Serving God and others at church—teaching little ones in Sunday school, preaching to your congregation, counseling hurting people, or helping others learn how to do deep Bible study—can be deeply fulfilling. Likely, those you minister to are grateful for the insight you’ve provided and the difference your work has made in their lives.
But it can also be time-consuming—and sometimes, spiritually draining.
Perhaps you relate.
Are you continually pouring into others, but your own spiritual well has run dry? Is your personal quiet time with God almost nonexistent, and has ministry begun to feel like just another job? Are you finding it hard to separate all the prep for others with your own spiritual walk, or worse, have you lost sight of the reason you do what you do—Jesus—in the everyday grind?
Kay Arthur, an international Bible teacher who has helped millions of people discover the truth of God’s Word for themselves through inductive Bible study, share’s how she’s able to integrate lesson preparation with her own spiritual walk. In this interview excerpted from Bible Study Magazine, you’ll learn how.
Arthur gets her coffee and begins her day in the Word. “I have a little sitting area in my bedroom that is my place with God. I sit down, look out the window and just thank him for this time to listen to his word. And it’s then you realize nothing else matters—he is our sovereign Lord, and we are his bondservants! My quiet time is always in the Bible, book by book. I have an inductive study Bible, which has large spacing and margins for notes, and instructions for studying each book. I have a pen, pencil, and colored marking pens.
“There was a time in the Christian world where it was considered unspiritual to spend your quiet time with God studying Scripture, as if that were less spiritual than prayer. When tempted by the devil, Jesus said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matt 4:4 ESV). Quiet time is remembering that he is God. I’m going to listen to him, talk to him, commit my way unto him, and remember that he is God. I want to start my day with him on my mind and on my heart. Although I begin with time in his Word, there are times when I read other books the Spirit of God leads me to.
“One of my treasures is On This Day by Robert J. Morgan—it’s 365 days of Christian history with stories about saints, martyrs, and heroes. I love the old biographies and learn so very much from them that inspires me to press on.”
Most recently, Arthur has focused her reading on the letter to the Galatians as she prepares to write a study on the book. “Galatians has put me on my face before God. During a special period of seeking the Lord in prayer—because that was the weakest thing in my devotional time—I spent a lot of time meditating on Galatians 2:20 and praying it back to the Lord: ‘I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me’ ” (NASB).
Integrating your message prep with your spiritual walk
Arthur doesn’t feel the need to separate her devotional time from message preparation. “I pray as I go through the Scriptures. I just talk to God about what I’m doing. As thoughts come to me, I jot them down. Or I’ll talk to God about the message he wants me to deliver to this particular group of people. It’s all integrated. If I’m just reading but not studying, is that sacred? If I’m using what I’ve read or using what I’m preparing, is that profane? To me, all of life is his and should be led by his Spirit.”
The years she spent immersing herself in Scripture have continued to enrich her devotional life. “I’ll be reading one passage, and the Holy Spirit will bring another verse to mind, putting two pieces of Scripture together in my heart. God’s Word is him talking to us. Prayer without the Word is a one-sided conversation. I pray my studies will help other Christians develop a similar devotion and passion to know and live by every word that has come from the mouth of God.
“I believe we’re in a generation of biblical illiteracy. I believe it’s our greatest sin and our greatest weakness. If I’m not in the Word, then I am running on my own steam, thoughts, and impressions. Some Christians are bypassing what is essential for life as God means it to be lived. . . . They don’t realize that if they don’t know his Word, they don’t know God. They’re building their house on sand instead of on the Rock, because the Rock is God; the Rock is Jesus; the Rock is the Spirit; the Rock is truth. It’s so sad, because in our busyness, we’re excusing ourselves from studying his Word, which is the very truth that sets us apart, keeps us from the evil one, and propels us into the world to proclaim truth with confidence—no matter the cost—as we see in John 17:14–18.”
- Inductive Bible Study: How Kay Arthur Studies the Bible
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- Pastoral Burnout: Why Every Pastor Needs a Pastor
- Why In-Depth Bible Study Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
- Here’s Your Secret Weapon to Reach Bible Study Goals