kids / mom's toolbox / spiritual practice

listening journals

My Bible is water and bread and air. There are a lot of things I could live without — ice cream, nice clothes, a bed, confectionery sprinkles — but no Bible? I just don’t want to live in that world.

I started reading my Bible regularly at an early age when quantity was in fashion. Reading the whole Bible in a year was the cool thing to do and by fifth grade, I was working up to the 4 chapters a day pace required for such a feat. When you start that young, you nerd out at certain points along the way and commentaries get into the mix. But the whole way, the Bible was alive and spoke to me because God is good at communicating with us even when we’re immature and clunky and everything is in our head.

A few years ago, my friend Neiva challenged me to try an online Bible reading method that was a bit different. It was different because it selected passages for me, it had various steps to complete and it was short and slow. Most days I read between five to ten verses, which would’ve hardly qualified as a legitimate Bible reading back in the day.

But, wow! It was such a rich time. God poured Himself into my heart and mind in ways I’d never experienced with such intensity before. And it was exactly what I needed.

Here’s how the basic process goes:

  • Step 1: Read the passage. That’s straightforward enough, except that we who are Speedy Gonzales with words have to work very hard to slow down and re-read.
  • Step 2: Rewrite the passage. Telling the passage in my own words seemed stupid at first, like test to see if I really understood what I read. But, mildly offended, I went along and did it and — can I just tell you? Don’t skip this part. Writing or telling it in my own words made it realer — and that’s not even a word.
  • Step 3: Listen. Just be quiet and listen to what God is telling you. I forget this step pretty much always in my life, which is how things get stressful and complicated. But listening for what God wants me to know for today, that’s huge. And if you do this, you will be astonished at how often God has something direct to say about what you’re facing. It’s almost like He knows you and is watching out for you. Crazy.
  • Step 4: Talk. Just respond in a prayer to what God said to you.

This whole process takes anywhere from 5-20 minutes for a passage that is less than ten verses long. It can probably take longer if you get good at it and have the time to sit and soak in God’s Word.

I believe there are many good ways to read your Bible — just as there are a lot of ways that are ineffective — but this summer, I’m working on training my kids up in a version of this lectio divina format. Variations of this method have been used for hundreds of years, which gives it more cred than Joel Osteen and John Calvin and the pope combined.

Here’s the thing: my kids know all the Bible stories. They will beat you at Bible Trivia because their heads are full of Bible knowledge. But being a Bible-Knower and being a Jesus Person are two separate things. You can’t teach relationship, you have to do relationship. That’s why my desire this summer is to help them connect with God in a simple, personal way.

journal2

I had the kids create their own notebook covers and last week, I developed a 12-week reading plan for the family, along with journal pages that guide us through this method. Each week we have a Bible story, which we’ll tell and discuss together at some point during the week. Doing that just takes five to ten minutes. Each week also has five verses that relate to some of the themes brought up in that week’s story.

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And here’s the other fun part: we’ll get to talk about it with each other. Listening to God is wildly fun and it’s even more fun — funner, if you will — when you get to tell people what God is speaking to you through His Word. So we’ll make sure that each week, we all get to share a highlight from what God has said.

Our job is to be available, God’s job is to take it from there, which means this is an excellent summer adventure.

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If you want to join us, here are some downloads to walk you through exactly what we’re doing:

Download the Summer Reading Schedule , along with the How-To page that both explains how the process works and provides some tips.

If you want, download our 8.5×11 size journal pages – in either normal width or narrow width. And then print to your hearts desire!

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