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For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid,
which is Jesus the Messiah.

1 Corinthians 3:11

How to Develop Personal Prayer/Bible Study Times

Thoughts on how to develop personal times of study, meditation, and devotion using the Scriptures.  These suggestions are intended to help you learn to converse with your Lord using the Bible and make study of the Word something more than just a ritualistic discipline that you "have" to do in order to be considered a "good" Christian.  God is really awesome when you get to know Him.. and yet the disciplines that would draw us into deeper fellowship and intimacy with Him are the most neglected by Christians in America.  We must make an effort to pursue God in a relationship-- or we will remain religiously dull and never grow spiritually. Hopefully these suggestions will help you put into the practice the command to "abide in Him" ...
Come to a Person
When you come to the Bible, know and understand that you are coming to a REAL, LIVING, LOVING PERSON:  a Father who sits upon a throne, His Son who sits at His right hand, and the Holy Spirit who breathed and authored the Bible itself and who now lives with you and in you....

A common mistake we can all make is to come to the Bible for INFORMATION or THEOLOGICAL TRUTH as the primary goal... if we only come to the Bible for theological knowledge, our hearts will grow cold and even resistant in many cases to the activity of the Spirit of God!  What we must have is fresh, regular, and living contact with a PERSON through the WORD.

Scripture Points Us to JESUS... the Author and Giver of Life
John 5:37-47
37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you--Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"

Those Who Thirst For More of God Come to JESUS
John 7:37-39
37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "
If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

Those Who Are Given By the Father Come to JESUS
John 6:36-39
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

The YOKE of JESUS is NOT the Heavy Yoke of Religion
Matthew 11:25-30
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Come with the Word and Pray/Read the Bible
As you read the Bible there are many ways to study, meditate, and absorb the truth of the word.  In order for the Word of God to be a living reality in our hearts, we must not come with a humble heart, ready to receive instruction and lovingly talking with the Lover of our Soul.  There are two truths that many times can be seen clearly in the Scripture and two separate responses we can take to both as we read and talk with the Lord.

Scriptures that Command Us to
BELIEVE or KNOW Something

   [1] Thank the LORD for the PROMISE of His Word
   [2] Ask the LORD to open up your understanding to
         that truth or PROMISE

Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus the Messiah, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation... (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

[1] Thank you Father that you I am in Jesus and that all of the old things in my life are being made new by you.  Thank you that I really am a brand new creation!  All of my sins have all been cleansed and washed away.... I really do belong to You and all things are new.

[2] Father, open my eyes to really see just how much of my life has already been changed, how much is currently being made new, and even how much is going to eventually be brand new.  Help me Father to see that my habits and addictions and sins are all passed away, and that I am truly free from them.  Help me to understand this truth, Lord, that I am a new creation.  Help me understand the working of the Spirit that makes me reconciled to you fully... how clean I am, how free I am, and how utterly secure I am in Jesus!

Scriptures that Command Us to
DO or OBEY Something

  [1]  Commit yourself to OBEY the Word
  [2]  Ask the LORD to EMPOWER you to fulfill His will
         and Word

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

[1] Father, today I commit myself to not let anger or jealousy poison my relationships.   I will try today to keep my tongue from speaking evil or gossiping about people.  I will try to be kind and tender to those that I am normally impatient with.  Thank you that you forgave me of all my sins, and I commit today to also forgive people when they wrong me.

[2] LORD, give me grace to not return evil for evil today and help me to forgive those who may wrong me.  Father help me by your Spirit to put a guard on my mouth and watch my words.  Fill me with your kindness Father to those that are not kind or may not even deserve it.  Help me Father to be kind and tender to my family, friends, and coworkers today.  Help me today to not be bitter or jealous at what others have and keep my eyes from looking at what I do not have.  Thank you Lord for empowering me to obey your Word and filling me with your Spirit.

Come with Music and Worship
Many people speak about a "quiet" time with the LORD every day.  It is true that in advanced stages of prayer, quiet and silence is actually desired.  However, for those that are just beginners at prayer, worship and having a focus on God through worship can go a long way in making your times of communion with the Lord more enjoyable and delightful! This time does NOT have to be quiet at all!  Listening to anointed praise and worship music while you read and talk to the Lord with Scripture is actually a very natural method of Bible study. 

