“Read your Bible, pray every day
Pray every day, pray every day
Read your Bible, pray every day
If you want to grow”
This simple Sunday school song we may have heard as children reminds of the importance of daily Bible reading and prayer. While we may be aware of the significance of these spiritual disciplines in our lives, what is at stake when we neglect Bible reading, meditating on Scripture and prayer?
Does this promote legalism?
Being disciplined in prayer and Bible reading is not legalistic. They are not a way of gaining God’s acceptance. He accepts us not on the basis of what we do, but on our faith in what Christ has done for us. These disciplines do not undermine grace. Rather, they are a means by which we experience God and His grace. God has graciously revealed Himself to us in His Word and invites us into fellowship with Him through the privilege of prayer. As we do so, the Holy Spirit stirs up our desire for God. Our faith is strengthened. Temptation seems less enticing. We become less susceptible to the accusations of Satan as we cultivate these godly habits.
How often do you go without eating? I would imagine that this period is rarely more than a few hours at at a time because you understand the necessity of feeding yourself. The health consequences would be dire were we to deprive ourselves of food. The same goes for our souls (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). Without a consistent intake of the Scriptures, our souls become malnourished. A healthy Christian is a growing Christian, and a growing Christian is a Bible reading Christian. We have been born again to a new and living hope (1 Peter 1:3), so how can we not desire the very food which will make us grow? How else can we expect to increasingly know God apart from His self-revelation in Scripture? As we feast daily on God’s Word, our souls are nourished and our taste buds delight in the flavours of His goodness.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;Psalm 34:8
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
1 Peter 2:2-3
“God’s Word has life, gives life, and nourishes life… If we stop feeding the Word, we stop growing, we stop enjoying (tasting) the grace that we find in the Lord.”Warren Wiersbe
Meditating on Scripture
Worldly meditation often involves emptying your mind; ridding yourself of all thoughts and emotions. Biblical meditation says fill your mind with the Word of God and reflecting on that which you have just read.
Thomas Watson wrote:
“Meditation is the chewing upon the truths we have heard… Meditation is the soul’s retiring of itself, that by a serious and solemn thinking upon God, the heart may be raised up to heavenly affections.”
Marvel at the words you read in your study. Apply them to your heart by savouring that truth and allowing it to shape your thoughts and affections, thus transforming your conduct. This is what enriches our Bible reading. Meditating on Scripture doesn’t only aid memorisation, but causes the Word to take root in our hearts and then shapes our lives.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.Joshua 1:8
Blessed is the manPsalm 1:1-2
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
When considering Bible reading and prayer, one might be tempted to compare which is more important between the two. However, both are equally vital:
When asked: ‘What is more important: prayer or reading the Bible?’ I ask ‘What is more important: breathing in or breathing out?’Charles H. Spurgeon
Prayer is a privilege. By prayer, God invites us to participate in the fulfilment of His will on the earth (Matthew 6:10). Through spending consistent time in prayer, we also grow in intimacy with God. In prayer, the sovereign ruler of the universe desires to fellowship with us as both our Creator and our Dearest Father. I believe that if we pondered upon this more frequently, we would pray more often and with greater excitement.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.1 John 3:1a
Self-sufficient people don’t pray; trust me, I’ve learned from experience. By engaging in prayer, we are humbled as we are confronted by our own powerlessness and God’s omnipotence.
The key to prayer is a heart of dependence. God desires that we come to Him in complete trust in Him as opposed to ourselves. God readily takes our burdens so that we need not bear them anymore. His power and grace is sufficient. As we take everything to God in prayer, He is ready to equip us with His inexhaustible strength to face the trials of the day. No issue is too small for His concern. No request is too great for Him to accomplish. The greatest comfort and joy is ours to experience as we devote ourselves to prayer.
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;Psalm 17:6
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Romans 12:12
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
The spiritual disciplines we’ve explored are not exhaustive. Nonetheless, their centrality in Christian living cannot be overstated. This is why we must remind ourselves of their importance to then make them a priority in our lives. Start afresh today. Find ways to make these practices more fruitful and enjoyable so that you may deepen your relationship with God and invite others into relationship with Him too.