In Luke 14 we encounter a curious parable, in which we enter the mind of an architect. In Luke 14:28-30 it reads “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” OK, so this parable isn’t so much about architecture as it is planning, or at least forethought. Contextually Jesus is talking about how we must think about what becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ will look like, how it will change our life, think about what it will cost us in this world, and plan accordingly. Plan not only for it to happen, but plan on what to do when it happens.
In the last blog post I talked about three ways to help you read Scripture, in which I focused on the means by which you read, meaning if reading a “regular” Bible is difficult for you that there are other ways in which you can still read, like an audio, study, or chronological Bible. Today I want to focus on what we do before & after, having planned out a way in which we can read now we plan for spiritual growth to happen.
OK, so I’ve already used this word several times, but it still applies as one of the first steps. Plan when & what you’re going to read. There’s a saying that says you can’t hit a target that you’re not aiming at, and another which says you can’t arrive where you want without knowing how to get there. Perhaps instead of opening Scripture at random & going until you can’t pay attention any longer (not saying you do this but it does happen), plan how much Scripture a day you want to cover & when you’re going to read it. Plan for how much you can indeed retain and think upon all day & start there – a passage, a chapter, a paragraph… We’re after you remembering & engaging with the text, not how fast you can tear through Scripture.
Now, when are you going to read? Put it on the schedule! Treat it as a meeting – a meeting between you & God. Treat it as a date – a date to get to know your Creator better. Treat it as you would breakfast or lunch – something you absolutely cannot miss & look forward to how you’ll be fed. However you plan your day – on your phone, in a calendar, day planner, monthly dry erase calendar – make sure your Scripture reading gets on there. It’s just as important as meals, as exercise, and yes, time with your spouse and kids, if honestly not more so. Once it’s on the schedule…
Prayer, much like reading His Word, is the best, most direct, most intimate way for a Christian to connect with God. Much is said about prayer in Scripture, like 1st John 5:14 which says “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” This come right after John says he’s writing so we can know we have eternal life & right before a passage about prayer. It is God’s will that we read & grow in the Scriptures, that we not only learn about God & Jesus but come to know them as our Father, our Savior, our Brother, much like we would read a love letter from a spouse or parent. Thus if that’s God’s will for us (part of it at least) why wouldn’t we ask Him to help us when we read Scripture? Help with what one may ask?
Maybe pray to stay focused (which speaking of planning may start with leaving your phone either in another room or in your pocket on silent). Pray to help you understand. Pray to help you remember. Pray that the words on the page aren’t like a textbook, but truly become the Word in your life. Pray to help you apply it. Pray that the Word penetrates your heart as well as your head. Pray that you can live it like Jesus. And don’t just pray before? Pray as you’re reading, pray after, pray when you think about what you read. There’s no such thing as too much prayer, especially when you’re spending time with God & His Word.
I’ll admit, this word was a bit of a stretch to get all my points to start with p, but it works. To ponder means to think, to reflect, to “digest” as it were (see meals from the planning paragraph). This means to not only read Scripture & pray, but to consciously & intentionally reflect upon what you just read. There are a multitude of ways you could do this, feel free to get creative! After you read take out a notepad and write your thoughts you had as you read. Write out a prayer to God about what you thought about this passage, or prayers for your life inspired by this passage. If you’re not into writing so much maybe write down a thought that you can carry with you & look at several times a day. You could even set a few alarms on your phone to remind you to look at your notes & pray about them.
Some may say “Well this is a lot to do just to read Scripture.” For some it might be a lot, and some can read a whole book and remember it perfectly. The question I have for you is how much does growing closer to God matter to you? If it matters little, most likely your habits will reflect it. If it matters a lot to you, what isn’t worth doing to grow your relationship with God? Grace to you.