“The 2 Essential Means of Christian Growth” + LINKUP

 

I’ve noticed that most people either find prayer a natural part of their Christian life or thoroughly enjoy studying the Bible. But rarely, have I met someone who says both come easily and naturally to them. Yet, it’s the two of them working together that are God’s essential means of Christian growth.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival

 

The 2 Essential Means of Christian Growth

 

Bible study comes pretty easy for me. I love reading my Bible. That doesn’t mean I do it perfectly or haven’t had to discipline myself to make it a part of my daily life, but once I acquired that habit, my hunger for God’s Word grew. And now I can’t see my life without reading and studying God’s Word.

I, also, know that prayer is important. I teach others that prayer is a necessary part of our Christian life. And I pray. Or maybe I should say, I work at praying.

I have a prayer list and verses of Scripture I like to pray for my husband, myself, and those I love. I pray as part of my journaling (the most effective way for me). I’m not afraid to pray in restaurants and other public places. I pray alone. I pray with others.

want prayer to be like breathing for me. But the truth is, it’s more like work.

What comes easier for you? Is it prayer? Or is it reading and studying your Bible?

According to the great preacher D.L. Moody in his book Prevailing Prayer:

These two means of grace must be used in their right proportion. If we read the Word and do not pray, we may become puffed up with knowledge, without the love that buildeth up. If we pray without reading the Word, we shall be ignorant of the mind and will of God, and become mystical and fanatical, and liable to be blown about by every wind of doctrine.

When it comes to prayer, I’ve read many books and heard more than a few sermons. I always go away more motivated and, often, excited about something new I want to incorporate into my prayer life. Other times the message is a reminder of something I know to be true. But, honestly, I find I still have to discipline myself to pray.

 

Why Pray?

 

Jesus said that prayer can move mountains (Mk. 11.23) and James said, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas. 5.16b). James went on to say:

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Hannah prayed and God opened her womb (1 Sam. 1).

Elisha prayed and a boy was raised from the dead (2 Kings 4.32-37).

Sampson prayed and God answered, even after he failed miserably:

28 Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” 29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. 30 Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life (Judges 16.28-30).

Daniel prayed and God sent the Angel Gabriel. Cornelius prayed and God sent Peter to his home. Peter’s friends prayed and he was released from prison. Paul and Silas prayed and a jailer and his family were saved. Over and over again in the Bible we see God move in response to prayer.

Jesus prayed before He chose His twelve apostles, when faced with the demands of ministry, when a friend died, on the night He was betrayed, and just before He died for the sins of the world.

We’re taught to pray (Matt. 6.9-13), encouraged to pray (Lk. 18.1), and commanded to pray (1 Thess 5.17). Prayer is mentioned over 250 times in the Bible. So, why is prayer so important?

Simply put, prayer is the best way for us to communicate with God. Reading His Word is listening to Him. Prayer is our response. Any relationship requires the give and take of both.

Prayer offers us the opportunity to acknowledge our need for God, to confess our sins and to thank Him for His many blessings. It helps us stay dependent on Him, instead of relying on ourselves.

God doesn’t need us to pray; He wants us to pray. He can perform His will with or without us, but He has given us the privilege of being part of what He’s doing in the earth.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me wonder why I have so much trouble disciplining myself to pray, at times.

And what about Bible study? 

 

The 2 Essential Means of Christian Growth - I've noticed that most people either find prayer a natural part of their Christian life or thoroughly enjoy studying the Bible. But rarely, have a met someone who says both come easily and naturally to them. Yet, it's the two of them working together that are God's essential means of Christian growth.


Why Study the Bible?

 

When we’re first born again into the kingdom of God, we’re spiritual babies. But just as natural babies desire milk, we are to desire the milk of God’s Word.

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1 Pet. 2.2).

God’s Word should become the guide for our lives.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path (Ps. 119.105).

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (Eph. 5.8).

If you’ve ever stubbed your toe in the dark, you know light is better. Spiritually, when we walk in the light of God’s truth, it not only keeps us from stumbling, but causes us to grow in our faith, knowledge, and understanding of God.

Growing in God’s Word helps us recognize the difference between truth and error (Acts 17.11), prepares us to share the Gospel and the hope we have in Christ (1 Pet. 3.15), and enables us to do the the “one-anothering” (teaching, admonishing, and encouraging) we are called to do in the family of God (Col. 3.16).

