Hi, this is Dave. I wanted to put some personal experience and sentiments together. It fits our ministry here at DCF, and I imagine any Christian can benefit from these two personal discoveries. It’s also easy to imagine that many, or even most of you, already know. If so, consider this a thank you, an encouragement, or a reminder.
Prayer and Bible study represent our direct conversations with God. If we pray for anything, we find it in the Bible. Prayer and meditation mean prayer and thoughtful reflection along with study. We also learn and express our love for God by speaking to Him and listening to His will as recorded in the Bible. We also learn how to live, work, relax, worship, grow, entertain, serve, answer, admonish . . . and everything else. If it has to do with life itself, the Bible contains it. First, though, we should see how nasty, dirty, and corrupt we are without Christ’s intervention. There is no “good Christian,” just wretched Christians like me, struggling to obey and follow a good Savior, good Father, and good Spirit.
That is not to start an argument or irritate the righteousness you may think you have. It is, at least for me, necessary information to plan my prayers and Bible study times.
Here are my “tips” for the most productive use of my most spiritual time.
The first is strategic: allot extra, and double it. . For me, 15 minutes is usually enough time to complete my prayers and read a chapter or two of considered verses. Doing this twice each day is normal. I pray and then read my Bible shortly after I wake up, and then again in the afternoon. By doubling these times, I get four sessions, and I make sure that nothing is pressing in the next 30 minutes before starting — preferably longer. My times are now early and mid-morning, and early and mid-afternoon. One half hour each.
What I had discovered was that on most days, I either daydreamed myself out of prayer and skimped on my Bible reading, or became so wrapped up in prayer and the Bible’s answers that my time flew by too quickly. I freely confess more of the daydreams than the immersions. When God really clears my head, there is so much pouring in and out that I need more time. This way, it’s always available. There is also another attempt waiting. On really good days, I strain every second of the time, or reschedule something else in order to continue, but the next time is always close enough to return to the studies if necessary, without forgetting or “losing the mood.”
The other “tip” is to foil the enemy. Have you ever found a magnificent and striking revelation in your prayer or Bible time, only to have it blur or vanish almost immediately? I have! It has frustrated me many times to watch a moment like that fade into seeming oblivion. I genuinely think that the enemy within and perhaps demons themselves will foil our attempts to understand a new realization about God. This is especially true if we discover a character flaw in ourselves. I can rationalize or justify it in two seconds flat if it doesn’t land in bold ink on paper.
Write it down. Before I begin is the time to place pen or pencil and paper in reach, so I can scribble like crazy when those thoughts come along. For me, they are usually complex thoughts, not bumper stickers, so it might take a few paragraphs or even pages to lay it out. Often, the results of those insights need to be shared, or just kept in a more thorough fashion, so I may have to really work at getting it down in ink before it fades away.
Now that this is on paper, I see how weak I am, and it’s all there. On electronic paper. At best, two hours of devoted prayer and Bible study. Combined. Usually less. Occasionally much more. This is a big improvement, though. I remember reading about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion, asking His disciples, “Can you not pray with me one hour?” When I was a new Christian, I thought to myself, “Pray for an hour? How can anyone pray for 10 minutes?”