I hope you’ve all had good Christmas and New Year Celebrations!
This is the time of the year when lots of people think about resolutions or changes they’d like to make in their lives in the coming year. Not coincidentally, this is also the time of year I like to write to you all and ask you to think about the same regarding the Christian disciplines of prayer and Scripture reading. These are means of grace; in practicing them, we’re not only ordering our lives and habits towards the things we love, we’re also participating in some of the most vital ways God meets his people with his grace.
Here’s my simple request: take some time each day to read Scripture and pray. These two means of grace have proven themselves again and again to be incredibly beneficial for believers and for the shared life of the church. When we read Scripture and pray, we meet with God and hear from him. He comforts us, instructs us, and gives us wisdom and encouragement and a tangible sense of his presence with us and love for us. The Spirit uses Scripture and prayer to point us to Jesus, who is the source of our life and the one in whom we find meaning and coherence (Colossians 1.17-18). It would be impossible to overstate how important these disciplines are.
There are lots of reading plans available online, many of which work with mobile devices. If you’d rather print something out and tuck it into your Bible, we have a couple good ones available on the Welcome Table at church. There’s a great resource from The Bible Project that provides both a reading plan and short, well-made video introductions to the books of the Bible and sections of Scripture within them. It’s called Read Scripture, and it’s really good. If following a plan doesn’t suit your style, or if it seems intimidating, you could just start reading. A chapter or even a paragraph a day would be great. Start with one of the gospels.
When you read, pray: pray about what you’ve read and ask God to teach you and make himself present and known to you. Speak a few sentences in praise of God, and a few sentences confessing any sins in your life you’re aware of. Take some time to simply be quiet and listen for the Spirit. Then speak a few sentences letting God know what you need and desire for yourself or others, and then a few sentences of thanks to God for what he has done in your life. It can be that simple.
If you’d like to look at a more structured approach to praying with Scripture, check out this Meditating on Scripture excerpt from one of our Discipleship Cohorts. It outlines a very simple way to pray through what you’re reading.
I really hope you’ll consider adding these disciplines to your life. And if they’re already a part of your life, consider this an encouragement to keep going!
Grace and Peace on the Ninth Day of Christmas,