Questions and Thanks -Day 3

In an effort to make this more genuine I realize I need more info.  Who better to ask than my blog followers who I imagine are mostly Christians.

So where does one find the time to read the Bible everyday?

I guess it is a priority thing and probably a habit to read the Bible everyday.  I am just not getting to it. I did read the first day but the last 2 I haven’t read anything.  I feel like I have already let myself down – but I will just try to make it up today and tomorrow.

Same goes for prayer.  When are the times you pray?  Do you have a set time like before meals, before bed, or just when the mood strikes you?

I know a prayer does not have to be a long winded dissertation to the lord but even just remembering doesn’t seem to be happening for me.

What type of activities do you participate in with your church?   What type of religious things do you do with your family outside of Sunday services?  I know LDS does Family Home Evenings typically Monday nights- but do other religions do something like this?

As for thanks.  I really do want to thank everyone who has followed my blog already and also my friends, both Christian and Atheists who are not only supporting me but sharing the blog with your friends.

A special thanks to Kelly for suggesting this thing.  Your little post has seriously shaken things up for me in a good way. 🙂

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21 thoughts on “Questions and Thanks -Day 3

  1. First I’d like to say I’m really excited about what you are doing, no matter what the outcome of it all, it is also a learning experience for me too to see your opinions and thoughts on Christianity. As for reading the Bible and praying, I try to read a chapter or so every night before I go to bed just because it is the best time for me. But it really depends on when you feel you have the most “free time” to sit down and concentrate on it (I put that in quotes because I know the thought, “yeah right, free time? as if!”). For some people that is first thing in the morning and others its while you eat lunch. As for praying, I just pray throughout the day. I want God to be a part of my daily walk through all life and not just at certain times in my day. It may be a prayer to get me through a stressful moment or when I hear of someone’s troubles, to thank Him for something great, or just kinda whenever I feel I’m burnt out and need some extra strength or wisdom. Hope that helps!

  2. First, I think it’s an awesome thing that you are attempting to do. And it’s also not necessarily going to be easy. I look forward to reading your posts and see where this takes you.

    Here’s my recommendations:

    I see that you have a KJV Bible listed in what you are reading. PLEASE DO NOT READ THE KJV. I know some Christians absolutely love it but the translation is horrible and newer translations today are much more accurate to the original spirit of the text. Try NIV (probably the best translated but still has some issues). An easy way to read the Bible is to use The Message (it’s very paraphrased but this is my recommendation when people are struggling reading).

    Check out http://www.youversion.com and sign up for a 30 day reading plan that you find interesting. I would suggest not tackling the OT. If you do I would recommend Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel. At YouVersion you can get all of the translations. At YouVersion you can read people’s notes about the Bible which I often find interesting and enlightening.

    When to read? Most Christ-followers (including myself) struggle to read daily and have quiet time. It gets more difficult with a job and kids. But it’s the quiet time that God often shows up (your atheist friends are laughing at that comment right now LOL). For me, I try and have my time with God when I’m driving to work. It’s not quiet time but it’s my way. I read the Bible when I can each day. It’s better to have a specific time to do this but it’s just difficult for me. Because I read YouVersion, I have their app on my phone so I can read it wherever.

    Prayer – people have a tendency to think that prayer is bowing your head and saying something to God and concluding with amen, and I don’t believe that’s the case. Simply having a conversation with God in the car, or listening to Christian music is a way to commune with God. Too many Christians get hung up on the “legalistic” approach of doing things. Prayer is a combination of habit and when the need strikes me.

    Outside of Sunday services – my wife and I try and pray with our kids each night and have them do a prayer at dinner. Doesn’t always happen but that’s okay (again, legalism). We also do a devotional with both kids. My wife is involved in several groups, and I teach a class Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.

    Regarding your church selection – good choice going to a “blue jeans” church that is non-denominational. Even though it may feel like you’re back in school again, I think you will find that approach refreshing and will have more application.

    BTW – don’t beat yourself up if you get behind or don’t feel like you’re tackling this experiment right. What matters is that you are attempting to try it with an open-mind and heart.

  3. The picture is great by the way.

    Reading the Bible… Yes, it’s a priority and a habit. If it’s important to you, then you do it. It’s best if you get a good study Bible so that you can make some sense out of it until you learn more about how things go and why. Bear in mind that just as most people with a rudimentary education in math aren’t going to pickup a textbook on physics and grasp it all at once, people with little or no knowledge of Christianity aren’t going to immediately grasp the whole Bible either.

