“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly!” Colossians 3:16
Probably prayer is less neglected in devotions, than is the reading of the Bible. Many people who would not go out any morning without a few moments of prayer, will go forth day after day into the thick of life’s duties and perils, without reading even a verse of Scripture! They feel the necessity of asking God to keep, guide and bless them — but they fail to realize that it is in and through meditating on His Word, that God chiefly gives His richest and best blessings.
It is in His Word, that God reveals Himself. We cannot know what He is like, nor what the attributes of His character are — unless we ponder the Scriptures. We cannot learn what God’s will is, nor what He would have us to do and to be — if we do not look into His Word. There is nothing that we need more, than to hear God speaking to us every morning. This is possible, only as we open the Bible and let its words whisper their messages to us.
No matter how familiar we may be with the teachings of the Scriptures, we need to ponder them anew every morning to keep their pure ideals and lofty requirements ever before us, lest we allow our standard of holy living to be lowered.
A celebrated painter always kept some purely-colored stones on his table. When asked by a visitor why he did so, he said it was to keep his eye up to tone. When he was working in pigments, unconsciously his sense of color was weakened. By keeping a pure color near him he brought his eye up to tone again, just as the musician by his tuning-fork brings himself up to the right pitch. In the same way, we continually need to turn to God’s Word to keep our thoughts, and character, and life up to the true standard.
Rubenstein used to say that he could never omit his daily practice on the piano, for if he did, the quality of his playing would at once begin to deteriorate. He said that if he missed practice for three days — the public would know it; if he missed practice for two days — his friends would know it; and if he did not practice for even one day — he himself knew it!
It is no less true in Christian life, that in order to keep its holy tone up to what it should be, there must never be a break in the continuity of the study of God’s Word. If we leave off for only one day, we shall become conscious of a loss of power in living. If for two successive days we fail to look into God’s perfect law, our friends around us will notice the failure in the beauty, the sweetness and the grace of our character and disposition. If for three days we fail to study the Scriptures, to see how God would have us live, even the people of the world will see a lowering of the spiritual quality of our life!
One of the ways the Bible helps us, is by making Christ known to us. The noblest Christian is he before whose eyes, the character of Jesus shines in brightest splendor. Indeed, it is only when we have clear visions of Christ, that we really grow like Him.
“It seems to me,” says a writer, “that nowadays men think and talk too much about improving their own character — but meditate too little on the perfectness of the divine character.” Christ will never appear really great in our eyes, unless we make His Word our daily study. And only as He becomes great and glorious in our thought — will our character and standard of life be lifted up to what they should be.
Many of the blessings we seek in prayer, can come to us only through the Word of God:
We ask to be kept near the heart of Christ — but our Master tells us that only those who keep His commandments shall abide in His love. In order to keep His commandments, we must know them — and we can know them only by reading and re-reading them.
We ask God in the morning to guide us through the day, and in one of the psalms is the prayer, “Order my steps according to Your Word.” That is, God leads us by His Word. If then we do not read the words of God, how can we get His guidance?
The leading He promises is not general, by long stretches — but by little steps. The Psalmist says, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet.” It is not said that prayer is the lamp — but the Word. We must carry it in our hand, too, as one carries a lantern to throw its beams about his feet.
We pray to be kept from sin, and in the Scriptures one says, “Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Our prayers to be kept from sin, can be answered only by getting the Word of God into our heart!
These are suggestions of the necessity of reading the Bible daily, as well as of praying. Neither is complete in itself alone. We must talk to God — but we must also listen to God talk to us through His Word. We must pray for blessings — but only through the divine words of Scripture, can these blessings come to us.