Over the last three weeks, my friend, Wendy Stringer, and I have been teaching a class at our local church entitled, “Meeting with God.” For that class, we compiled a resource list of helpful aids in establishing and maintaining a devotional life. I’m posting that list here (and including it as a document for download, if you will find it more helpful as a printable). This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it can be a good start!
If you have questions about what it looks like to have a daily time set aside to meet with God, feel free to ask them below in the comments. Maybe you struggle with consistency. Maybe you’re in a rut right now and need a go-to for something fresh. Maybe you aren’t convinced that daily prayer and Bible reading is an important spiritual discipline. We have had a great conversation over the last three weeks about what it a vibrant “quiet time” might look like, and I’m happy to share some of those thoughts with you if they pertain to your particular questions. Or, if you have a resource to share, please include the title in the comments!
Meeting with God
Grace Toronto Church
BIBLE READING PLANS
A Bible reading plan arranges daily Scripture readings in a variety of ways:
One-year plans: http://oneyearbibleonline.com
Robert Murray M’Cheyne plan (OT, NT and Psalms twice in one year): http://www.mcheyne.info/calendar.pdf
Topical: https://www.bible.com (or YouVersion app)
Helm, David. The Big Picture Story Bible. (Ages 2-6)
Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible. (Ages 3-8)
Machowski, Marty. The Gospel Story Bible. (Ages 6-10).
Vos, Catherine. The Child’s Story Bible. (Ages 5-14).
*A good children’s Bible can be a great help in becoming familiar with the meta-narrative of the Bible!
Baillie, John. A Diary of Private Prayer.
This book offers morning and evening prayers, which focus on adoration and concern for individual and social good.
Bennet, Arthur (ed.). The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.
This book is a compilation of Puritan prayers, and though the language is somewhat archaic, the theology is rich. Praying these prayers can be a great “warm-up” exercise for a daily time with God, the kind of warm-up that Martin Luther commended in his teaching. “I want your hear to be stirred and guided . . . rightly warmed and inclined toward prayer.”
Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that transform us.
This book is an extensive look at the variety of disciplines that can be practiced in our lives with God. Examples are: Sabbath, Rest, Teachability, Submission, Hospitality, Spiritual Friendship, Justice, Intercessory Prayer. Every practice is explained briefly, and readers are encouraged to answer reflection questions as well as attempt spiritual exercises.
Davis, Dale Ralph. Judges: Such a Great Salvation.
Davis tackles a difficult book with unflinching candour, humour and practicality. A scholar and pastor he exposits and writes so anyone can follow and grow. This commentary is one of 42 in the Focus on the Bible series in which Davis contributes widely.
Foster, Richard (ed.) Devotional Classics and Spiritual Classics.
Foster has provided reading selections from Christians across the centuries. Every reading is accompanied by a Bible reading, reflection questions and suggested exercises.
Hendricks, Howard and William. Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible.
This book is practical, how-to guide for studying Scripture. It is methodical and systematic, and each chapter ends with a “You Try It’ section. These exercises can be helpful for people who want a “hands-on” approach. Also, Hendricks has many suggestions for ancillary resources, which can be used to deepen Bible study.
Keller, Timothy. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.
This book is a comprehensive look at prayer in its various dimensions (thanksgiving, praise, supplication, petition). It offers insights from Christians from a variety of traditions across the centuries. Because of its depth of exploration, it cannot be read quickly, but it will certainly be re-read and referenced by students of prayer.
Peterson, Eugene. A Long Obedience: Discipleship in an Instant Society.
In this book Peterson helps us to read and pray the Psalms of Ascent (124–130). While not explicitly Christ centred, it is a beautiful book, written for easy access and understanding of the Psalms, the time they were written, the God who inspired them and loves his people.
Peterson, Eugene. Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading.
If you are looking for a practical, “how-to” book, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for something more theological, something which answers the “why” questions more than the “how” questions, this is great. Peterson unpacks Scripture’s purpose of forming us as God’s obedient, full-of-faith people.
Reinders, Philip F. Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year.
This is a great daily prayer guide that follows the religious calendar: it includes passages of Scripture for meditation as well as prayer topics. Perfect for reading alone, with a friend, or even with small children.
Wilkin, Jen. Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with both our Hearts and our Minds.
This book is a practical, how-to guide for studying Scripture. It provides a 5-step method of Bible study, including instruction for people teaching Scripture and also suggesting additional resources for further reflection. Though Wilkin’s more “rational” approach to Scripture may unfairly bias readers against experiential/emotional reading, her God-centered methods are sound.
