Christian Living,  Devotions

3 Ways Reading and Praying Scripture Strengthens our Faith

Sometimes I hear weary people asking other believers how they walk confidently with God and live in peace despite hard circumstances. The question is usually asked expecting a clear set of instructions on how to do life. Much like this post, we tend to want our relationship with God and the Church to list three, clear steps to having it all. Upon learning that these Christians have set up their lives to be molded around the things of God, many then back away, claiming legalism for setting intentions for abiding in Christ. There has to be a way to know God without time in prayer, fasting, reading the Bible, serving others through local assemblies, and biblical ordinances, right? Surely there is an easier way.

Here is the truth according to Jesus:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

John 15:4 ESV

Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

1 John 2:6

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,

John 8:31

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

2 Jon 1:9

Walking with Christ involves mystery and faith; nuance and truth. Each one of us is uniquely created and therefore will experience life with Christ in unique ways. But the clear instructions of Jesus through Scripture reveals the need for abiding, or remaining, in a close walk with Him through the Spirit empowering us to fruitfulness. Abiding requires daily discipline as people who are prone to forget and wonder from the truths we first learned.

In Matthew 6, known as The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells us to pray like this: “Give us this day our daily bread.” This full prayer was given in response to the disciples’ plea to understand how to talk to God after seeing how often Jesus withdrew to pray alone with the Father. They knew that if Jesus needed to abide, so did they. All we have is today. If we wait a month to spend time abiding, we might not even see that day. We aren’t promised tomorrow, and we are to make the most of the time, not squandering the gift and resources given. Today is the day to talk to God, to seek the truth of how to reflect His character through Scripture, to share with others, to serve our neighbors, and to prepare ourselves for future days of battle.

The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

Titus 3:8

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.

Colossians 4:5

Spiritual maturity comes from hungering and thirsting after the righteousness of God. When we realize how empty we are, and how full life with Christ is, we will pursue Him.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Matthew 5:6

Growth begins with praying for God to increase our appetite — and He will! No one can help us know God personally. They can point us in His direction, but we alone must come, seeking to abide, worship, and be satisfied.

Prayer is two-way communication with God. We can use our time in our Bibles to find out what should be high up on our priority list for talking with God. We can use the words of others who faced similar struggles to put words to our own jumbled desires. We can offer up songs of praise as recorded in the Bible and then use them as models for our own heart’s cries. Sometimes, we just lack the words to our feelings, and Scripture guides us to right thinking.

3 Ways Reading and Praying Scripture Strengthens Our Faith

  1. Through reading Scripture, we see how others walked by faith with God. We are given their stories and words as an example, encouragement, and hope to persevere to the end. We have a history of God’s faithfulness recorded to other humans who walked this earth, dealt with the same human temptations and trials that humans today do, and we can see how they interacted with God in different situations. Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Read the hall of fame in Hebrews 11 for a list of less-than-perfect, people of faith. Scripture points us to understand our humanity and ongoing growth process. Pray for God to encourage your heart; remind you of truth; lay aside every weight…talk to Him about what you are reading…this is a conversation. 🙂
  2. Through reading Scripture, we are strengthened in hope. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 5:4, “And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Reading this leads our hearts and minds to ask God to give us this confident hope of our salvation; to help us endure through trials; to grow us up in our faith.
  3. Through reading Scripture, we are able to stand strong and resist the entanglements of life. We are shown what sins to avoid and what good to pursue. We are challenged to live holy, in the likeness of our holy God. Without practical application, doctrine is head knowledge, not wisdom. James 1:5 encourages us to ask for wisdom, trusting that He will give it. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” And in John 17:17, Jesus asks the Father to “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” If we want to know God and the peace He brings, we need to read our Bibles.

Let us never forget that God is who we worship. Our disciplines do not define or identity us; they lead us to the truth. Our time and intentions are the way God designed for us to draw near in these human vessels. If we can let go of the how much, when, where, and focus on the who and the why…then we will begin to fall in love with our Savior, hungering and thirsting after what truly is life-giving, and live in the confident hope and peace He has already given through the Spirit for us to have.

If you would like my personal example of how I read and pray through Scripture and look at the context of the passages I am reading, check out my new prayer guide, Consider: Reflecting on the Words of Scripture that includes 52 prayers and beautiful one-of-a-kind photographs to enjoy. You can also read more about the book and the story behind it here.

It takes time to build any healthy relationship, so keep pursuing the things of God, and one day you will look back and see how far God has grown you and how your perspective shifts from “have to” to “love to”. I will be praying for you. Let me know if I can help you further in any way…we are in this journey together.

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  • Veronica

    Thank you for the encouraging words Terri! I’ve run into this many times- wanting to take the easy way. But, it never works. Faithfulness is usually uncomfortable and outside our control, but it’s also the most rewarding.

  • Janet

    United in Him.. what love from the Father as He sets us in His family, equipped in love and by His Word.. I am forever grateful for the day I asked to know Him more! He is faithful.. you say it well here, “Growth begins with praying for God to increase our appetite — and He will! No one can help us know God personally. They can point us in His direction, but we alone must come, seeking to abide, worship, and be satisfied.” thank you Terri for your faithfulness and obedience to His calling.

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