Where To Begin (ATP)
This week’s question is one we’ve all had, “I don’t know where to start when reading my Bible & praying. I am having a really hard time getting into prayer & the Word.”
Before I answer this question I want to say a few things. Our job as pastors is to help the people who God brings to us. This comes in a few ways. First, we do this by preaching and teaching the Word by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Second, we do this by people who are struggling or need further instruction reaching out to us. IF OUR PEOPLE NEED HELP AND DO NOT REACH OUT TO US WE CANNOT HELP! I want to stress this, that we are here to help people but only those who choose to get it will be helped. Our desire as pastors is to help everyone in our sheepfold. We love you all, and this is our joy!
That said, let’s look at this question. I also want to add, even if you are experiencing a close relationship with God through Word time and prayer time, the answers to this question will help and bless you. Here is my approach to God, and I continually remind myself of it. God is love. We are His affection. If you wanted desperately to reach the object of your affection, you would make it as easy as possible, wouldn’t you? The truth is, if we struggle with the Word and prayer it is usually because we have overcomplicated it. It is not hard. Basically, prayer is us talking with God and the Word is God talking to us.
Let’s focus on prayer first. Prayer is simply communicating with God. When we do so we should not put on airs but simply go to Him the way we would anyone else we love. When my wife comes home from work, I don’t just start asking her for stuff but we start conversing. I greet her, tell her I love her, share things that matter that I haven’t gotten to talk about. We so often ritualize our relationship with God that we forget He just wants to hear from us. Now there are many types of prayer, more than I can answer here, but if you’re just starting off you need to focus on the basics. If you have been praying faithfully for years, do not forget the basics. Have a relationship with God that is enjoyable. Prayer is not a task but time to commune with the Creator of everything! That can be very interesting!
Now as far as the Word goes, I love something I was taught early in my walk. Read the Word prayerfully. What does that mean? Go to the Word like you are having a conversation with God. Ask the questions, “Lord, what do You have for me today?”, and “What things are You trying to teach me?” When you approach the Word expecting God to speak to you, He will. The best place to start reading is where your pastor has been preaching. People who sit in church and never take notes are people who don’t really want to learn much. God delivers messages to us all every single service. I once sat in a church where there was no anointing and no Word preached yet God still spoke to me because I came hungry. Your pastor, at least in this church, is preaching under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Therefore if you are called here, here is where your answers will be.
When I first started attending Family Church I worked in a factory. Every Monday at first break I would take out my notes from Sunday along with my Bible. I would reread things that had stuck out to me during service and reread the scriptures Pastor went to, thinking about what he taught on and how he broke them down. Soon I found myself preaching to people I worked with and people even started coming to me for answers. I’ll never forget that once a coworker said to me, “You should become a preacher!” I replied, “Nah, I’m not called to that!” If only I knew! If you want further reading, start with what we call the epistles or the letters to the churches. These are all in the New Testament and are basically the books of the Bible that are named after a group of people (i.e. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, etc.).
If you read scripture prayerfully, spend time starting to pray, and ASK YOUR PASTOR FOR HELP, there is no reason you shouldn’t be up and running without frustration in no time. This is good whether you are just starting off or have been a Christian for 100 years. Even today, when I am with my pastor, I ask questions. In fact when I am with any minister I’m connected to I ask questions. You’d be surprised how much God wants to get over to you if you are even a little hungry!
So to summarize, don’t make it hard. Tell God you struggle and you want to understand, and believe He will help you. Ask questions and take notes. God loves you and wants you to know! Only the devil tries to make hard.