It is a new year and a perfect time for refreshing commitments to our quiet time with the Lord. Relationships are a top priority; however, as John Mark Comer says, “relational time is wildly inefficient.” I’ve shared a Bible reading plan to get through most of the Bible in a year, but today I want to share some resources to help you guide your family into a deeper relationship through Bible Study and Prayer.
My dad encouraged me to read God's Word when I was a little girl. His careful shepherding in this discipline has been the greatest gift I've ever received. I've updated the tools he gave me so I can share them with you! I highlighted four practices for digging into God’s Word and four tools to guide your prayer time.
I’ve also created a color version for those who need color in their life and a black-and-white version to save on printer ink. You can add color to your pages with fun pens 🙂. So read on for more explanation, or get your freebie here:
4 Practices for Refreshing Your Bible Study
1. Daily Refreshment - 7up Bible Study Plan
My dad shared this simple tool with me when I was young. It’s an excellent way for young people to practice spending time with the Lord. It lays out a seven-minute practice like this:
- ½ minute praying for guidance
- 4 minutes reading a short passage
- 2 ½ minutes praying and meditating on the passage
- = 7 minutes
The worksheet includes a list of questions to help with that final prayer and meditation section, but you don’t have to answer all of the questions. Sometimes writing things down allows you to focus. Keeping a log can also be a tangible way to track your time with the Lord.
It’s not just good for kids, though. My dad started his faith journey as a struggling reader. Spending time reading God’s Word challenged him, and this tool gave him a simple way to start building a relationship with God. It was a great way to start.
2. Quiet Time Sheet
That little 7-up refreshment created a hunger and thirst in my dad for God’s Word. He took every opportunity he could to encourage people to spend time reading their Bibles. He created a “Quiet Time” sheet to teach his 6th grade Sunday school class the joy of soaking in the Word.
The true brilliance of this sheet wasn’t so much in the questions or the method but in the relationship that my dad built with the students he encouraged. Every week they turned in their Quiet Time sheet with the hope of getting $25 if they could read their Bible at least five days a week for twelve weeks straight.
My dad took his red pen and marked encouragements all over their Quiet Time sheets. His thoughtful attention to their observations on the passages they read gave them a beautiful picture of how this simple practice builds relationships.
I love this tool because it doesn’t take a lot of time and doesn’t require a lot of reading or writing. You can read a further explanation of how my dad led students to develop a practice of spending time with the Lord.
3. Garland of Four Strands
Martin Luther wrote a letter to his friend outlining a method of praying through God’s Word. He uses the Lord’s Prayer as an example. It’s similar to the concept Donald Whitney presents in Praying the Bible.
You start with identifying the instructions laid out in the passage. Then you ask, “What can I thank God for in response to this verse.” Next, you respond in confession for yourself, our country, or the world. Then your heart is softened to be ready for petition, asking God for help.
What I love about this practice is how it feels like a contemplative conversation. God speaks, then you thank Him for what He said, recognize where you’ve fallen short, and seek His guidance for help.
It can be as slow or quick as you like. If you haven’t tried something like this before, it could bring a fresh wind to your times with the Lord.
4. Lectio Divina
Andy introduced me to this practice he learned in college. He explained: “The Lectio Divina is a method early Christians practiced to prayerfully read through scripture. It provided a way for men and women of faith to talk honestly to God, to process emotions, and to find comfort in the arms of their Lord.”
This method slows your heart and mind down beautifully to soak in the Word. In the Lectio Divina, readers walk through five steps as they consider a passage of scripture:
- Silentio (silence) - Approach the Word of God with a stilled heart and mind.
- Lectio (reading) - Read the passage very slowly, and read each word aloud if you can.
- Meditatio (meditating) - Reread the passage. Let your mind linger on the words.
- Oratio (praying) - Read the passage one more time. Pray through this passage, and tell God what comes to mind.
- Contemplatio (contemplation) - Once you have finished praying, sit for a minute in silence. Take a breath, and ask God how you might respond to this passage. (and Andy adds the sixth step)
- Scriptito (writing) - Write a little about your time with God, or tell someone about it.
This method is even more enhanced when you can practice it in the stillness of the morning out in nature. It is not something I do every day, but I enjoy using the Lectio Divina for times when I really need to slow down.
4 Prayer Practices
The last two Bible study practices involved a healthy mix of study and prayer, but now I’m going to shift to sharing some tools to help focus your prayer life. My mother is a prayer warrior. All of my life, she has faithfully prayed for her family, friends, and neighbors. She’s great about writing down prayer requests and remembering to ask others about them when she sees them again. Here are some tools that she shared with me:
1. The A.C.T.S. Prayer
This is a simple prayer acronym that helps guide your prayer time. It’s very similar to the Garland of Four Strands, but it is not connected to a particular scripture, so it frees the one praying to come before God however they feel led.
