It must be the New Year! My inbox is being bombarded. Shops invite me to spend, spend, spend. Gyms order me to work off the Christmas flab. And Elite singles tell me to ‘find love in 2015’. There’s a clean calendar on our kitchen wall to help us keep schedules on track.
Here’s something to commit to in this year ahead: let’s say our prayers and read our Bibles.
Right up front, let’s admit it. This is something we find hard work and where we’re embarrassed by how little we do it. We might say that that the reason we don’t say our prayers and read our Bibles more regularly is because we’re too busy. But, do I do it more on my day off and on my holidays (when I do have the time)? No. So this is not really a time problem. It’s a heart problem.
And if it’s a heart problem, we won’t be changed without God’s help. What I need is for God to give me a delight in in listening to him. And a delight in speaking to him.
If we treat our Quiet Times like a duty, then that’s the tone they will take: a dutiful activity that is meant to be ‘completed’. But if our Quiet Times are moments to delight in our God, then they become something that we look forward to, and don’t want to miss.
How can I grow in my enjoyment of the Bible? I could give you links to ‘through-the-year reading plans’ and advertise some helpful Bible reading notes. But instead I’m going to give you a reading plan for just the rest of January. Psalm 119. I know, just one Psalm! It has 22 sections that are all about the Christian delighting in their Bible and what God says there. Each section is short – just 8 verses. Why not read one section every day this month, and pray that in 2015 God will grow you in delighting in what he has to say.
How can I grow in my enjoyment of prayer? Every religion prays. In fact most people pray at some point or another. But only the Christian can say that we pray to the God who is our Father. That’s the foundational beginning of the Lord’s prayer: our Father in heaven (Matt 6:9). It shapes how we pray: your Father sees (Matt 6:4,6). And it encourages our confidence as we pray: your Father knows what you need (Matt 6:8).
Remember that God is our Father. It’s the heart of the gospel. Remembering who we pray to should transform how we pray. And how much we pray. So here’s my Prayer Help for the rest of January. Read Matthew 6:5-15 each day. And ask what difference it makes that I pray to God as Father. And pray that in 2015 God will grow you in the delight of speaking to him.