Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word.
Bible intake is not only the most important Spiritual Discipline, it is also the most broad. It actually consists of several subdisciplines. It’s much like a university comprised of many colleges, each specializing in a different discipline, yet all united under the general name of the university.
HEARING GOD'S WORD
For most of us, disciplining ourselves to hear God’s Word means primarily developing the practice of steadfastly attending a Bible-believing church where the Word of God is faithfully preached.
There are other ways we may discipline ourselves to hear God’s Word in addition to the most important way, namely, hearing it preached as part of a local church ministry. The most obvious of these is by some form of recording of Bible-based content. These can be used in creative ways and times such as while dressing, cooking, commuting, and so on... But the ongoing worship of God cannot be separated from the Word of God, which you don’t expect to be read aloud or preached on the golf course or at the lake. We are to discipline ourselves to go and hear the Word of God.
If you enter the typical evangelical church two minutes before the start of the worship service, it sounds almost like you’ve walked into a gymnasium two minutes before a basketball game. Part of my pastoral heart appreciates the good things represented by people who are glad to see and talk with each other. There is a spirit of family reunion in the air when the family of God gathers together. But I think a larger part of my heart longs for reverence and a spirit of seeking God among those who come to hear His Word.
READING GOD'S WORD
If you want to be changed, if you want to become more like Jesus Christ, discipline yourself to read the Bible.
As D. L. Moody put it, “A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it.”
Discipline yourself to find [MAKE - cw] the time. Try to make it the same time every day. If possible, read the Bible at a time other than just before you go to sleep... You need to encounter Christ in the Scriptures when it will still have an impact on your day.
STUDYING GOD'S WORD
If reading the Bible can be compared to cruising the width of a clear, sparkling lake in a motorboat, studying the Bible is like slowly crossing that same lake in a glass-bottomed boat.
R. C. Sproul said it painfully well: “Here then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”
Don’t settle only for spiritual food that’s been “predigested” by others. Experience the joy of discovering biblical insights firsthand through your own Bible study.