Devotions…Quiet Time…God and I Time – These are all ways I have heard personal Bible reading and prayer described. Essentially, they describe a regular time when believers in Christ develop their personal relationship with Christ through Bible reading and prayer.
So how does one go about spending time with God in the Bible and prayer? And how can it be something that is enjoyable and not just a duty? In this article, we will look at some “how-tos” and some reasons why this time with God is so important.
First, let me tell you about my journey in this area. As a boy and teenager growing up, I was privileged to hear a lot of Bible preaching and many times the application of the sermon seems to emphasize the important of reading the Bible and prayer. So, I began to try to read at least one chapter of the Bible every day. I often missed days, but as I kept track of my reading on a piece of paper, I noticed that I became more regular.
Most days, I enjoyed reading my Bible, but some days I understood and remembered very little. Unfortunately, I think I also developed the idea that if I did not read my Bible then I was somehow condemned by God. Sadly, my ability to be joyful in the Lord became connected to whether I had or had not read my Bible!
Many years later, I think I began to come to a more mature understanding of my relationship with God. I began to understand more fully His love for me and my standing before Him have nothing to do with my works. As Romans 8:1 says, “There is now therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” All of my sin, guilt, and failures were placed on Christ at the cross, and, the moment I believed on Him, His righteousness was imputed to my account.
This understanding helped me to move to a place of much greater joy in my personal devotional life. I began to read the Bible not in order to please God or earn favour with God but because I simply wanted to learn more about Him, because I loved HIm, and because I enjoyed having Him speak to me.
So, what are the benefits of having a consistent time with God each day?
We learn about the most wonderful, gracious, holy, and awesome God. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us, and there is no greater story on the planet than His story found in the Bible. We should read the Bible not just to learn facts about God or about the Bible stories, we should read the Bible to know God Himself!
We gain wisdom and direction to help us with the many choices and challenges of life. The Bible shows us what we ought to know, what we ought to value, and helps us avoid many mistakes and pitfalls that will bring great pain to our life. The culmulative effect of reading God’s Word is that it begins to become a part of us and begins to transform our thinking.
We learn how to pray. One big key to effective praying is to pray according to God’s will. As God’s words abide in us, we know what He wants and we know how to pray for the things that we know He wants (John 15:7).
We allow the Holy Spirit to teach us, transform us, and empower us. The Bible is called the Sword of the Spirit. He inspired the Biblical authors to write, and He then takes that same Word and illuminates us and teaches us what God wants us to know. To open the Bible is to open our lives to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, so that we become more and more like Christ.
We gain knowledge and understanding about so many practical things. God’s Word is a wealth of wisdom about how to live life in the church, in the home, and at work. It contains helpful instructions for relationships, for difficult situations, for temptation, and so much more.
We are equipped to give an answer. As we read and study God’s Word each day, we become more equipped so that we can rightly understand God’s Word and so that we can give an answer to those who ask us. In a world of many false ideas, we must know the truth well so that we can identify and correct the error around us.
There are many more benefits that could be listed, but finally what are some ideas for a more effective personal Bible reading time?
Have a regular time. Schedule a time each day when you will aim to read your Bible and pray. It does not have to be long; aim for 10-15 minutes. If you miss it or forget, don’t beat yourself up, just rejoice in the Lord and try again the next day.
Start with easier books of the Bible. Many people begin with Genesis and try to read all the way through and get discouraged somewhere along the way. Maybe start with the New Testament, the Psalms, or the Proverbs.
Keep a journal. Write the date, the passage, and anything you learn and anything you do not understand. Sometimes, just writing out what happened in your own words will help you think about and understand the passage better.
Look up what you don’t understand. If there is a cultural custom, a word, or something else you don’t understand, use an English dictionary, a Bible dictionary, or another resource to help you figure out what is going on.
Share what you are reading with someone else. It is encouraging to hear what others are reading and it helps keep you accountable to the discipline of regular Bible reading.
Go to church and listen to Bible preaching. As you hear the Bible explained, interpreted, and applied, it will help you understand how to do that and will greatly complement your own Bible reading.
Have fun. Don’t let it be boring or dry. Come with the right attitude. Pray for God to open your eyes to His Word. Be excited about the privilege to open up God’s amazing book and hear directly from Him. Use your imagination to make the stories come alive. Talk to others about it. Read what others have to say through devotional guides and commentaries. Most of all, just enjoy spending time with God through His Word.
I hope the above ideas will encourage you as you seek to develop your own relationship with God. He is the great God of heaven and He has written you a wonderful letter of love found in the Bible. Open it up and see what treasures you find!