  4. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) tells us, “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (That is the book of 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, verses 16-18, New Internation Version of the Bible)

    As for prayer, Matthew 6:7 tells us “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” I usually talk to God just as I would to another person, but there are times when I worship, that my prayer takes on a different tone, one of awe and reverence.

  5. Hi Dy-Anne,

    I love the adventure you are on! Thanks for sharing it as you are, and being open and honest about it all.

    Thanks for taking the risk of interacting with Christians. I hope people don’t come on too strong and get preachy or pushy with you. I hope you don’t experience anything that is a turn off. I will try to be careful on both points.

    Welcome to the dilemma of MANY (most?) Christians! In part, certainly it is about priorities, and as you have eluded to already, if this God is so important to me, then He ought to have a priority in my life. So, we struggle against the easy tendency to stay up late, watch TV, sleep in, etc., and NOT make the time to read the Bible and pray. (We are NOT perfect, but are glad to at least know we are forgiven! And usually, we are simply TRYING to get better/act better.)

    One of the truths I hope you eventually discover and read in the Bible is that the wonderful truth about the grace of God. Part of the biblical understanding of Grace is that God works from within us, His Spirit affecting our spirit, and in doing so, purposes to affect our desires, and then our abilities to carry those new/better desires out. First, God does NOT make us robots…He wants us to WANT the relationship with Him, and the help from Him that He offers. So, while He draws us towards Him, He does not force. While He offers help, He does not force.

    It was a wonderful discovery for me that He was working with me and in me. These disciplines of life, then, became easier, first because I was becoming aware of His love and this love relationship, and so wanted to the time with Him. And, I found Him working to get me there, and then bless me in the time we shared.

    I know this…when I respond and come, with an open heart to our time together, and ask Him to help me read, help me understand/discover something new, and help me to pray better, He did. AND, my days are ALWAYS better when I have that time with Him early and through the day. I still face LIFE and its issues and problems, but I am NEVER alone, I have discovered He is actively at work, even when I don’t know it, and that with Him I can have an incredible peace in the midst of it all.

    You have to imagine that for me/us (Christians) is is very real, and is ‘like’ a human relationship of GREAT love (though certainly not exactly!). You WANT to be with them, you make opportunity to be with them, you enjoy time with them, and you are filled and refreshed and benefited having been with them. Very much the same with my God…Father, Son, and Spirit.

    Hope that wasn’t too long!!!

  6. Prayer and Bible reading are both habits that it takes time an disciple to devope. It’ like brushing teeth: kids are born knowing how to do this and it takes practice to make it a habit. And it takes effort to make the time to do it. Eventually it can become a ‘habit’ but it takes effort. Sometimes I only read one verse. Sometime I read a chapter or more. Sometimes I don’t read at all. Same for prayer – though I personally have not really (for better or worse) developed a “daily prayer time” where I pray about things. I guess I am more of a ‘pray as you go’ person, rather than a subscriber to a long term plan. 😉
    You said, “I feel like I have already let myself down – but I will just try to make it up today and tomorrow.” If we are honest with ourselves, many believers struggle with this too. It really about me and MY expectations and less about what God expects. Since God expects me to Love him and Love my neighbor, anything else is a bonus, as I see it. I have tried to “make up” reading before and I find it useless. I just so the best I can on the day I am on. But I am also REALLY bad at those “read the bible in a year” plans, though I have read the whole thing more than a couple times over the years.

    As for outside activities, it varies by person and desire. LDS is more rigid about certain expectations and participation than churches I’ve attended. I attend on Sundays (which is when our service is) and then on Wednesday where I help lead youth group. Outside of my church I attend a faith-based mom’s group called MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) a couple times a month. I also do other women’s events at this church (not my Sunday church) because my church is a bit far and doesn’t offer these events. And my friends are there. That’s the #1 reason I go to there.

