Want to get closer to Jesus? Attending church helps, but the proven ways to really connect are in your daily life rather than in weekly worship in church. I know you are busy, but the busier you are, the more you need to carve out time each day to be with God. The proven method is simply this: Read the Bible and Pray every day. That’s it.
How not to use the Bible
The reason is that when life gets tough and we need answers, the Bible is a poor guide. The text wasn’t designed to work that way. There is no chapter or book on raising children or on dealing with problems in your marriage. The Bible is not a troubleshooting guide for life. The Bible is God’s living word created to speak to your heart each day. This is the story of God’s love for us and the story is meant to be read again and again so that we see the pattern in scripture of God’s unfailing love and then see it in our lives. The people I see who weather the storms of life well are those who have been marinating their hearts in the Bible for years. Folk like that don’t need a chapter or verse to know God will be faithful when times are tough. They know that truth in their bones. The way to get there, is to begin with baby steps.
Start small and reward yourself
Building new habits takes time. Make this one easy on yourself. If you are not used to reading the Bible, try reading your way through the Gospel of Luke. Read just one chapter each day for 24 days and you can build a new habit. Build in a reward. Read the chapter for the day and then treat yourself in some small way, such as with a piece of chocolate. After 24 days, move on to another Gospel. Once you are through all four, you will have spent months following Jesus.
Central to our identity as Episcopalians are Morning and Evening Prayer, which are known as the Daily Offices. These short prayer services have a pattern of scripture reading that will have you reading most of the Bible in two years. After months with the Gospels, you will be ready for Morning or Evening Prayer.
Praying these Daily Offices and reading the Bible with the lectionary that goes with them is to be practiced by all clergy and remains the norm for laity. Typically our churches have copies of Forward Day by Day, which offers reflections for each day to fit the same readings as found in the office. You can also find Morning and Evening Prayer online with the readings in place here:
The Church’s Role – Teach and Model
As congregations, if we are not teaching those who attend worship some practical ways to make our Triune God part of their daily lives, then we are teaching by omission that attending church is all there is to the life of faith. This is not only untrue, it is not fair as that sort of faith will not meet the demands of the real world. We know that daily scripture reading and prayer draw us each closer to God. Let’s be honest and both teach and model that these spiritual disciplines are important to our life of faith and will add immensely to the benefits of weekly worship.
-The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon to the Ordinary