The Book of Psalms for Worship (published by Crown and Covenant)
Every Psalm set to music with four part harmonies written. While some of the tunes are older they are also familiar. The words are carefully paraphrased, not exact, but easy to memorize just by singing.
The Story (published by Zondervan).
Arranged in 31 chapters, The Story allows the Bible to be read seamlessly and chronologically from beginning to end—like a novel. There is minimal editorial comment; the words of Scriptures speak for themselves.
There are many different audio versions of the bible to choose from: some with music, some without, all of the versions available in many languages. Perfect for listening to while driving, running, hiking or trying to drown out your kid’s noise.
The story of Jesus (NIV). (Recording copyright by Zondervan)
“The Story of Jesus is a compelling, easy-to-follow presentation that is rooted in the clear, accessible language of the NIV. Revealing and insightful, this is the Jesus story in a concise, single narrative.”
NIVUK by David Suchet. (Recording copyright by Biblica.inc)
This reading is simple and without music. David Suchet’s voice is easy on the ears and easy to follow. You can find more samples here:
Jones, Sally-Jones. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.
“Hear The Jesus Storybook Bible in this brand new eBook + audio edition featuring word-for-word audio narration by David Suchet. The multiple award-winning Jesus Storybook Bible tells the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby, the Child upon whom everything would depend. From Noah to Moses to King David, every story whispers his name.” Find it to download here:
Sons of Korah
This band sets and sings the Psalms with beautiful instrumentation. Most are written and sung verbatim. Great for memorizing whole Psalms. Find them here:
The Park Forum (theparkforum.org) – The Park Forum provides a devotional reflection of 400 words or less for daily Bible readings. Readings are taken from the M’Cheyne Reading Plan, modified to cover two chapters of Scripture per day. In two years, readers will have read through the entire Bible.
Today in the Word (todayintheword.org) – Each monthly devotional explores either a book of the Bible or a theme in Scripture. The daily readings include a Scripture passage and brief (300 words) devotional thought for meditation.
Bible Gateway (biblegateway.com) – Bible Gateway is a great resource for comparing Bible passages in different translations. It is also a good resource for word searches (e.g. “peace,” “hope”) and topical searches. Additionally, Bible Gateway offers devotional resources (from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon).
Bible Org: Where the World Comes to Study the Bible (https://bible.org)
Great for understanding the lives and context of the original hearers of the scriptures.
Blue Letter Bible (blueletterbible.org) – This website provides a lot of free Bible study aids: commentaries, articles, encyclopedias, dictionaries, topical indexes, maps, and devotional readings.
The Divine Hours (explorefaith.org): This is a resource for fixed-hour prayer. It presents biblically-based prayers to be prayed at the divine hours of every day: morning prayers (between 6-9am), midday prayers (between 11am-2pm) and evening prayers (between 5-8pm).
For the Love of God (D.A. Carson) – Following the M’Cheyne Bible-reading schedule, Dr. Carson, a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, explores the Bible in the larger framework of history and God’s eternal plan. These devotional readings were originally published in a two-volume book set.
YouVersion – Many Bible reading plans (3 – 365 days) are available through YouVersion.
She Reads Truth – This is an online community of women who read the Bible together daily. “Our goal is simple – to read the Bible daily and find Christ in every page.”
PrayerMate: This is a free resource for organizing and reviewing prayer requests. It also allows users to integrate prayer requests from other organizations.
Prayer Notebook, Prayer Notes: These are similar to PrayerMate, although they are not free free. They do offer additional capabilities.
BIBLE STUDY RESOURCE TOOLS
Concordance: This reference tool provides an alphabetical index of the words used in Scripture. It is most helpful to have a concordance for the translation you most regularly use. Additionally, there are brief explanations of the Hebrew/Greek words and their meanings, along with where these words appear elsewhere in Scripture. *Double-check if the concordance provides a cross-reference with Strong’s, whose numbering system is used for Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary.
– The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (KJV)
– Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (KJV)
– ESV Comprehensive Concordance of the Bible (ESV)
– Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance
Bible dictionary: This contains the most important words of the Bible and highlights the different Greek/Hebrew words used for English words.
– Vine’s, An Expository Dictionary
– The New Bible Dictionary
Bible handbooks: This is an encyclopedic resource. It provides cultural and historical context for Bible readers.
– Eerdman’s Companion to the Bible
– The Handbook of Life in Bible Times
– The New Moody Atlas of the Bible
– Zondervan Pictorial Bible Atlas
– New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition
– Matthew Henry’s Commentary (Published in 1706 and available at biblegateway.com)
– The Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible