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Pointers along the way #297

Why pray and read the Bible?
- Jacob Ninan

"You are reading the Bible and praying so much. But still you have many problems and you are also not perfect," people tell Christians. Yes, it is true what they say, but that is not to say that we need not pray or read the Bible. A lot of people pray or do religious exercises to avoid trouble and to ensure a smooth life. But trouble still comes. God doesn't promise a trouble free life here on earth even to His children (Jn.16:33), and His Son Jesus didn't have it easy either! No amount of prayer or spiritual rigour can ensure a trouble free life. What Jesus promises is even though we will have trouble, He will be with us to take us through.

And we aren't going to become perfect either, while on earth. We are in a process of development and growth, and we shall be making mistakes even with the best of intentions (Jas.3:2). People have a way of looking at us with microscopes when we profess to be children of God, and they are quick to point out when we fall. We can take these taunts as reminders to walk closer to the Lord, but we needn't lose our sleep over them.

But we go on reading the Bible, praying and seeking the Lord more and more earnestly as we see our own weaknesses and need. We need these to sustain and hold us up, and we also need to know the Lord better and walk closer with Him as times become more difficult (2Ti.3:1). It is our great privilege to know Him personally, and it is our relationship with Him that means everything to us. He is our strength and it is to Him that we run in the time of our need. Without Him we are weak and helpless, and we cling to Him for life itself. And it is through constant interactions with Him through prayer, reading His word, etc., that we grow in this relationship.

Christian life is like pedalling up a hill on a bicycle. If we stop pedalling, we begin to slide down; we can't stand still. When we don't progress closer towards the Lord each day, backsliding is always close to us, much closer than we imagine.

People who don't care so much for prayer or reading the Bible are already on the slide down, without realising it. Their minds are getting away from the Lord and getting to be driven by human opinions, their own feelings, etc. They may think everything is alright when things are going smoothly. But they will suddenly recognise their spiritual poverty when trouble hits them. Then they will rush to their friends (who had been praying and reading the Bible seriously) for help like the foolish virgins to the wise ones in the parable (Mt.25:1). The foolish and the wise virgins both knew that the bridegroom was coming and that they would need oil for their lamps. But the foolish ones imagined that everything would turn out OK anyway.

When we prepare ourselves spiritually, facing trouble is not our first goal, even though that is what many are concerned about. What we want is to get to know this lovely Person that our Lord is, and to enjoy our fellowship with Him better and better.