1 Corinthians 14:15
What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

Hebrew 13:15
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

Psalms 105:1-4
Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!  Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!  Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!  Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore!

The Psalmist describes a form of seeking God where we call upon His name, sing to Him, glory in Him, seek His strength, seek His face, and rejoice in our heart!  Music combined with prayer, worship, and study of the Scripture is the ideal vehicle to do all of these!  Music is powerful and was designed by God as an entry way into His presence.  When combined with praise to God and meditation on the Word with tender words of worship and love, a "quiet" time can become very enriching. You can actually move from reading the Bible, speaking to the Lord, singing portions of Scripture to the Lord, and then speaking and singing words of love back and forth--all part of a prayer time. 

The idea of Harp and Bowl worship is centered on the combination of God's truth with God's music... and is rooted in the use of prayers directly from the New Testament.
Come with a Heart of Love and Devotion
Above all else, come to the LORD with desire to know Him more and fall in love with Him.  If you come to God with a desire to give yourself fully to Him for His purposes, you will find that He is waiting to give Himself fully and completely to YOU!  Seek Him, pursue Him, and press into His heart until His nature has been pressed into your heart.  This is the definition of the Christian life:  to love God and to become like Him in all that we do, say, and think.  There are many reasons for personal Bible study, but in the end, only love for God will transform you and cause you to put into practice His Word and do His will. 

Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Psalms 31:23-24
Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart.

Psalms 116:1-2
I love the LORD, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

Come with a Notebook/Journal
Many believers record their times of interaction with the Lord in a journal.  The journal can be computerized or on paper.  Writing down your thoughts about the Bible, as you talk, worship, and pray, can be a very powerful tool to discern the voice of the LORD speaking to you.  It is also a way to help express longings in your heart and learn how to develop "language" with the LORD as you share your life with Him and as He comes to transform you into His likeness.

As you formulate a list of Scriptures to pray on a regular basis, you will want to study, meditate, and understand the meaning of a Scriptural prayer or passage.  Then, use your notebook to rewrite the passage or prayer in your own words and personalize it.  This is also a very effective means to commune with the Lord and grow in prayer.
Schedule Your Time
The most basic reason that most people who want to read their Bible and spend time with the Lord on a daily basis is simply that they do not make time or schedule it!  It's that simple:  if you do not make time on your calendar, you are not likely to spend the time.  Something else will always take precedence in our "spare" time.  We must schedule a meeting time and place with His Majesty... preferably alone. Start with 15 minutes... it's better than 0 minutes!  Try for 30 minutes and then increase your allotted time... This becomes much easier as we find out how to fill this time and what to fill it with.  Ultimately, though, you have to make spending time with God a priority or it will not be a priority in your life!
Come with a Personal Prayer List
Once your time is scheduled and you have made a personal commitment to spend time with the Lord, many of us then have another hurdle:  what do we do with an hour?  How can we pray for 10, 30, 50 minutes?  Believe it or not, praying for 2 hours is pleasurable when your heart has been conditioned in the right approach and the right language of approach to God.  BUT, we must all start somewhere.

There are 3 basic categories of prayer, and a prayer list can have Scripturally based :
Intercession Prayer for others that is focused on spiritual breakthrough, whether in a geographic area or for an individual.  Intercession is the primary cry for the release of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a city or church body, for revival of believers, and for salvation of the lost.

The prayers of intercession found in the New Testament that were prayed directly by His Majesty and the apostles had in almost every case three distinctions.  They were:
    1) To God
    2) For the Christians in a city
    3) For revival

Thy kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...
Supplication Prayer for personal circumstances and needs.  It is the "predominant" form of prayer that most Christians learn.  It asks God for the day to day provisions of health, finances, protection, blessing, and deliverance from evil.  We ask God to forgive us when we mess up, to give us grace to obey and have victory over sin, and help us to

Give us this day our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. 
Contemplation Prayer that is personal and devotional in nature.  It is focused primarily on personal communion with God and developing intimacy with the Godhead that leads to our spiritual transformation.  This is the most "neglected" form of prayer in the West, but yet it is the most needed and desired by God for us on an individual level.  Our paradigm of God directly determines our growth in contemplative prayer.  He is both a Father and a Bridegroom God of passionate love... and we cannot be intimate with God on this level without sometimes many religious strongholds being torn down.

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name... Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one, for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

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