Continued on-going daily prayer and bible reading are foundational to my life as a minister. I am, I must admit, scared of the stats that swirl around new ministers, especially those with kids. You’ve probably heard that a lot of us don’t make it to the 5 year mark. You may also have heard that far too many of us rarely pray on our own nor do we tend to read the bible all that much (outside of our public roles that is, of course we pray plenty with people, offer them bible quotes in pastoral settings, and prepare for sermons and bible studies).
I have made it a practice to do these things daily. Every. Single. Day. I have a bible reading schedule and I stick to it, never go more than a day away from it. I read books about loving the bible and the times I can spend with God if I just get up 45 minutes earlier than I really want to. I have found that when I get up, no matter how groggy I am, I am happy to rise from my warm bed to read the bible because it feeds me. Or to use a better analogy, it sustains me better than sleep itself, and if I skip it, I will miss it.
I recently read The Divine Mentor a book by Wayne Cordeiro, a minister that suffered a burnout a few years back and has written extensively on many issues. The Divine Mentor is intended to help people fall back in love with the bible. It’s premise is that many of us are seeking mentors (or role models) to show us both what to do and how to be, as well as what not to do. We need people to show us what they have learned so that we don’t fall needlessly into the same traps others have already discovered (like ministers ignoring their ouw spiritual health) and we can look to the characters in the bible rather than the characters in the world to help us with this.
The book advocates for practicing daily bible reading and journaling. I have journaled on and off over the years, but Cordeiro’s way of describing it, the benefits to his life and ministry he finds in it, and his relaxed approach to it all made me want to pick up a pen. For the past little while I have been writing our SOAP journal entries. A few weeks ago I preached about it and got the whole congregation to do it along with me using an insert in the bulletin. Soap is an acrostic S-cripture, O-bservation, A-pplication, P-rayer.
I have found it life-given and vocabulary building to do this. I have found that every day there is a single verse that jumps out to me, it’s like God’s little post-it note of the day for me. Everyday there is something He wants to tell. As I write things out I am becoming more precise in my language, more clear in my understanding, and hopefully that will translate into clarity when I am evangelizing, and when I am preaching.
It’s not earth shattering news to point out that daily bible reading and prayer are important, nor is journaling new. At the 6 month mark of my time here in Duncan I wanted to do two things. First, I wanted to assure everyone that I am still feeling spiritually vital and finding time to maintain the practices that matter to me. Secondly, I want to continue to encourage people to join me in daily prayers and readings, for the good of everyone’s souls and the good of our little church. No one can say our prayers for us, and if the church body isn’t praying and reading the bible then who will?
The Divine Mentor is available in our church library, and in many bookstores.
Hope to see you out at the many services and event we have planned over the next few days.