My daily study: Different yet similar
Does the morning quiet time with reading and prayer, so beloved to many Christian Scientists, go away when you leave Science to become a biblical Christian? It needn’t and shouldn’t. Today (March 31), with Easter approaching, my wife and I and our son all studied from a Bible guide that included Matthew 26, Psalm 55, Lamentations 3, I Corinthians 11 (“As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come”). Tomorrow we’ll be given a fresh but related group of Scriptures to read and pray over.
The study outline is from a little periodical we have discovered: the Daily Devotional Guide, published four times a year by the Fellowship of St. James, an ecumenical alliance of traditional Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox. At their website you’ll also find the Daily Reflections online study notes by Patrick Reardon, a fine Bible scholar, and links to their two excellent magazines on Christianity and culture, Touchstone and Salvo.
For over 40 years I faithfully and fruitfully read each day the Bible lessons in the Christian Science Quarterly. But when at last I realized the Science and Health portion of those readings was not just diluting but distorting and falsifying the biblical Word of God, I quit studying those “lesson-sermons.” I’ve been grateful for the past decade or so, to have in place of them this alternative, and theologically sound, quarterly study guide from the Fellowship of St. James.
As for daily prayer, it takes a number of forms throughout each day for me and Donna, from first waking to last words before sleep. I’ll blog about that separately some time soon. Specifically in connection with morning Bible study, I have devised (with the help of friends and mentors) a set formal prayer to say before starting the day’s reading, and another to say upon concluding. They go this way:
Before beginning to study:
Father, I come now to your word in Scripture, praying it would enter my mind that I know what You would have me do, my will that I am moved to do it, and my heart that I love the doing of it and hate any disobedience to it. This is my only true food. Please nourish me with it for today. I pray you would humble me to obey You and strengthen me to serve You — cleanse my sins, heal my hurts, shield me from harm. Arm and armor me to fight well today as your soldier for the Cross of Christ, for the Church his body, and for his glorious kingdom that is to come.
Father thanks for feeding me with your word. Let it burn in me like a fire and stir in me like a song, hour by hour today. I pray it will medicine me and nourish me in the way You know I need, by your will not mine. Let it repel me from doing wrong and impel me to do right. Shield me from the selfishness, temptation, and distraction that steal away your word. Keep me ever active in serving You by serving your people. In Christ’s name, amen.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org