Tuesday, March 27, 2007

6 ways to help you develop cravings for God's Word.

personal/ministry resource

Just Gotta Have It!
6 ways to help you develop cravings for God's Word.
By Katrina Baker

My kitchen was a mess. I'd dug through every drawer and cupboard,
searching for the only thing that would satisfy me…chocolate! I was in
the middle of a full-blown craving. You know the feeling: that
insatiable, overwhelming desire for ice cream, chips, chocolate, or

Only a few days after I'd torn my kitchen apart in search of
chocolate, I came across a Bible verse that drew me up short: "Like
newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk" (1 Peter 2:2). The New
American Standard Version puts it this way: "long for the…word" (both
emphases mine). As I thought about my desire for God's Word, I had to
admit "craving" or "longing" didn't define my feelings about my
current Bible reading. Yes, I tried to do it daily, but some days
reading God's Word was more mechanical than marvelous, more out of
duty than desire.

Looking back over my life, I realized my desire for God's Word had
fluctuated between the following degrees:

Some days, reading God's Word was more mechanical than marvelous,
more out of duty than desire.

Having an insatiable appetite. I'd eagerly anticipate reading God's
Word daily, and make time for it no matter what else was going on. I
couldn't get to sleep at night if I missed it.

Eating my veggies. This is the mode in which I most often found
myself. I'd read the Bible because I knew it's right, I wanted to obey
God, I knew it's good for me, and I was always glad I did it.

Being "force-fed." In this mode, I'd hear God's Word at church, and
would read the Bible every now and then—but usually not until I felt
extremely guilty about my lack of time with him.

Starving. These have been the dry spells, thankfully few, when I've
gone weeks without opening my Bible except at church. I've let
busyness, distractions, or unconfessed sin get in the way.

Do you see yourself in the above descriptions? If you're like me,
you've experienced each of these stages over the course of your walk
with God. But you also wish that you genuinely and consistently craved
God's Word.

If my cravings for Scripture were anything like my cravings for
chocolate, I would just have to have it. I wanted to wake up in the
morning and not be able to focus on anything else until I'd spent time
in God's Word. I wanted to dig in voraciously, instead of doing a
half-hearted devotional.

To discover how to develop a craving for Scripture, I looked back at
the high points of my spiritual life—the times when I couldn't get
enough of God's Word—and took note of the things I did, the habits I
made, and the factors that contributed to the craving. Then I asked
other women what helped them develop a craving for God's Word. Here
are six things I discovered that can help you rekindle or strengthen
your desire for time in Scripture:

1. Remember the Bible's benefits.
After my son's birth, I experienced a prolonged case of "baby blues."
Although I found some solace in talking to other moms, journaling, and
scheduling "me-time," I found the most significant source of peace and
comfort in God's Word. I found particular reassurance in reading the
Psalms—seeing how David cried out in fear, confusion, and even
despair, but consistently returned to acknowledge God as his refuge
and strength.

At other times, I've turned to Scripture to find direction, wisdom,
and encouragement. The Bible holds all this for us, and much more!
Scripture tells us God's Word is "a lamp to [our] feet and a light for
[our] path" (Psalm 119:105). Psalm 111:10 also reminds us "The fear of
the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have
good understanding."

Just as satisfying physical craving releases feel-good chemicals in
our brains, satisfying a hunger for Scripture releases all kinds of
spiritual benefits and blessings in our lives, such as increased
wisdom, comfort, and peace.

2. Ask God to give you desire for his Word.
What better way to obtain a desire for God's Word than from God
himself? Each day, ask God to give you a deep-rooted desire to spend
time reading and studying the Bible. Then be alert for those inner
promptings and reminders to open his Word and dive in. I find that
when I consistently ask God to give me a desire to spend time with
him, he always comes through. I can't walk past the shelf where I keep
my Bible and devotional book without feeling as though I should pull
it out and dig in!

3. Make daily Bible reading instinctual.
Experts say it takes 21 days to develop a habit. I've applied this
principle to exercise, drinking water, and even making my bed—so why
not use it with Bible reading? Decide on a reading or study plan and
commit yourself to spending time in God's Word every day, whether you
feel like it or not. One thing that helps me is to use a daily
devotional aid. After following that plan for a few weeks, I find I
can't skip a day in God's Word without feeling like I'm missing out on

4. Keep a spiritual journal.
One of the best ways to strengthen and maintain a desire for God's
Word is to keep a record of how Scripture has impacted your life. I
kept journals throughout my college years. Looking back over them
reminds me of how God has worked in my life and gives me the
motivation to continue serious Bible study. Your journal doesn't have
to be a special leather-bound volume; it can be a spiral notebook, or
simply notes taken directly in your Bible. The point is to take note
of how various Scripture passages have touched your heart, motivated
change in your life, or given you insight into life's circumstances.
When you've filled up a journal, notebook, or Bible, keep it as a
record and reminder —one you can turn to time and time again to see
how powerful God's Word truly is.

5. Customize your Bible study to fit your personality.
For years I struggled with the inability to follow a "read through the
Bible in a year" program. I've known friends and family members who
have done this year after year, and I always felt I should be able to
do this too. But I always gave up by March. Finally, I realized the
Bible-in-a-year plan just didn't fit my personality. As a
detail-oriented person, when I try to absorb four or five chapters of
the Bible each day, I feel as though I'm going too fast. I get
frustrated and give up. Now I tailor my study to my personality—more
in-depth studies and careful reading of shorter passages.

My friend Kathy also has found that customizing her Bible reading to
fit her personality has led to more productive, effective, and
consistent times in God's Word. "One of the most important things for
me is variety," she says. "If I find my devotional time getting stale,
I try to change it. Also, I occasionally set aside large chunks of
time to really 'dig into' the Word by doing in-depth study that can't
be completed in short bites of time."

6. Customize your Bible study to fit your circumstances.
Just as we all have different personalities that may require different
approaches to reading the Bible, we all go through different life
stages that demand a change in our Bible reading. A mother of three
preschoolers might not be able to devote the same amount of time and
energy to reading God's Word as she will when all her children are in
school. Lori, a wife and mom from Nebraska, has been able to customize
her time in the Bible throughout her adult life to fit whatever
circumstances she finds herself in. During college, she carved out
enough time to read through the Bible twice. In the early years of her
marriage, while working full-time as a teacher, she fit in shorter
reading times whenever she had the opportunity, such as reading some
Scripture while stopped at traffic lights during her long commute. Now
as a busy stay-at-home-mom, she does most of her Bible study late at
night or when her children are in the tub.

Take a look at your roles and responsibilities. Make sure you're not
trying to do too much (and definitely not too little!) for your
circumstances. Finding the method of study and reading that works for
where you are right now will keep you from giving up in frustration.

I know there still will be times when I don't "feel" the craving for
Scripture I want to have. But I also know the important thing is for
each of us to be aware of our desire for God's Word and always to be
working to increase it.

And another benefit is—satisfying our craving for Scripture will never
make us fat! Now…where did I hide that chocolate?

Katrina Baker, a freelance writer, lives with her family in Pennsylvania.

Copyright (c) 2004 by the author or Christianity Today
International/Today's Christian Woman magazine.

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