Read Your Bible Pray Every Day Or You’ll Shrink?
Do you remember that catchy little children’s church song we all sang about reading our Bible everyday?
“Read your Bible.
Pray every day (repeat 3 times).
Read your Bible.
Pray every day.
And you’ll grow, grow, grow (repeat 3 times).
Don’t read your Bible.
Forget to pray (repeat 3 times).
Don’t read your Bible.
Forget to pray.
And you’ll shrink, shrink, shrink (repeat 3 times).”
I’ve got to admit it’s been stuck in my head for the last 20 years. Not so much the tune itself as the message of fear it projects surrounding spending time with God.
I had heard, and for a long time I had believed, that spending an hour with the Lord each day was the “godliest” way, especially if it’s in the morning.
I always struggled with the guilt of not spending enough time in my devotions. I was pretty good at having a daily commitment to some form of structured quiet time though… and, the day or two that I would miss each year I would repent profusely.
Looking back I realize that though I was an extremely devoted daily Bible reader, the devotion was mostly due to not feeling guilty, accidentally “shrinking” spiritually and trying to make God happy with me rather than devotion to knowing Jesus Himself.
It turns out there are no mandates for how and when to spend time with God. When we turn daily devotions into a mandated duty we lose the deep intimacy. When the fear of spiritually shrinking is what keeps us regular... we lose the romance. Instead of basing our relationship on what God has done for us the relationship is based on what God might do to us if we don’t keep up with the ritual.
I am beginning to look at my relationship with God more like a mutual, loving romance rather than a ritualistic guilt subsider. And it turns out that the Spirit’s wooing is a lot stronger motivation for me to spend regular time with Jesus than guilt ever was. Just like a healthy marriage, I connect with God daily; but, life does not always allow for hour long, scheduled, intimate moments.
I often do have planned meetings and alone times with God, but now there is more of a sense of “doing life” together. I find myself talking with God more often throughout the day, as needed and as wanted. Sometimes I am the one who seeks God out and other times God seeks me out for conversation and special times together. Overall, it is beginning to feel more natural and intimate, more relational vs. ritualistic. And as the fear and guilt are beginning to subside, the connection is growing stronger.