Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
~ John 5:39, Hebrews 4:12, Deuteronomy 6:6-9
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. ~ Psalm 119:11, Job 23:12, Jeremiah 15:16
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.
~ Matthew 14:23, Genesis 32:24, 2 Kings 4:33
The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. ~ Psalm 34:15, Isaiah 65:24
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
~ Ephesians 3:14
The Necessity of Daily Bible Reading, and The Necessity of Daily Prayer, by J.R. Miller.
The Necessity of Daily Bible Reading
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
~ Colossians 3:16
Probably prayer is less neglected in devotions, than is the reading of the Bible. Many people who would not go out any morning without a few moments of prayer, will go forth day after day into the thick of life’s duties and perils, without reading even a verse of Scripture. They feel the necessity of asking God to keep, guide and bless them — but they fail to realise that it is in and through meditating on His Word, that God chiefly gives His richest and best blessings.
It is in His Word, that God reveals Himself. We cannot know what He is like, nor what the attributes of His character are — unless we ponder the Scriptures. We cannot learn what God’s will is, nor what He would have us to do and to be — if we do not look into His Word. There is nothing that we need more, than to hear God speaking to us every morning. This is possible, only as we open the Bible and let its words whisper their messages to us.
No matter how familiar we may be with the teachings of the Scriptures, we need to ponder them anew every morning to keep their pure ideals and lofty requirements ever before us, lest we allow our standard of holy living to be lowered.
A celebrated painter always kept some purely-coloured stones on his table. When asked by a visitor why he did so, he said it was to keep his eye up to tone. When he was working in pigments, unconsciously his sense of colour was weakened. By keeping a pure colour near him he brought his eye up to tone again, just as the musician by his tuning-fork brings himself up to the right pitch. In the same way, we continually need to turn to God’s Word to keep our thoughts, and character, and life up to the true standard.
Rubenstein used to say that he could never omit his daily practice on the piano, for if he did, the quality of his playing would at once begin to deteriorate. He said that if he missed practice for three days — the public would know it; if he missed practice for two days — his friends would know it; and if he did not practice for even one day — he himself knew it.
It is no less true in Christian life, that in order to keep its holy tone up to what it should be, there must never be a break in the continuity of the study of God’s Word. If we leave off for only one day, we shall become conscious of a loss of power in living. If for two successive days we fail to look into God’s perfect law, our friends around us will notice the failure in the beauty, the sweetness and the grace of our character and disposition. If for three days we fail to study the Scriptures, to see how God would have us live, even the people of the world will see a lowering of the spiritual quality of our life.
One of the ways the Bible helps us, is by making Christ known to us. The noblest Christian is he before whose eyes, the character of Jesus shines in brightest splendour. Indeed, it is only when we have clear visions of Christ, that we really grow like Him.
“It seems to me,” says a writer, “that nowadays men think and talk too much about improving their own character — but meditate too little on the perfectness of the divine character.” Christ will never appear really great in our eyes, unless we make His Word our daily study. And only as He becomes great and glorious in our thought — will our character and standard of life be lifted up to what they should be.
Many of the blessings we seek in prayer, can come to us only through the Word of God:
We ask to be kept near the heart of Christ — but our Master tells us that only those who keep His commandments shall abide in His love. In order to keep His commandments, we must know them — and we can know them only by reading and re-reading them.
We ask God in the morning to guide us through the day, and in one of the psalms is the prayer, “Order my steps according to Your Word.” That is, God leads us by His Word. If then we do not read the words of God, how can we get His guidance?
The leading He promises is not general, by long stretches — but by little steps. The Psalmist says, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet.” It is not said that prayer is the lamp — but the Word. We must carry it in our hand, too, as one carries a lantern to throw its beams about his feet.
We pray to be kept from sin, and in the Scriptures one says, “Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Our prayers to be kept from sin, can be answered only by getting the Word of God into our heart.
These are suggestions of the necessity of reading the Bible daily, as well as of praying. Neither is complete in itself alone. We must talk to God — but we must also listen to God talk to us through His Word. We must pray for blessings — but only through the divine words of Scripture, can these blessings come to us.
