I’ve heard people say it over and over again. “Boy, I can tell if I miss my devotions. I just have the worst day.” And for awhile, I misunderstood that statement to mean only people who failed to do their morning Bible reading ended up with days when everything unravels at both ends.
I remember realizing my misunderstanding for the first time. On a particular day a few years ago when everything was unraveling, I desperately prayed to God, “Why is this happening? I even had my devotions this morning!”
As soon as the words left my mouth, the pang of conviction stopped me in my prayer. I was, in a sense, blaming God for not coming through on His end of the bargain. The bargain was one that I had unknowingly established, which said God was entitled to give me a good day if I set aside time to pray and read His Word.
And I knew, in that instant, that God wasn’t entitled to give me a good day or bless my efforts or provide smooth sailing. Nothing I did could entitle God to do anything. He was the One at work in my life, and it was HIS work and HIS plan, not something I had contracted out to Him. If He decided that trying days would best conform me to His image, then my day would be nothing less than “refining.”
On the other hand, what were devotions and quiet times good for? Why was I supposed to faithfully study the Bible and pray?
I’ve come up with a short list of reasons that I have found to be true over the years.
- It clues me into God’s plan. I get a glimpse of what God is trying to accomplish in my life, and I can trust His promise that He will complete that work. As I study the Bible, I see the nature of the work He is doing and get an idea, from other characters in the Bible, how God will go about accomplishing that work in my life.
- It sustains the Spirit’s work. In temptation, the Spirit can only remind me of passages that I have read and studied. During trials, the Spirit can only comfort me with Scriptures that I am familiar with.
- It reveals the One who is at work. If nothing else, studying the Bible reveals to me the God of the Bible, the One who is at work in my life. Only through knowing Him can I have the assurance and the confidence that He is good, that He is merciful, that He is faithful, that He is the “I Am” of all that I will ever need.
Will studying God’s word daily guarantee that I’ll walk on water while everyone else is fighting storms? Not in the least. But that quiet time with God will be the outstretched arm I need when I’m sinking below the waves.