I don’t want to make any assumptions here. You may be going gangbusters with the spiritual disciplines of Prayer and Bible reading at the moment. All power to you brother or sister! But sometimes, we don’t go so well with these two things. We don’t pray in a disciplined way. We arrive at Church on Sunday, we get to the prayer time and we can’t remember the last time we prayed – but we know it should be more often. And sometimes we let our personal practice of reading the Bible by our self go neglected for far too long. It’s those times I want to talk about. What is the root cause of that neglect? Perhaps you’d say you get too busy doing other things or that you mentally decide to pray or read and then get distracted – by Facebook or Twitter or instagram or by games on your phone or by television. After a while it’s not an occasional forgetting but a chronic situation. But these are just symptoms of a deeper cause and it’s the deeper cause that needs to be addressed.
If we just think we need to be less distracted and more organised we’re kidding ourselves. After all don’t we make time for the things we really care about? We don’t forget to eat or go to work or get some chocolate or buy a new pair of shoes. We don’t forget to watch Television or to check/post/like on Facebook. But we forget to read our Bibles and pray. Isn’t this because we don’t value them as much as other things? We don’t think they are worthwhile. We don’t think we get much out of them. Both prayer and Bible reading are about engaging with God- in prayer we mainly speak and in reading He mainly gets to speak. So avoiding these spiritual practices is about avoiding God.
So why do we avoid God? In Isaiah 57:11 we read, “Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?” Perhaps you think God has been silent in your life for too long. Maybe you think prayer doesn’t accomplish much for you and therefore there is little point in praying. Perhaps you’re sick of hearing yourself pray trite prayers or of going through the motions of reading God’s word without getting anything out of it. Perhaps you have sin in your life that is making you avoid God. These are root causes. These are worth tackling.
How to tackle them? In conversation. With God. The way to tackle them is to go back to God- in prayer and through a reading of his word. Sit still and silent for twenty minutes and read, then pray. (Buy yourself a new Bible, pen or journal if motivationally necessary.) Repent of neglect and expect God to turn up, to speak, to forgive and to heal in accordance with his promise. Like most things, its not rocket science. Isaiah 57: 15- 19 “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite…..I have seen their ways , but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort…creating praise on their lips.” I believe that is a promise to be claimed.
A few years ago when we started the Peter Corney Training Centre we were impressed by a study done at Willow Creek Church in the USA. They were investigating the key enabler of spiritual growth. Was it regular attendance and involvement at Church, was it being in a small group, was it volunteering at Church or serving in the local community? No. All those things are valuable but the most significant trigger for growth is our personal bible reading and prayer habits. All those other good things flow from the two foundational habits of personal bible reading and prayer. That’s how important they are. And I think they are so important because they form in us, by the act of daily repetition, a character that is in a real relationship with the Living God.
Every time we open up God’s Word, He’s there. So lets get back into His Word. Every time we pray in the name of His Son, he hears us. So let’s get back to daily prayer. Amen?
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
On the petercorneytraining.com.au website you will find a free downloadable one page bible reading plan that you can slip into your Bible and use to keep yourself in a good reading habit.