It would seem that a ministry devoted to helping preachers would not need to talk to them about having a time of daily devotions and a regular schedule to read the Bible. Unfortunately, my sad experience through the years has taught me otherwise. I must confess that, as a twenty-year-old youth pastor, there were some days I did not read the Bible. It was probably not until I started pastoring at the First Baptist Church of Bridgeport at the age of twenty-two that I began to read the Bible through on an annual basis. I always felt guilty (and should have) about this, and thought that everyone else had a much better devotional time than I did.
In the mid 1980s, an evangelist who was well known, came to our church. When I asked him about his devotional life (seeking to gain insights for my own, not to quiz him), he told me that he often read in Proverbs because it helped with the meetings. When I further queried him to see whether he had any plan to read the Bible through annually, he told me that he had often been in meetings where someone would ask how many people had read through the Bible in its entirety. He said that he always tried to pretend he was helping count!
Here was preacher of the Bible, who if his statements to me were to be taken at face value, had never read through the entire Word of God! This is incredible. I remember hearing of a pastor whose church averaged 1000 in attendance admitting to a young pastor that he was so busy with the church he didn’t have time for his personal devotions, only for his sermon and lesson preparation. A few months later, that pastor left the church with a woman other than his wife.
Here are some thoughts to help enhance your walk with the Lord.
1. It Must Be Personal
We must recognize that God knows us, loves us, wishes to hear from us, and enjoys our fellowship. We should talk to Him, listen to Him, and be aware that He is observing us at all times.
2. It Must Be Purposeful
There should be some plan. Over the years, God has prompted me to read His Word more frequently. My personal plan now is to read through the Old Testament every three months and through the New Testament every two months. Lest it seem to you that I am boasting of some super-spirituality, let me hasten to say that in the particular format of the King James version from which I read, this requires me to read nine pages in the Old Testament and four in the New Testament daily. Doesn’t that sound heroic? An entire thirteen pages of Scripture read each day.
I also find it helpful to have a pattern for prayer. I use the Lord’s Prayer as an outline in the morning and have lists that I pray over in the evening.
3. It Must Be a Priority
In my opinion, the way you determine how important something is to you is what it would take for you to miss it. I sometimes read the Bible in the morning and more often read it in the evening. But I always read it. I could not tell you the last time I did not have my regular Bible-reading time. Sometimes, I am so busy I cannot eat a meal. Sometimes I purchase a USA Today and never read it because of a busy schedule. But I never skip my Bible reading.
4. It Will Be Profitable
I am amazed at how many Bible passages and truths have sunk into my mind over the years just from reading the Word of God. I am amazed at how often the Spirit of God brings a passage to my mind to correct or improve my behavior.
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?—Micah 6:8