It provides us with hope and encouragement (Rom. 15.4), protects us from the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6.10-17; Lk. 4.1-13), and helps us stay away from sin (Ps. 119.11). It exposes our hearts (Heb. 12.12-16) so we can see where we need to grow and change.

It grows our faith (Rom. 10.17), enables us to obey the two great commandments (Matt. 22.37-40), and helps us become more like Christ (1 Tim. 4.7).

It prepares us to teach our children and the next generation (Deut. 6.6-7).

Jesus said He is the Bread of Life (Jn. 6.34), the Word lived out in human form. He commanded us to eat His flesh and drink His blood (Jn. 6.53). In the same way the food we consume is digested and becomes a part of us, we’re to digest His Word. Digestion is a process. 

If we’re to internalize God’s Word and allow it to nourish our hearts, we need to read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it.

When we do, it causes us to “grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2.2).

So, prayer and God’s Word, the two essential means of spiritual growth.


Coming Up:

In the next few days in the daily posts, we’ll talk about legalism, especially in our parenting, whether things God hates could be part of our lives and more.

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Blessings,
Donna

 

Today’s Featured Resource:

Prevailing Prayer by D.L. Moody


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22 thoughts on ““The 2 Essential Means of Christian Growth” + LINKUP

  1. I’ve told students in my classes before that I sometimes feel like a broken record with my admonitions about reading Scripture and prayer, but the truth is that I have no new and improved methods for coming near to God or for hearing His voice. Thanks, Donna, for joining the chorus with “the old old story.”

  2. I tend to gravitate more toward Bible reading/study, too. Or in my devotional time I tend to spend more time with one or the other rather than having a balance of the two. I do tend to pray throughout the day naturally, but sitting in my devotional time with a prayer list seems a little strained. Yet without a prayer list, my mind tends to drift. Between our own flesh and the devil, it will likely never be easy to find the right balance and to persevere in these disciplines, but I agree that both are essential. I love that quote from Moody – I’ve copied that to my quote collection.

    • Yes, I agree, Barbara. It’s never easy finding that balance, but it’s so worth the effort. I’m glad you enjoyed the quote. Have a great week.

  3. Donna,

    No greater advice out there for people: Pray and Read your Bible. That’s the basis for success in life.
    Praying you have a blessed day and that your time in prayer and the Word leave you refreshed to OVERflowing 🙂
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

  4. Donna, I was just having this conversation with myself the other day. I LOVE studying God’s Word. Of late, it’s just been an amazing time for me and I am learning so much and craving it more and more.

    But my prayer life has always lacked unfortunately. I have noticed I am getting better about prayer of late, and I have noticed a difference in my spiritual walk as a result.

    Thank you for sharing this very edifying post!

  5. I tend to worship and pray more than read my bible. I love to read but I can pray and worship anywhere. His presence just fills the room!

    When I read my Bible, its more of a study session. I take my colored pens, highlighters, sticky notes-everything. It helps my brain process as I meditate on the word.

    Thank you for sharing this post! I love it!

  6. Well I feel better!! I never realized that most people don’t lean towards prayer and study in the word – but usually one over the other. I’m normal!! Yeah! It’s so important to invest in both.

    • You’re right, both are so important. We’re not off the hook simply because our “bent” isn’t so much one way or the other. So glad you stopped by, Char!

  7. Prayer is so near and dear to my heart. When we stop to realize what a comfort it is that we don’t have to rely on ourselves–oh, the freedom. Sometimes I forget and go into worry mode, and then God is faithful to remind me that His strength is sufficient for me. I don’t have to be strong, I just need to pray it over to Him. Praise God. Thanks for sharing, Donna. Love how diligent you are with these Bible studies you do several times a week. I pray the Lord’s favor and blessing over your faithful work, friend. ((Hug))

  8. Both are important but sometimes it depends on the season of my life. There are times I am more intense and intentional about both. But then pray – I’ve had new revelations around pray recently. What if pray is like breathing and we attempt to formalize it too much? I’ve been thinking and there’s a post coming.

  9. Spending time with God’s word is essential for every Christian. However, to take your growth to the next level, meditate on what you’ve read. Ask God via prayer what He wants you to learn from what you are reading from His word. Seek His wisdom, Don’t read out of duty but of love. You want to hear what God has to say to you. Thanks for sharing y our insights Donna. Well done.

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