This is a guest post by Lydia Brownback and is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at crossway.org/women.
The mental morning checklist—we’ve all got one.
Beds made? Check.
Lunches packed? Check.
Phone charged? Check.
For many of us, that mental rundown includes a daily Bible reading, and checking it off is simply part of a well-organized morning. Yet, while all Bible reading is profitable, there’s something a bit off about placing it on a to-do list—kind of like including “Kiss husband good-bye” or “Drink coffee.”
We don’t need reminders for our cravings—love, affection, caffeine. So where are we with this? Do we crave our time in the Word?
Checking Our Motives
We’re not likely to jump eagerly out of bed to get to it if we see it as yet one more goal (“This time, I’m determined to get through that ‘Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year’ plan.”) or as a way to appear spiritual (“Obadiah? Hmm. I’d better dig in and find out before it comes up in conversation.”) or as a means of guaranteeing God’s blessing on the day (“I can’t miss my quiet time. I’ve got a dicey meeting at 2pm that will definitely require divine intervention.”).
But God actually isn’t concerned that you read through the Bible in year. And appearing spiritual is really just pride. And all our blessings come to us through Christ’s righteousness, not what we do. So with those motivations out of the way, what’s the incentive?
It’s this: enjoying a foretaste of heaven.
We get that foretaste when we understand that God’s Word is literally that—his word! He speaks to us through it. In fact, it’s the only way he speaks to us. When we go to Scripture with a listening heart, the Holy Spirit illuminates its truths to our understanding and enables us to know God more fully. On top of that, he will often apply specific passages to something we’re dealing with or bring to light something he wants us to change.
A Two-Way Conversation
So we listen. But it’s a two-way conversation. God delights in our “discussing” Scripture with him. We can tell him what we see there, and we can tell him what we don’t get and ask for deeper understanding. And when we experience one of those ah-ha moments, we can share with him the joy of our discovery.
We can also pray the actual words of Scripture. Consider the Psalms—how many prayers we find there! There are heartfelt cries of sorrow, confusion, fear, joy, exaltation, gratitude, and need. And we’re invited to turn these heartfelt cries into our own personal prayers.
Think also of the prayers of Paul in the New Testament, such as those in Ephesians 1:16–21 and 3:14–19. Have you turned those words into personal petition? Can you? Will you? One thing’s for sure about those prayers: we know the things mentioned in them are God’s will for us because those prayers are part of God’s inspired Word.
The Way to Spiritual Intimacy
We have a relational God, and meeting with him prayerfully in his Word is the way to spiritual intimacy. The more we practice it, the better we’ll know our Lord, and the better we know him, the more of him we’ll want.
Soon we’ll notice that Bible reading is no longer dependent on the morning checklist. We don’t need reminders for what we value most.
Lydia Brownback (MAR, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the author of several books and a speaker at women’s conferences internationally. She has served as director of editorial for Crossway’s Book Division; writer-in-residence for Reverend Alistair Begg; and broadcast media manager for Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, where she produced The Bible Study Hour radio program with James Montgomery Boice. Some of Lydia’s books include the On-the-Go Devotional series, A Woman’s Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything, and Proverbs: A 12-Week Study.