His heart pounded, his lips quivered, decay crept into his bones, and his legs trembled (Habakkuk 3:16). He was confused, angry, terrified, and desperate for relief. He cried, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2). Habakkuk, an Old Testament prophet, experienced a season of trials...
Every Christian should have a deep appetite for the truth of the Bible. Scripture instructs us and encourages us to live a life pleasing to God and helps us know and understand the God we serve.
But there is a time when reading the Bible can be a bad thing for your Christian life, even a dangerous thing.
I love to read and to learn more about God and His Word. When I had the opportunity to take classes to study Scripture deeply, I soaked in as much wisdom and truth about the Scriptures as I could and studied hard to know God through His Word. I found answers to questions I had about the text, looked up cross references, and chose a Bible reading plan that would soak my life in the Scriptures.
While this is all good, something was missing (although not completely)…
I had a deep desire and urgency to know God through His Word, but I neglected knowing God through prayer in favor of more Bible reading. Prayer acted more as a way to close my Bible reading time and to ask for things I wanted rather than to commune with the living God.
I knew that I should pray more, but justified in my mind that I didn’t need to pray much as long as I was reading Scripture so much. In thinking this way, I avoided pursuing a deep prayer life. The lack of prayer in my life exposed my false notion of how to have a relationship with God.
Reading the Bible is not a bad thing as long as it does not take the place of other necessary things in the Christian life.
Although I was consistent with my Bible reading, I was inconsistent asking God to help me understand and apply what I learned. I was inconsistent praising God for what He has done, thanking Him for grace in my life, and communicating with Him as two people in a relationship communicate.
My knowledge of the Bible increased, but my love for God did not.
That is the danger of this type of spiritual imbalance: having knowledge about God increase, while affection for God does not.
God never intended for either Bible reading or prayer to stand alone. Prayer and Bible reading should each be like a pant leg that is sewn together making a complete pair of pants–two good things coming together to make a much more useful whole.
When we read the Bible, we should do it prayerfully; asking God to help us understand its deep riches, convict us of our sin, and apply it to our lives. We should also read praise-fully; praising God for what He has done in history and through Christ.
When we pray, we should remember the heart and desires of God as revealed in His word, and pray in line with what God wants us to pray.
God promises that His Word will never come back to Him without accomplishing what He purposes (Isaiah 55:11), and Christ promises to reward prayer.
Why would we neglect either means of grace when approaching God?
Image Credit (rennes.i on Flickr)