estelle-princess-of-gondor  asked:

Do you have any ideas about how to fat closer to God? I pray a lot but I have trouble mixing any thing else like bible reading into my routine. Any ideas?

Hi there! Prayer is awesome, so you are off to a fabulous start. 

If you would like to re-vitalize your prayer, check out this post, this post, and this post for tips and encouragement, or wander through our whole prayer tag.

Other options for enriching your relationship with God include serving others, looking for God in everyone around you, attending Bible studies and Sunday schools as well as Sunday worship, and exploring various faith communities. Remember that our relationships with people are a part of our relationship with God, so that cultivating them actually enhances how we relate to God.

The rest of this post will deal with the Bible, so to start with: here is a post with some tips for getting into the Bible! I recommend reading this post before continuing with my answer here. 

First things first: find a version of the Bible that helps you grow. Some people use editions that have almost no footnotes; I personally find that confusing and difficult – because there are confusing and difficult passages in the Bible, and it really helps to hear what scholars and theologians have to say about them. If you already have a Bible you like, then you can skip this next bit, but if you need help finding a version that fits you, read on!

  • If you are in or have attended undergrad or graduate school and feel your reading level is pretty steadily at that college level, the NRSV New Interpreter’s Study Bible is my number one recommendation. It’s what I use here at seminary, and it’s known for having a translation that takes you as close as possible to the original text, rather than bringing the text to the reader. This means that it is at a much higher reading level than most Bibles, so only pick this one if you’re comfortable with the kind of stuff you’d read in college! If you’re interested in the original Greek and Hebrew (even if you don’t know those languages), this version helps bring you to them. 
  • The sort of opposite of the above option is the Common English Study Bible, which I also own and which also contains super helpful commentary and footnotes and even maps. It brings the text to the reader, meaning that it is at a very accessible reading level – it’s what my home church uses in their pews, because it’s easy for almost everyone to read and understand!
  • The Bible that I’ve been using for years and that has helped me dip into historical readings of the Bible is the Catholic Study Bible – it’s also the cheapest of these three options on Amazon if you buy it used. It contains articles on various topics as well as a reading guide and tons of footnotes. Seriously, it contains so much rich, scholarly material, and when it comes to reading level, I’d say it’s in between the NRSV and CEB (the translation it uses is NAB). 
  • Note that the first two options here are “progressive,” while the Catholic one is of course more conservative but still emphasizes reading the Bible from its proper historical and literary context.
  • A final option, and one I’m really passionate about, is to start with “children’s” Bibles! I’m serious, it will help you get a feel for the broader messages of the Bible before you dive into the “real” Bible. My top recommendation is this Illustrated Family Bible – for one thing, the images are gorgeous and aren’t white-washed. For another thing, it uses actual text from the Bible, rather than paraphrasing – it simply isn’t the full text. This is the Bible I started with years ago; I read a page or two every day until I’d finished it, and it kindled a desire to go and read the full text of the Bible. 

Our Bible tag contains lots of other posts that might help you along the way. Here’s a post on faithfully reading the problematic parts of the Bible, for instance, and a post on how the Bible portrays God. And here is a post on interpreting the Bible faithfully – understanding that it can be interpreted while also taking care about the biases we bring to the text. There’s a lot in the tag about sexuality in the Bible and reading it as an LGBTA+ person, too. 

Finally, here is a short prayer for reading the Bible. It contains reminders of why we read the Bible – not out of some sense of obligation, as a task to get over with; not so that we can fling verses at people to bolster our arguments; but because the Bible is our most direct revelation of who God is. In the Bible, we find out what kind of relationship God wants with us, and just how deep God’s love is. 

I hope this helps a bit! If anyone has further tips for enriching one’s relationship with God, please share!

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I’m a 35 year old women from Pensacola Florida I’m married and I hope to be a mom someday, I have a bachelors degree in fashion, I absolutely love fashion, I’m very creative I have hopes to start my own fashion business one day soon, I love Jesus with all my heart and I’m an active member of my local church.

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God knows all about that thing you did that still makes you cringe. He knows all about the reasons behind your clenched fists. He sees the stories behind your guarded heart. And He still wants you. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. God still wants you. He still loves you.

It’s time to come home.