A - Adoration - Praise God for Who He Is
This is a great opportunity to pray God’s Word back to him. Let the scriptures guide you in adoring God:
- Psalm 7:11 - God is a righteous judge
- Psalm 68:20 - He is a God who saves
- Exodus 15:11 - He is majestic in holiness and awesome in glory
- Romans 8:33 - God justifies
- Ephesians 2:4 - God is rich in mercy and has a great love for us
- Philippians 2:13 - God works in us to fulfill his good purposes
- Job 36:22 - God is exalted in his power
- Psalm 54:4 - the Lord is the one who sustains me
- 1 Corinthians 1:9 - God is faithful
- 2 Thessalonians 1:6 - God is just
- Revelation 1:8 - He’s the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end
- Psalm 55:19 - God does not change
- Deuteronomy 10:17 - God shows no partiality and accepts no bribes
- Deuteronomy 7:21 - God is a great and awesome God
- Proverbs 30:5 - Every word of God is flawless
And we could go on! Faith is built by believing that what God says about Himself is true—that He really is who He says He is! What better way to remind yourself of that than a time of recounting what He’s revealed about Himself in His Word.
C - Confession - Admit your sin
Sometimes this one is challenging because it is really hard to acknowledge sins. But this might be one of the most important practices as it opens the doorway to relationship. If we don’t have a need for a savior because we’re perfect all the time, we limit that relationship.
And scripture has a lot to say about confession. Look at all of these verses that discuss confession:
- James 5:16 - Confess your sins to one another
- 1 John 1:9 - If we confess, He will forgive
- Matthew 3:6 - Confession before baptism
- Proverbs 28:13 - Whoever confesses their sins finds mercy
- Psalms 32:5 - David confessed his sin and God forgave his guilt
- Daniel 9:20 - Daniel confessed his sins as well as those of his people
- Ezra 10:1 - Ezra led the people in confessing their sins
- Nehemiah 1:6 - Nehemiah confessed his sins, the peoples’ sins, and the previous generation’s sins
All of these amazing men of faith were consistently coming before the Lord with the truth of their need for mercy, and God faithfully forgave them. We would do well to follow their example.
T - Thanksgiving
What a joy to shift into thanksgiving after a time in confession. It’s easy to become discouraged when you see your true need, but God is so good that you can’t dwell on that disappointment for long. Shifting over to a time of giving thanks really softens your heart to the goodness of God.
- Psalm 107:1 - Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"
- Psalm 7:17 - "I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High."
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 - "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
- Philippians 4:6 - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
- Colossians 3:15 - "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful."
There is so much to be thankful for, and thanksgiving should be a part of everything we do.
S - Supplication - Make Requests
After you’ve taken the time to align your heart with the Lord, that is, to have a right view of Him (adoration), a right view of yourself (confession), and a right response to that relationship (thanksgiving), now you’re ready to make requests. So often we just jump right into supplication and often that is when our requests are not in line with the things of God.
When you take the time to get in sync with God, your requests become His requests which He loves to honor.
2. Prayer Request Log
This leads me to the next tool: the prayer request log. How often have you said you’d pray for someone and then totally forgotten? I have done this so many times. My intentions are pure, but my practice is undisciplined. Simply having a place to write down requests makes a huge difference.
My mom is so diligent with this practice. She faithfully writes down prayer requests and follows up with the person to see how God worked in their situation. This allows her to celebrate answered prayers as well as continue to faithfully bring unanswered prayers to the Lord.
3. My Prayer List
The next tool is a simple place to brain dump. Just gather all of your prayer ideas to ensure that you remember to pray for those you desire to pray for.
You could also use this as a prayer guide. What ideas or verses do you want to pray over your family or friends? Your church or missionaries you support? What about the nations?
Having a guide allows focus and consistency in prayer, which will help you carry out the vision for your relationships.
Here are some helpful resources in guiding your vision for praying over the people in your life:
- 8 Prayer Points for the Family
- 10 Scriptures to Pray over your Family
- 18 Things to Pray for Your Church
- How to Pray for Missionaries
- Guides for Praying for Unreached People Groups
4. Weekly Prayer Guide
As you realize how much you could be bringing before the Lord in prayer, the time required to accomplish this task can get daunting. So I have one last tool for you: the weekly prayer guide.
You can use this prayer guide in one of two ways:
- Take your list from your brain dump before and distribute them throughout the week. Then each day you can focus your prayer time on the section of friends and family you’ve designated.
- Create a theme or a verse of the day for each day of the week. On that day, you can pray that verse over all of those on your prayer list. Then throughout the day, as God brings someone to mind, you can continue to pray that theme or verse over them.
Refreshment for the New Year
There are a lot of practices I’ve shared that you could incorporate into your life as you seek to deepen your walk with the Lord. Please remember that these are meant to be refreshing. Don’t try to do them all or fear that you’re not doing them perfectly. That isn’t my goal or desire in sharing these tools with you. My heart is that you might be rooted and established in your faith as you spend time with God in His Word.
So if you haven’t already grabbed your free Bible Study and Prayer Journal printable, make sure to get them here:
Blessings on your journey!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.