When we become Christians we also make a commitment to be followers or disciples of Jesus. God’s ultimate plan for all disciples is that we become like Jesus and this takes us on a journey of growth.
Spiritual disciplines are a form of training necessary for the maturity of the disciple (Hebrew 12:11); they are like the sacks that carry the food we need for our journey to becoming like Jesus.
There are different spiritual disciplines like remaining in God’s word, prayer, fasting, and solitude, but this article will focus on remaining in God’s Word. This is no attempt to undermine the other spiritual disciplines since no spiritual discipline is less important than the other. They all carry equal relevance for living a Christ-centered life.
The Word of God provides knowledge of God and His will for us. His words and instructions are not empty but they give life to all who live in obedience to it (Deuteronomy 32:46) but how can we obey Him if we do not know what He requires of us? There are various ways by which a believer can imbibe God’s word. These have been illustrated by the Navigator tool, the Word Hand. It shows five different ways we can take in God’s word: hearing, reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on it.
Hearing: We hear God’s word when we listen to a sermon at church or even play an audio version of the Bible. It plays a subtle but powerful role in birthing faith in a person and ultimately ushering the person into the presence of the Father through Jesus Christ ( Romans 10:17). Paul says, And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14).
Reading: Reading the scriptures provides the disciple with the exclusive privilege of seeing the truth of God’s word for himself. It gives the disciple first-hand contact with the Word ( Psalms 119:19). We see Paul admonishing the young believer, Timothy, to give himself to reading the scriptures even in his absence (1 Timothy 4:13). We too do not need the supervision of a priest to read God’s word. We can do that in our homes, on the bus or anywhere we find ourselves.
Studying: When we study God’s word, we have the classic opportunity of paying attention to and exploring the details in God’s word (Psalms 119:18). God’s truth teaches, rebukes, corrects and trains the disciple to be thoroughly equipped for every good work ( 2 Timothy 2:15-16) and the more we spend time studying it, the clearer his instructions become to us .
Memorizing: ‘I will not forget thy word’ says the Psalmist in Psalms 119:16 and one may wonder if this is only an ambitious goal. Transferring God’s word from the pages of the Bible to the mind and heart is how we can ensure that we don’t forget it and we can achieve this by memorization. For the Psalmist also, this was his strategy for achieving victory over temptation (Psalms 119:11).
Meditation: Our busy lives make meditating on Scripture all the more expedient. Every day we make decisions about our lives and each one of these decisions we make is crucial to our identity as disciples of Christ. Joshua was instructed to meditate on the scriptures day and night and to be careful to obey everything in it, not because he had to preach to a congregation, but because he was a servant and a leader, he was a man whose decisions would affect the nation of Israel. God wanted him to lead the nation to know Him and walk in obedience to Him. Hence, His instruction to Joshua to meditate on His word day and night. God wanted Joshua to build his life and everything that pertained to him on God’s word. Like Joshua, God calls on all of us who are disciples of Christ to meditate on His word day and night so that we may be careful to obey Him to prosper and succeed in everything we do (Joshua 1:8).
As you think about your relationship with God, why don’t you consider how you can benefit from the rich treasures found in God’s word? How can you include these ways of taking in God’s word in your life?