Chewing - Rethinking Bible Study and Prayer
Ever since I had to preach on Mark 1:35, where we see Jesus spend 3+ hours praying, I have been trying to have a more intentional approach to my daily prayer and Bible study. But there isn't a single verse that says how long we should pray or study the Bible every day.
How then does God's word guide us in these two crucial Christian practices?
Let's try to find a pattern in the Scripture that addresses this question:
Joshua 1:8 - This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful, and then you will be prosperous.
Psalm 119:97 - "Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day."
1 Peter 2:2 - Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.
Psalm 55:17 - Evening and morning and at noon, I will bring my complaint and moan, and He will hear my voice.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Ephesians 6:18 - Pray at all times with all prayer and petition in the Spirit, and to this end, being on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.
Notice how similar the verses on Bible reading and praying are. When it comes to the Bible, the Bible teaches us to meditate on it throughout the day and desire it all the time. Likewise, for prayer, the Bible teaches us to pray constantly.
If a believer is doing both those things, meditating on the Bible and praying to God constantly throughout the day, his mind is in a state of constant relationship with God. In much the same way that some animals ruminate on their food constantly throughout the day, humans are designed to "chew" on the things of God all the time.
The Bible suggests that the morning may be the best time to begin a focused time of prayer and Scripture reading (Psalm 5:3; 63:1; 119:147-148; 143:8; Isaiah 50:4; Mark 1:35). But as we have free moments throughout the day, these are opportunities to return to the truths we have read and the prayers we have prayed. By meditating on our earlier study or expanding on our morning prayers, we can give God's word a deeper level of attention and give our own prayers a more comprehensive expression to God.