As the New Year begins this month many take the opportunity to “reset the clock” on some new habits or purpose for the New Year. Not sure if you are one that does New Year’s resolutions or if your yearly resolution is “I don’t do resolutions,” but I want to challenge you with a new habit (call it a resolution if you so desire) and encourage you to continue if you are already doing it regularly or semi-regularly. That habit and challenge is daily bible reading and prayer.

In the worship service on Christmas morning we looked at how one of the gifts received through the coming of Jesus Christ was the presence of God with us. Indeed his very name is Immanuel – God with us. What a blessing to have the God of heaven and earth coming to be with us – to save and redeem us. Indeed this salvation can be summarized in the covenant statement “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God” (Ex.6:7). In other words God enters into relationship and communion with us – his creatures. No other created beings have the nearness to God as we. Yet how we neglect this wonderful privilege secured to us on the cross of Calvary.

A daily time of Scriptural reading, meditation, and prayer is time to be with your Lord. To hear the voice of the Good Shepherd through the Scriptures, and to adore, worship, and magnify Him. It is also a time to lay your petitions at His feet knowing that He hears and cares for our concerns and requests. It is also time to “set you mind on things above, not on things that are on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

There are three essential keys if you are going to have this a regular part of your life. They are the following:
1) Time – Most would say this is the most difficult – having the time to do daily reading and prayer. But that is not what I am referring to here. We all have the time. We make time for things that are necessary and needful. When we set this as a necessary part of our life then it is not a matter of having time but setting a specific time to do it as a part of our daily schedule. For myself this is early mornings - because it is the part of my schedule that is the most regular and consistent. Yes this means rising earlier from bed that sometimes I would so desire but I am encouraged that our Lord did the same when he was on earth (Mk. 1:35). For others of you the night time may be best. The essential part is having a routine and routines are best when they are done daily at the same time.
2) Place – Like with setting a time, having a place to get-away to read and pray is key. Perhaps in a spare bedroom, office, den, or maybe outside when the weather is pleasant. A consistent spot that is designated as your place to be with the Lord. Obviously a place that is as free from distractions is essential.
3) Plan – Probably the most important part of this is having a plan on what to do when you spend this time together with the Lord. I liken it to going to the gym. If you go to the gym and do a little of this and a little of that, sure some is better than none. But it will probably be short-lived. But if you follow a workout plan your workouts will be much more thorough and complete. This is similar to bible reading. Having a plan to keep you on track will allow you to chart progress and have you read portions that you wouldn’t otherwise. That is why I highly suggest a Bible reading plan. On New Year’s Day we had a bible reading plan in the bulletin that has you go through the entire Bible in two years. Each day there is one chapter from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament. This keeps readings into manageable portions. Also here is two articles with Bible Reading Plan recommendations:
Find a plan that works for you and stick to it.

Anything worth doing requires time and attention. So as you think about the New Year and what you would like to see accomplished, do not neglect the spiritual nourishment of your soul. Indeed you will find that this daily routine and habit will bless all other aspects of your life.

Happy New Year and Blessed Bible Reading & Prayer!