    In our family we pray together before dinner (just a quick prayer) and we read the Bible to our kids/pray with them before bedtime. At various time (with no rigid schedule) we talk about spiritual/religious things – kind of an as they come up, as we want to. Like on Sundays I like to talk to the family about their thoughts on what was talked about in their various classes. At other times we’ve done weekly “devotions” with our older kids in the evenings but we find this challenging as 3 of 4 people have ADHD and at the end of the day meds are worn off and focusing is hard. >_<

    Personally, I am trying to be LESS church focused in activity because I want to be with people who AREN'T the same as me. At this point in my life I would rather be involved in my community and making a difference at my kid's school than I would attending bible study every day of the week.

    BTW, I could not recommend more NOT reading the KJV. Who talks like that? Nobody. Why read something that isn't in our own language? The NIV is a very good translation, or if you prefer, the New KJV – in modern language.

  7. One other thing. There are a lot of ‘flavors’ of Christians, aren’t there? Are there as many ‘flavors’ of Atheists? I mean, it’s not like there are denominations or organized-hierarchical groups, right? Do atheists get together to have non-bible studies?

    • Actually there is a group that sends out Atheist bible study – I have never read them though.
      There are many flavors of Atheists because we are definitely a diverse people. Some would actually consider themselves Anti-theists (they think that religion is dangerous and hurtful), the other end is agnostics who just aren’t sure and though not technically atheists because they believe in the possibility they are grouped with atheists.
      I Tend to believe that atheists are more diverse because there is not doctrine or dogma. The only thing we all have in common is the lack of a belief in god. That lack of belief doesn’t guide individual choices or other beliefs and most atheists still have some other different beliefs like ghosts or past lives.

  8. Hello,

    I saw your blog link on one of my FB friend’s posts and am glad I did. Your experiment is extremely interesting, and I’ll be following it closely. You are in my prayers.

    You asked about finding time to pray and read the Bible, etc. I’ll just share some thoughts with you. Others who have written have given excellent advice.

    I, too, would suggest staying away from the King James Version and recommend the NIV. Not that the KJV isn’t good – it is. It’s just not written in modern-day language. I think you’ll find that the NIV is far from eloquent, but it’s much easier to understand and is a good translation. And I think the key word here is “translation,” as opposed to a paraphrase. If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God (and I do), then it seems important to know the exact words that were written by God’s stenographers, so to speak.

    Like others in this ultra-active world, I sometimes struggle with maintaining a daily reading of the Bible. So, not to be legalistic (as another mentioned), I now try to read or study it three times a week outside of formal worship services or Bible studies. This means that I don’t beat myself up about it if I don’t do it every single day; I just try to make it part of my regular routine as much as possible – like walking or strength training. Since I’m a “night person,” I try to ready/study then, usually after 10 p.m. when it’s time to wind down. Some of my friends study in the morning, but just as I will never go for a walk in the morning, I know that this time would not be for me. We all have to find out what works for us.

    As for praying, since I am now retired, I often lie in bed in the morning and pray after I wake up. I do the same thing when I go to bed at night and also pray off and on throughout the day. I try to make sure that I send up prayers of thanksgiving as well as prayers of supplication b/c, after all, we shouldn’t try to make God a big Santa Claus, as Bill Maher once claimed that Christians do.

    Concerning activities with the church outside of Sunday’s formal worship services and Wednesday night Bible studies: Some of us usually go out to eat together after services each Sunday morning. We’re a small, close congregation, and sometimes people do all sorts of fun things together – for example, multiple couples are now at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Marfa, Texas (!), which is 12 hours away from our city in Louisiana. Not for me, but they love it.

    Personally, about a year ago I started going to a non-denominational Bible study each Wednesday morning called Bible Study Fellowship. It was recommended by a friend who has been a Christian only about five years. This group meets 30 miles away, but it’s well worth the trip and time. Having this type of study has helped me to be more devoted to reading and studying throughout the week. I’ve been a Christian since I was 12 years old (although I backslid badly for several years), but I am learning SO much from this in-depth study. There are BSF groups all over the world.

