too distracted to pay attention for longer than 5 minutes.
I’ve had countless people describe this exact scenario to me. I’ve even experienced it myself more times than I care to admit, but what’s the alternative? Is there anything you can do to guarantee that your time with God feels beneficial, rewarding, or helpful?
Daily Faith + Life uses a simple 3-step approach to help people learn and love the Bible: Read God’s word, Learn God’s Truth, and Listen for God’s Voice. Using this process helps you to be inspired by the Bible but not depend solely on inspiration to gauge effectiveness, because let’s be honest, some days don’t feel inspiring.
So what can you do on days when your time with God doesn’t feel inspired? How can you hear God’s voice, even when it doesn’t feel like he is speaking to you?
German Minister George Mueller, known for his prayer life, had a set of questions he asked after reading the Bible to help him begin praying. These questions are a great way to assess and apply what you read each time.
1. Is There Any Example For Me To Follow?
The stories in the Bible were written to teach us and give us an example to follow. (Romans 15:4). As you read, does anyone do something worth emulating? You probably won’t need to build an ark, but do you need to obey God in the face of peer pressure or criticism? You probably will never slay a giant, but is there an obstacle in your life you have been hiding from? You may feel the need to defend yourself from lies, but should you instead stay silent like Christ when he faced his accusers?
2. Is There A Command For Me To Obey?
It’s easy to feel like you’re supposed to read between the lines of the Bible to find hidden meanings and codes that need to be cracked. In the search for deeper meaning, we can miss the power of the words on the page. The reality is, most of the New Testament can be literally applied to your life right now. As you read, do you see any instructions or commands that you need to act on? Do you need to forgive or love someone who hurt you? Do you need to be more generous towards God with your money? Do you need to confess to a friend?
3. Is There Any Error For Me To Avoid?
There are certain verses and stories in scripture that are loud sirens warning us to avoid danger. As you read, do you notice any cautionary tales or warnings? For example, Samson assumed he could always control his sin until it was too late. Do you assume the same thing? The Apostle Paul warned Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because of his young age? Have you been discounting yourself because of your age?
4. Is There Any Sin For Me To Forsake?
The Bible “exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (2 Timothy 4:12), which means that while you read the Bible, the Bible is reading you, convicting you of the things in your life that pull you away from God. As you read, does any sin come to mind that you need to repent and turn from?
5. Is There Any Promise For Me To Claim?
The Bible is filled with as many as 7487 promises. While you can’t copy and paste every promise for your life, so many of the promises in the Bible are available to anyone who has placed their faith in Jesus. As you read, are there any promises that you can stop and pray about? I have a habit of circling certain promises I come across, Like “The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalm 84:11) Then I will stop and pray, “God, help me to do what is right, so I can experience all the good things you have for me.”
6. Is There Any New Thought About God?
The Bible is not like other books you read. It is “living, breathing, and active” which explains why you can read something you’ve read 100 times before but notice something different this time and wonder, “How have I never seen that?” As you read, is there something you never knew before? Is it something you could stop and thank God for?
Yes, occasionally a Bible will fall off a bookshelf to a particular verse. And yes, some days your time with God will feel incredibly supernatural, and you will be certain that you heard from God. Most days, though, it’s the routine of time with God, and the practical application of the verses you read that will allow you to experience his presence and guidance.