In January of this year, Tim, Joshua and I went to a prayer conference in Jefferson, Oregon. We attended this same conference two years ago, but this time we decided to bring Joshua with us and introduce him to some of the concepts of a disciplined spiritual walk.
Sure enough, Joshua loved the conference and has determined to drag some friends along next year. Since we returned home, I have seen a gentle and steady growth in his life. Already committed to daily Bible reading, he has remained faithful and consistent in his study of the Word. On Pastor Duke’s urging, Joshua created a prayer list of important people in his life and ministry. Nearly every afternoon, Joshua sets off, prayer cards tucked in the pocket of his sweatshirt, for a 30 to 40 minute prayer walk.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. I Peter 3:12
My own prayer life and commitment to Bible reading has been lackluster and dull for more years than I would care to admit. In fact, the only reason I can write about it now is I have begged the Lord for forgiveness for my apathy and neglect. Imagine my growing shame and conviction as I would see my 15 year old son sitting faithfully, morning after morning, reading his Bible.
“Well, I’ve read the Bible before,” I would say to myself, grumbling at the pricks of conscience.
“I go to Bible study every week. Okay, nearly every week. I even do my study, most of the time. That’s reading the Bible. We’re in Esther right now. I read it today, or yesterday. Well, maybe I did 4 days worth of lessons last night, still that’s pretty good. I did finish the week’s work in time for the discussion. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I didn’t do my lesson.”
“Not to mention,” here we go, “Sunday School class. I go to the Adult Bible Fellowship class on Sunday mornings. We’ve studied book after book of the Bible. That’s some in-depth and serious reading.” The defenses go up pretty quickly.
“No, I don’t read it during the week, or look at the passages ahead of time. That’s what the teacher is for! I’m in class, though, and I bring my Bible with me every week.”
Oh, Lord forgive my pride and arrogance! To think I could grow spiritually with such a casual disregard for the Word of God.
In February, I began to listen to a series of sermons by Pastor Duke, called The Daily Dozen Duties. Dee is easy to listen to, with homespun illustrations and practical applications.
With each sermon, I became more and more alive and excited about my walk with the Lord. I was convicted about my flabby spiritual muscles and the lack of time I have spent in pursuing God.
We paid big bucks for this shot with Pastor Duke.
“No more,” I decided. “Time for a radical change.”
In the middle of February, I began to practice the dozen duties – read my Bible, confess sin, pray for wisdom, commit my day to the Lord, and so on – on a daily basis. Not just once or twice, or halfheartedly, but with commitment and consistency.
I printed up cards on the first four points, reminding me of the scriptural basis for the daily dozen, and posted them around the house. I purchased audio versions of the Bible to load on my phone. I ordered an ESV translation of the Bible for my phone so I could read along during the day. I committed to reading a Psalm, Proverb, and New/Old Testament chapter each day. Soon that wasn’t enough. I decided to follow Pastor Duke’s example and read 5 Psalms and a chapter of Proverbs a day, going through all of Psalms and Proverbs monthly.
My love of reading God’s Word was renewed. My desire for Him grew and grew. I calculated the chapters in the Gospels and the letters to the church and divided them into a monthly reading schedule. I’m committed to reading the Psalms, Proverbs, Gospels and Epistles entirely each month! I use my phone notepad to keep track of my reading schedule.
My prayer is that this would not be a “fad” or passing fancy, but the beginning of a deep and abiding love for the scriptures. I share this, not to brag or be prideful (“Lord, my eyes are on You alone, and my ears do not seek the praise of man.”), but to encourage you to pick up your Bible!
Psalm 119 is full of the blessings that come from reading God’s Word – comfort, purity, rescue, understanding, joy, salvation, guidance, and on and on. I am greedy for those blessings and more!
Not the scriptures, but at least they’re reading. Ha!
I read in the mornings when I dry my hair (ear phones on, listening to the audio Bible and following along with the text). I read in the car when I’m waiting for the children. I sneak time to read on the elliptical at the Y. I read it on the couch, snuggled under a blanket, a steaming cup of coffee in one hand. I read it at night while brushing my teeth.
Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Psalm 119:97
I am embarrassed to be a Christian of thirty-some years and to be so shallow and immature in my faith. I am racing to catch up, running and striving with everything I can to deepen my walk. As my children grow and change (and, in many ways, pass me in maturity and wisdom), I find myself confronted with my own aging. My eyes are opening to the fact that my time here on this earth is limited. I want to become a Champion for Christ, and make good use of every opportunity I have to serve Him. I feel a sense of urgency which drives me.
I’m praying these two will also become Champions for the Lord!
Along with being committed to intense, daily Bible reading, Pastor Duke is a prayer warrior. He prays 3 hours a day himself, encourages his congregation to pray every day for 15 minutes, and to work up to one hour, one day a week.
“What??? How am I going to find an hour in my day to pray?” I asked Tim plaintively. “I’m already spending all my free time reading the Bible.”
Tim shrugged. “You’re not going to find the time, you’re going to have to make the time.”
Ouch! Sure enough, there IS time in my day. Here and there, little pieces are available for prayer. I am no where near an hour yet. I pray in the mornings when I’m in the shower (is that too much information?) and try to pray/journal some every day. Tim and I pray together at least twice during the week.
My beloved friends, I strongly encourage you to find your passion for the Lord. Do not do as I did for so many years, and settle for a mediocre, lackluster spiritual walk. Stop by Pastor Duke’s church website. Go to his sermon archives and download some of the sermons. The daily dozen are on page seven. You will be blessed and encouraged! Play the sermons in your car, on the computer, on your mp3 player, wherever is most convenient.
To God be the Glory! I’m excited to see what work He will do in me next.
May the Lord bless the reading of His Word and find me faithful.