    Several years ago, my husband of 19 years, who was not a Christian at the time, began reading books and studying to try to “find God.” Together, we read Lee Strobel’s “A Case for the Creator” and “A Case for Christ” (there are other books in the series, such as “A Case for Faith” and “A Case for Easter”). Strobel was an atheist journalist/lawyer who set out to prove there was no God and ended up becoming a Christian. My husband and I both found his books fascinating. We also read through the whole New Testament except we lack a few chapters in Revelation. Like another commenter, I would recommend that you start in the New Testament, perhaps with Mark and then John, then go to Acts, then Romans, and then maybe Genesis and Exodus. Mark is a short, active book; John gives some ideas and thoughts about Jesus that the other gospels don’t include; Acts shows the foundation of the church; Romans deals with the war between the flesh and the spirit; and the events in Genesis and Exodus form the basis of Judeo-Christian worldviews. If you’ve already read Mark, John and Romans, you’ll begin to see how Jesus fits into the overarching story of God’s activity in the world. (BTW, I am not a Bible scholar and don’t want to sound like I “know it all.” Someone had recommended part of this approach to me and my husband earlier, and I just re-looked it up on the Web.)

    Just one more thing, and then I’ll go. I know I’ve written a lot!

    I love the original creation scene from the Sistine Chapel. To me, what it shows is that while Adam (or you or me) reaches out toward God, God is reaching even harder toward YOU. Even though right now you are putting forth energy to look toward God, he is reaching out even further to touch YOU.

    – Sallie

  9. The Message Bible is easy to read, as is the Amplified – I prefer the Amplified. As for finding time to read it, for you to be totally committed and immersing yourself into Christianity, you will just have to find time. I read a bit with my coffee every morning on the patio before anyone else is up, and often times when I have a question about something I have read or heard. You can download many versions of the Bible onto your phone as well. Also a Strongs Concordance (expensive but well worth the money) will help you find whatever answer you are looking for in reference to the Bible, and it is way easy to understand.

    Prayer should be a part of everyday, nothing formal, just talk to HIM…just like you would your own father. He is after all the Father…personally I pray all the time, when I get up, when I hear someone needs something, is sick, hurting etc…and I try to remember to pray before meals (not very successful at that though).

    As for activities – well you could ask at the church if there is a ministry they need help in, many churches offer Wednesday services as well as Sunday, and many also have small groups/home groups throughout the week to get involved in. (Love home groups )

    I wish you the best in this, however, I have to be honest and admit I really think you are looking for a way to justify your non belief then to learn – but Im not you and I dont know you, so Im just leery I guess.

  10. Reading the Bible is something that I do before bed because that is the only time that I make for myself. That is actually a shortcoming of mine because I don’t read it every day either.
    We don’t currently participate in any activities outside of church but our church has ilife groups which are small groups of people with like interests that can get together for weekly meetings and fellowship. I do however volunteer one Sunday per month at church doing hospitality service.As far as praying goes it is something that comes naturally any time day or night. Sometimes I get news mid-day and I’ll just stop what I’m doing and close my eyes and pray. I mostly pray as I am laying down to sleep. I just talk to God about anything in my life that I am worried or stressed about including people’s health and safety. I also pray for strength if I feel I am weak in a certain area of my life at that time. If I need guidance and help with a decision I’ll ask for a sign from him to help me make my choice.

  11. I am enjoying following your experiment.Personally I love the KJV… It is the most poetic and beautiful. .. as an artist it is my FAVORITE. The bible however is a spiritual book. If you want to feel like reading it tomorrow say a prayer before you read it today! Try finding a Psalm you like and asking God to open your heart and mind- then read. I sometimes stay in the same Psalms for a week.
    As for activities. I use the gift God gave me as an artist to work with troubled teens. As far as praying:Often I pick one verse of a Psalms and pray it back to God and ask him a question about it. EXAMPLE; (PS 103:1.. Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his Holy name…) ME: “God, how can I be a blessing today? Is there anything in me that you could use to help another have a blessing?”

  12. Im not a Christian, but I do believe in a god. I pray regularly, though not very specifically. I remember to pray because prayer is reaching out to a power greater than yourself, so whenever it would be nice to have some help you take that second to try to believe and if you can do that you turn it over to that god. May e it takes you 10 seconds.
    I also participate it morning mediations. This involves reading a thought for the day and redirecting my thoughts so that I will not try to control what I can’t control that day.
    It all takes maybe 15 minutes and it’s a nice time to be still and have my morning coffee. It’s easier to make time for this than say….going for a run.

    Im really enjoying that you’re doing this. If I were move brave I might try it myself, but way to take one for the team.

