When it’s Difficult

Do you ever wake up, lay there and think I don’t know what to pray? You know situations you need to pray about and people you need to pray for, but words aren’t coming to mind? There are a few basics in our Christian walks like prayer, Bible reading, and Bible study; however, we can be at a loss on how to accomplish those tasks during certain times in our lives.

We know the importance of spiritual disciplines, and many of us have implemented the help of technology such as Bible apps to help us stay engaged with Bible reading. However, as convenient as the app may be, it also proves to be more of a distraction for people. If you get a Facebook notification, what do you do? Most of us can’t resist the compulsion to check it. I read devotions and make pictures for social media posts on the app, but I have found it best to put my phone away and use a physical Bible for my daily Bible reading. Don’t underestimate the connection you make when you hold a physical Bible; highlight, underline and make notes in the margin.

There are typically two areas of Scripture that slow people down and cause us to give up on daily reading, genealogies and repetitive portions of Scripture. The only advice I can give you when reading lineages is to power through and remember that nothing is recorded without purpose. When you hit repetitive sections of Scripture like Kings, Chronicles, and the gospels, don’t look at them like you’re reading the same stories for weeks; look for the difference in perspective and the details in one account that are not in another. It also helps to use a different reading plan every year or break up your reading into morning and evening. Another thing I have found helpful in daily reading is to use another translation or get a new ESV, so I’m not distracted by highlights and notes in my Bible (christianbook.com has frequent sales where you can get a good Bible for $20 or less).

Daily reading and Bible study are two different matters; reading the text fills your mind, and in studying, you allow the Scripture to transform your mind. Therefore, I recommend two things when you hit a slump in your Bible study. First, read a book on how to study the Bible. Even if you have read one before, read another one. This type of book can provide you with new ways to study and generally inspire you to study the Bible. I have made it a practice to read one book a year on studying the Bible to keep my passion for study alive. I don’t read it at the same time every year; I wait till I hit the slump and use the book to stoke the flames.

One of the enemy’s most used tricks is to bring feelings of guilt when we hit rough patches in our prayer and study life, but the thing is, that’s part of life. There will be times when things are great and times when we’re hit from all sides; it’s what we choose to do during those times that matter. It’s easy to study when we’re into it, but what do we do when we’re not? This brings me to my second suggestion, use a Bible study guide. Bible study guides will provide you with background information, ask you questions about the text and how to apply it to your life. Using a study guide is a helpful way to get your mind in gear again.

I began this post by asking if you’ve ever not known what to pray; you had situations that needed prayer and people you wanted to pray for, but the words to pray were not coming to mind. To help with this, I have somewhat of an odd suggestion, read a book on prayer written by someone dead. Men and women of time gone by tend to have a deeper understanding of prayer than we do. This is because we tend to be so fast-paced that our prayer lives consist of talking to God while driving. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something to be said for having a quiet place for prayer and dedicating longer times to pray to help develop you in your prayer life. This is why I believe it is beneficial to read books on prayer and even books of prayers or sermons so we can see how men of God in the past prayed.

It’s easy to have a lone-ranger attitude when it comes to these things, but we have two-thousand years of church history we can glean from and be helped by; we simply need to avail ourselves of the resources. So don’t let dry spells discourage you; let them push you into the pages of the Bible and church history so you can pull out forgotten gems of days gone by.

RESOURCES FOR BIBLE READING

Journaling Bibles

MacArthur Daily Bible

RESOURCES FOR BIBLE STUDY

30 Days to Understanding the Bible: Max Anders

How to Pray/ How to Study the Bible: R. A. Torrey

How to Study the Bible: John MacArthur

MacArthur Study Guides

BOOKS ON PRAYER

Spurgeon on Prayer

How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer

Torrey on Prayer

At the Throne of Grace: John MacArthur

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

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