The Necessity of Daily Prayer
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
~ Matthew 6:6
In the Christian’s devotional life, prayer has an essential place. The godly men of the Bible were all men of prayer. Jesus, who showed us in Himself the ideal life of a child of God — had regular habits of prayer. He who would live the Christian life well, must regularly commune with God.
It is important, however, that we understand clearly what it is to pray. It is not enough that at stated times we go over certain forms of prayer. We only pray, when we speak to God what is in our heart as a desire, a longing, or a burden.
Jesus teaches that we are to pray to God as our Father. We must come to Him, therefore, as children — with the genuineness, the simplicity, the confidence of children. When we stand at God’s throne of grace and speak the name “Father” and ask for a child’s blessing — we are sure of instant welcome.
Many people think of prayer only as coming to God with requests. They tell Him only their needs. They never bow before him nor speak to Him, unless there is something they wish Him to do for them.
What would you think of a friend of yours who never came to you nor talked with you, except when he wanted to ask some favour of you? True friendship finds many of its sweetest moments when there is no help to ask — but when only love’s communion fills the happy time. It should be so in our relation with our heavenly Father. If we care to be with Him only when we have a favour to ask of Him — then there is something lacking in our love.
We are not to suppose that when Jesus spent whole nights in prayer he was making requests all the time. He went away from the trying, struggling, troublesome life of the busy days among the people — to find shelter, rest, and renewal of strength, in sweet converse with his Father. Just so, most of the time we spend in prayer should be given to communion with God.
A minister relates that one Saturday morning, when he was in his study preparing his sermon, his little child opened the door and came in, stealing softly to his side. Somewhat impatiently, the father turned to her and asked, “What do you want, my child?”
“Nothing, papa,” the child replied. “I only want to be with you.”
This is oft-times the only desire of the true Christian when he comes to pray. He has no request to make — he just wants to be with his Father.
The most profitable season of devotion, is that in which there is also meditation upon God’s Word. It is related of a godly Christian who was known to spend much time in his prayer-closet, that a friend once secreted himself in his study to learn something of his devotional habit. The godly man was busy all the evening at his work. At eleven o’clock he put away his books and pen and opened his New Testament. For a whole hour he bent over its pages, reading, comparing, pondering the sacred words. Sometimes he would linger long over a sweet verse and his heart would glow with rapture. When the clock struck twelve, he closed the book and sought his bed.
He was not once on his knees during all the hour. He offered no petition in words. He had spent the whole time in communing with God in His Word, breathing out his love, his adoration, his longings and desires — and receiving into his heart the assurances, the encouragements, the promises, the joys of the Father’s love.
There could be no better way of devotion than this.
Praying alone, without meditation on the Word of God, meets only one phase of our need. We talk to God when we do this. But it is quite as important that God talks to us — and He will only talk with us, when we open the Scriptures and wait reverently to hear what He will say to us.
What is the help that we are to receive from prayer?
First of all, prayer holds us close to God. We breathe Heaven’s air when we commune with Christ. Life in this sinful world is not easy. It has its struggles, its duties, its difficulties, and its sorrows — which exhaust our strength. Hence we need continually to return to God to have our grace renewed. We cannot live today, on yesterday’s food; every morning we must pray for our daily bread. Nor can we be faithful, strong, happy and helpful Christians today — on yesterday’s supply of grace. We need to pray daily. Thus our life is kept from running down, and we are held near our Master all the while.
The true Christian life also grows — and it can only do so by daily communing with God. Our life should never run two days on just the same level. The days should be ladder rungs lifting our heart ever a little higher, nearer to God, into purer air, into loftier experiences, into holier consecration.
Prayer brings God down into our life. It was when Jesus was praying, that He was transfigured. True prayer always transfigures. One who lives habitually with God, becomes like God. Our earthly affairs become means of grace, if Christ is with us. Prayer lifts all the experiences of our life and lays them in the hand of Christ — who makes them work together for our eternal good.