  13. I like the idea of meditating on something instead of thinking you have to read so many chapters/verses per day in order to keep on track. The latter seems so legalistic although I realize this is a time-sensitive project so you have to perform so many “Christian deeds” in a short period of time. Some days you won’t have as much time (or want to devote the time) to reading much. How about then you read a passage and then think about it as you wash dishes, drive to work or make supper? As one person wrote, you can ask “how can I be a blessing to someone?” or “how can I apply this teaching to my life?” or “what is God trying to teach by this passage?” “What message is there for humanity?”

    What part of the Bible have you been reading? I love the book of Luke especially chapter 15. Also Philippians is a great little book especially chapter 4 verses 4-9. Lots of good stuff to meditate on in that short passage!

  14. You’ve taken on an interesting journey!

    “So where does one find the time to read the Bible everyday?”

    I do find that first thing in the morning works best for me, with a cup of coffee in hand. Not the LDS way, right? But, really anytime during the day that you can grab 15-30 minutes works. Honestly, if you have a commute to work, put the Bible on your ipod and listen to it on the way to work. My recommendation for this would be the book of Mark as it’s full of action, tracks Jesus’ life chronologically, and is not too difficult to follow by listening.

    If you’d like a reading plan that tracks the key events of Jesus through his life up to the cross, I have a plan available here: http://www.cindyfinley.com/2012/02/what-do-you-hope-to-gain-over-these.html

    If you’d like to see what I recommend for a 15-minute daily time of Bible reading, that’s here: http://www.cindyfinley.com/p/basic-simple-straightforward-quiet-time.html

    “Do you have a set time like before meals, before bed, or just when the mood strikes you?”

    Yes, yes, and yes. I pray before I start reading my Bible, with my family at meals, and before I go to bed at night. I pray as I’m reading my Bible, and I pray through my day. The intentional times are important to me, but I am in and out of conversation with God throughout the day.

    “What type of activities do you participate in with your church? What type of religious things do you do with your family outside of Sunday services?”

    We go to church on Sunday morning and then are with our church for whatever events we want to go to through the week. I wouldn’t consider our family “religious” and we don’t participate in “religious” activities, but in activities that match with who we are as a family and as individuals. We are currently reading “Amon’s Adventure” (http://www.jothamsjourney.com/node/6) as a family. We spend time with friends and family.

    Take care, and let us know how this Sunday goes for you!

  15. Actually, if you’re going for solidly Christian, they have that book “the purpose driven life” that is formatted to be read in 40 days and is adequately full of bible verses and Christian teaching.

  16. I thought of you this morning at my church – because the entire worship team wore jeans. And so did three of the pastors (that I’ve seen so far). O_O

      • Actually, I’ve found your thought and comments on jeans in church really challenging. I’ve thought about it all through the service as well as all day, and here is why: I was pretty bold and brazen in saying that there is no dress code for believers and ‘who cares if you wear jeans’? But then while I was in church, I saw a guy across the aisle from me who’s hair was sticking up. And I don’t mean he styled it that way. I mean that it looked like he’d just rolled out of bed 5 minutes before. First thing I thought of when I saw that? “wow, he couldn’t even be bothered to do his hair before church.” How ugly was that? I might as well have been standing at the door as dress code enforcement for just how hypocritical my attitude was.

        My next immediate thought was to recall what I’d said to you on “day 2”: “I didn’t grow up with people who dressed up a lot – and personally find it disingenuous for someone to dress up if their own attitudes are ‘ugly’ inside.” Who is ugly on the inside? Apparently me. So much for celebrating that people have different opinions on what ‘dressed up’ is. I apparently have different opinions on just how much ‘dressing down’ is allowed.

        So why I am I telling you? Because you were the one who challenged my thoughts and because you seem to be endeavoring to be honest with us about your experience. I felt that I needed to be the same back.

  17. Praying and reading the Bible daily is HARD (for me). I am not a morning person, so morning doesn’t work for me. If I sat in my comfy chair and tried to pray and read the Bible right after I woke up, I’d fall asleep again! Before getting married and having kids, I did my daily devotions before going to bed. That was my favorite! It always helped me to relax and fall asleep quickly and peacefully. Now, I do my devotions (most days) after my kids go down for a nap. I read a chapter in whatever book of the Bible I happen to be reading and usually a few psalms. Sometimes I’ll read a devotional (like Our Daily Bread). Sometimes I’ll also journal my thoughts/prayers (something that is bothering me, something I am thankful for, something I feel God is showing me…etc.).

    I am enjoying reading your blog through this journey. 🙂

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