"I will not neglect Your word."
- Psalm 119:16 NIV
Most Christians know that if they want to live the life of victory and purpose that Jesus died for them to have, they have to devote themselves to reading and studying the Bible. There are many ways to do that, but let me share some here with you, so that if you've been struggling in this area, you might be encouraged and inspired.
First, as we read the Bible, we should pray. It's been rightly said that the prayer that heaven answers is the prayer that originates in heaven. How do we pray the prayers of God's heart? We begin with the revealed will of God, as expressed in the holy Scriptures. The apostle John wrote: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of Him." I've been a praying Christian all my life. But not until I began studying the Scriptures did I experience the power of praying God's Word. Too often, believers pray problem-centered prayers. Then they wonder why their prayer life is "hit or miss." But when they learn the principle of praying promise-centered prayers, they experience the power that Holy-Spirit-inspired prayer produces. Suppose you have a financial need today. You open your Bible and ask the Lord to lead you to principles and promises that will help you to receive His best in the matter. You then pray and stand on those Scriptures until your need is met. If your wait is long, or if your faith falters, you remind the Lord and yourself what His Word says. Isaiah 62:6 (AMP) says: "Put the Lord in remembrance of His promises." Be determined to do that in prayer until your answer comes--and watch the Lord work!
Second, as we spend time in the Scriptures, we should worship God. Over the years, I've heard many men and women of God say that the best way to learn to worship the Lord is by praying the Psalms. This is how I learned to worship God myself. No matter how busy I am, I read at least one psalm a day. I declare the praises to God that it contains, and I pray the prayers back to Him. I've discovered that doing this can enable me to release my burdens and cares, and to receive healing for my mind, my emotions, and my body. The truth is that worshiping God is good for us. We don't do it for selfish reasons, but it's the Lord's nature to bless us when we bless Him. He can't help Himself. In Psalm 103 (NLT), David declares: "Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name." (v. 1) David calls upon his whole being to join his lips in worshiping God. Then he moves on to reminding himself and the Lord of all of His blessings toward His servants: "May I never forget the good things He does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle's!" (v. 2-5) As we voice God's Word in praise and thanksgiving, we call forth the rewards and blessings that He longs to have us receive by faith.
Third, as we read the Bible, we should listen for the Lord's answers. The psalmist declared: "I will listen [with expectancy] to what God the Lord will say." (Psalm 85:8 AMP) When we approach the Lord with an open Bible, prepared to listen and obey, He will speak to our hearts. Proverbs says: "My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don't lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body." (Proverbs 4:20-22 NLT) As we spend time in God's Word--reading it, studying it, and meditating upon it--we will receive instruction from the Lord that will lead to victory and wholeness for every area of our lives. But there's more. Scripture says: "Blessed is the man You discipline, O Lord, the man You teach from your law; You grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked." (Psalm 94:12-13 NIV) If we will allow God to use His Word to instruct and correct us, there's a good chance that He won't have to use painful circumstances or other people to do it, and we will save ourselves a lot grief and humiliation. God longs for us to come to Him with an open Bible and an open heart. Let's not keep Him waiting.
Prayer: Lord, give me a passion for You and Your Word that will cause me to seek You each day in the Scriptures. Teach me how to use Your Word to pray and to worship You in ways that please You most. Thank You that as I spend more and more time in Your Word, I will become more and more sensitive and obedient to Your voice!
- J. M. Farro