Spiritual Disciplines, Part 5: Bible Reading and “Quiet Time”
II Timothy 2:15-16 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
There are so many reasons to read God’s word. Of course we want to live according to God’s truth, by storing up His word in our hearts. We want to learn more about Jesus and the early church, and we want to familiarize ourselves with His promises, His commandments and His thoughts.
Yet there are precious benefits beyond those things. Bible study connects us with all of salvation history, presenting us with the Grand Story from creation to the called-out nation of Israel to its fall, to the coming of the Promised Messiah, the creation of the new called-out ones (the church), all ending with His Second Coming and our life with Him in eternity. We need to see Him as our Lord as well as the Lord of the nations. That’s a grand panorama we need to acquire so we have a backdrop against which to study and appreciate individual scriptures.
There are several approaches to taking in His Word, too. We can study it with commentaries, concordances, and study guides, and that is a way of digging in to His word to gain understanding and excavate His treasures. Every serious believer should have those times of study.
There is also a way of letting the Holy Spirit dig in us, and that is to read it devotionally. That is, we can sit with both the Word and its Author, allowing the Holy Spirit to sift through our thoughts and meditations as we read. This is not the same as sitting with the Bible, trying to find an encouraging verse or a quick answer to a problem. It’s being submitted to God, giving God time to let His Word sink in, enlightening and challenging us. Private, quiet Bible reading is sometimes so close to prayer as to be nearly indistinguishable from it.
There has been an occasional reaction to the idea of “quiet time.” Certainly, just putting in time performing a lifeless work isn’t spiritually beneficial, and we need to avoid doing that as much as we would any other work done without faith. But the concept is solid: What we call “quiet time” is a deliberate, intentional rejection of the pace and demands of modern life, with the goal of leaving ourselves open to the Lord and His working.
In today’s culture especially, we need to build a wall separating off the noise and the siren call of this world. We need to create and protect that place and time where we can settle our minds and hearts and can begin to connect with the Lord. No, sitting with Jesus and His Word is not the same as serious Biblical study. But serious Biblical study isn’t the same as opening our hearts in His presence. Both are required for the serious Christian, and happily, one feeds right into the other.
Prayer: Father, help me to have an increasing appreciation of Your Word and its many facets and benefits. Help me to approach Your Word both studiously and devotionally. Grant me the strength and wisdom to create and protect my time with You and Your word that I may continue to be transformed.