Practice Makes Perfect

Most of us get up in the morning, look at our calendar and say, “I got this. I can handle this kind of day. This day doesn’t have any pressure.” And so you don’t spend as much time in prayer. You don’t spend as much time in the study of the Word.

And the storm comes unexpectedly. You never expect the phone call to come on Tuesday, do you? And all of a sudden your day changes. All of a sudden what you thought was routine isn’t routine. The winds pick up. Your little boat starts taking on water, and the first thing you want to know is, “Where’s Jesus? I can’t find Him when I need Him.” It’s because you’re out of practice.

You do those things in practice so they become so habitual, so habit, that you will do them without thinking. Remember, Jesus prepared in prayer. You and I have that same opportunity to spend the time we need to in prayer to be ready for when those moments come. You’re in one of three places in your life. You’re either in the storm, just out of the storm, or about to go into one.

That’s the three places where all of us live. And the moments when it is quiet, the moments when it is easy or routine—those are the moments we have to prepare. Those are the moments we have to practice—to practice the presence, to practice our listening, to practice our obedience—so that when the storm comes, we’re ready.

How to Get Started with Prayer

Developing habits of prayer are essential to the disciple’s life. It looks like this:

1. Find a place and a time, then start showing up there every day. The experts tell us it takes 21 days to fix a habit in place. Show up at the same time and place for 21 days and you’ll develop the holy habit of prayer.

2. What do you do when you get to your place and time of prayer? Focus your mind by reading Scripture. The Psalms are the prayer book of the Bible. It’s a great place to start. If you’re new to reading the Bible, begin with the Gospel of Mark. It’s a quick, easy read and you’ll find out a lot about the ministry of Jesus in a very short time.

3. Pray using the acronym ACTS:

A = adoration
C = confession
T = thanksgiving
S = supplications (praying for what you need)

Remember—every day at the same place and same time. We want to get to the place where we can stop thinking about speaking to Jesus and actually start speaking with Him.

If you miss a day, don’t worry about it. Get back into it as soon as you can. Soon the day will come when you never think about missing it.

Now you have the plan.

Here’s A Thought: Read The Bible

From time to time, people will ask for the title of a book they should read to help their faith. They realize that in some areas of their discipleship, they need to deepen their understanding.

For some reason, everyone seems to be surprised by my answer. “Read the Bible.” Whatever book a person may choose to read will always be tested on the anvil of Scripture. The book’s validity will be confirmed or dismissed by the way the authors align their insights to the truth in revealed Scripture.

Yes, there are a lot of books. Yes, there are a lot of good books. I hope you read, and read a lot.

Yet, in NO way does any book replace the Bible in ANY way in the life of the believer. Period.

If you have time to only read one book, read the Bible.

Only the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

Only the Bible is the revealed World of God. What I mean by that is the Bible is where God has chosen to reveal Himself in the witness about God’s greatest revelation—Jesus Christ.

Start with gospels. Read them, and then read them again. Let the words and actions of Jesus be burned into your heart and mind. Know for yourself what Jesus actually said and what He meant in the context of His teachings.

Read the Psalms. Read Proverbs and Romans. Read every book, and then read it again.

God has given us His book. The mysterious wonder of reading Scripture is that we open this Holy Book in the presence of the Author. As we open the Bible, Christ has promised to meet us in our conversation with the text.

Sure, Jesus can do anything He wants, and yes, He can meet you anywhere He wants, but it’s been my experience that Christ meets me—and I meet Him—most consistently when I’m reading my Bible.

So, if you want to know more about Jesus, read the Bible. Want to better understand humanity and yourself? Read the Bible. Want to know the secret to a life well lived? Read the Bible.

Now you have my best suggestion on what book you should read—the Bible. I’ve been reading the Bible almost all of my life and yet, in most ways, I feel like I’m just beginning. Reading the Bible is the most fascinating and life-transforming experience you will ever have.

What are you waiting for? Pick up your Bible and start reading.