How to Start Reading the Bible with Friends The joy of sharing devotional time July 16th, 2018 Ann-Margret Hovsepian
How to Start Reading the Bible with Friends
How to Start Reading the Bible with Friends The joy of sharing devotional time July 16th, 2018 Ann-Margret Hovsepian
Bible Engager’s Blog

Every weekday morning, after I’ve gone for my walk, had breakfast, and tidied up my living room, I unlock my front door and wait for Lilit to come over for morning devotions. About 20 years younger than me, Lilit has lived next door since our church helped her move from Armenia to Canada in November 2017.

We start each work day side by side on my sofa, praying together—especially for our church members—and spending some time in God’s Word. This sets the tone for the hours ahead of us and helps us remain consistent in committing time to Scripture reading and prayer. It also gives us the opportunity to remind each other of related Bible verses and to discuss them, rather than rush through our devotions.

Shared Time in God’s Word

Sharing time in God’s Word is beneficial, and we have good models to guide us. Jesus encouraged his disciples to pray together: “I promise that when any two of you on earth agree about something you are praying for, my Father in heaven will do it for you. Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you” (Matthew 18:19-20).

In Hebrews 10:25, the writer advised believers to make fellowship a priority: “Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer.” He also urged the believers in Thessalonica to “encourage and help each other” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Jesus sometimes went off by himself to pray, but he also had regular fellowship with his disciples, teaching them from God’s Word. Even as a preteen, when his parents couldn’t find him after the Passover festival, they found him in the temple listening to the teachers and asking questions (see Luke 2:46). Jesus knew the importance of gathering in God’s house to study Scripture with others.

As we see in these examples, while our relationship with God is personal, it shouldn’t always be private. Fellowship—not simply socializing, but truly sharing in God’s Spirit and truth—helps us grow in our faith and gives us the opportunity to encourage others to do the same. When Lilit and I read a Bible passage or a devotional that convicts or challenges us, talking about it does two things: First, it lets us know that we are not alone in our struggles and, second, it helps us remain humble—even accountable—because we’ve just told someone else about a weakness we have. Similarly, if our reading brings encouragement or joy, sharing our responses to it affirms the message and, in a sense, we give each other “permission” to receive the words of grace.

Finding a Reading Friend

If you, like me, are unmarried and live alone, you may think, “Yeah, but I don’t have someone I can meet every morning.” Lilit becoming my neighbor worked out well for us, but physical proximity doesn’t need to be a deciding factor.

Perhaps someone in your church or a loved one would be happy to spend time on the phone with you, even if it’s only to share a Bible verse together and pray for each other.

Email or text message could be another way to follow a Bible reading plan with a friend and exchange prayer requests, keeping each other accountable on a regular basis. You may be able to find a Facebook discussion group that is going through a devotional book together. Alternatively, consider creating one of your own! If you can’t connect with someone every day, try to commit to a weekly check-in.

Getting Started

Lilit and I have approached our daily reading in a variety of ways, but we always begin and end our time together the same way: I open in prayer, asking God to speak to us through his Word and to help us apply what we read, and she closes in prayer, interceding for the people on our list. For a while, we were reading through books of the Bible, one chapter a day. More recently, we’ve been digging into Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest and discussing the relevant Scripture passage not only from his perspective but from our own experiences, too.

No matter what format you follow or how much time you take, it is vital to keep God’s Word—God’s teaching and truth—central. Devotional books should always point you back to the Bible rather than take its place. Sharing time should focus on how to understand and apply Scripture in your daily life, not on philosophies or opinions. Lilit says that doing devotions together helps her move “from theory to practice.”

When done well, devotions done with someone else or in a small group enhances our engagement with Scripture, brings it to life, and creates a thirst for even more. In my experience, the built-in accountability of shared devotions helps me remain consistent and that consistency enriches the time I spend reading and learning God’s Word, just as regular communication with a loved one enriches that relationship. As well, doing devotions regularly with a younger sister in Christ has given me opportunities to mentor and to share lessons God has taught me. More importantly, it has helped me grow my personal relationship with Jesus because it’s virtually impossible to rush through or gloss over my devotions when I’m with someone else—I’m fully focussed, which allows the daily message to sink a little deeper into my heart and mind.

After we’ve read together, and before Lilit prays for our church members, there is often a long, hushed pause as we both reflect on the day’s lesson. Our quiet times together, especially on busy days, ensure we are “concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of [us],” trusting that “he will provide [us] with all these other things” (Matthew 6:33).

Read more posts about: Getting StartedCommunity Practices

Ann-Margret Hovsepian
Ann-Margret Hovsepian

Ann-Margret, a best-selling author of devotional books and an illustrator of adult coloring books, lives in Montreal, Canada. She is passionate about sharing God’s love through writing, mentoring and women’s ministry.

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