I hope you have a blessed Holy Week celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. He revealed God’s heart of love on the Cross and provided a way to be reconciled to Him.
The last few weeks we’ve discussed four qualities essential for achieving our God-given destinies. They are needed to traverse the pains and tribulations of the 21st century. Number five brings them all together.
In 2 Peter 1:6, Peter encourages us, “And to your perseverance, add godliness.”
What is the key to becoming a godly person?
The Way of Godliness
There is only one way to become godly–to spend time with God. It’s based on the principle that we take on the characteristics of those we spend time with. The writer of the Proverbs said it this way: “Spend time with the wise and you will become wise, but the friends of fools will suffer” (Proverbs 13:20).
There are two important personal ways of spending time with God.
Be a Lover of Prayer
Prayer is talking to God and letting Him speak back to us. As good communication is a key to any human relationship, so it is vitally important to our most important relationship, that with our Creator and Savior. The more we talk, the more we feel comfortable in each other’s presence.
It’s the same in our relationship with God.
I’ve never met a man or woman committed to regular prayer who did not have an intimate relationship with the Father. The two go hand in hand. Contrarily, I’ve met many people who feel that God is distant. They also admit that they rarely talk to Him.
There are three aspects to a great prayer life.
First, Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray continually.” That means do it all the time. Always be talking to God. Brother Lawrence, the famous dishwasher monk, called it “practicing the presence of God.”
Second, it’s important to have a special place for private prayer. Mark 1:35 says that Jesus “went to a lonely place, where he prayed.” Seclusion is necessary for developing intimacy. In a quiet place, away from other distractions, deeper and more intimate conversations can take place.
Jesus had the hills of Galilee and the Garden of Gethsemane. Daniel had his room. Moses had the tabernacle. Solomon had a temple. Habakkuk, a tower. Peter, a rooftop. In my own life, no matter where we’ve lived, I’ve always found special places where I could be alone with God.
Third, you need to schedule regular, daily prayer times with your heavenly Father. Prayer needs to be spontaneous, but it also needs to be a habit.
Do you know which time of day most of them chose for a regular prayer time? The morning. Notice the full quotation of Mark 1:35: “Early the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus woke and left the house. He went to a lonely place, where he prayed.”
But there’s a better way still. The Bible teaches that the very best habit of prayer is three times a day. Daniel prayed three times daily in his upstairs room in Babylon (Daniel 6:10). David said, “Morning, noon, and night I am troubled and upset, but he will listen to me” (Psalm 55:17). In the same way that most of us try to eat three meals a day, the Bible says that through prayer we can have three “spiritual feasts” throughout the day.
Pray all the time—but also form great habits of prayer.
Be a Lover of the Bible
As a book, the Bible is totally unique. It is the only pure and unadulterated written source of truth in all the world. If prayer is our way of communicating with God, then the Bible is God’s way of communicating with us. It is alive and living, sharper than a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).
There are also three ways that the Bible can be used for personal spiritual growth.
First, meditation. Psalm 1 promises that all who meditate on the Bible will be strong, like a tree planted by a river (Psalm 1:3). Joshua 1:8 tells us if we study His teachings, then “you will be wise and successful in everything.”
Bible meditation is thinking deeply and often about truths in the Scripture. Bible meditation is taking a verse or phrase from God’s word and contemplatively “chewing it over” in your mind to extract the nutrition. Its literal meaning is “to muse or mutter.”
I personally enjoy taking a verse out of a quiet time and thinking about it for the rest of the day. David said it this way, “How I love your teachings! I think about them all day long” (Psalm 119:97).
Second, there is regular Bible study. Studying the Bible, as opposed to meditating on a few verses, involves a more in-depth and thorough approach to a subject or topic. It could be the analysis of a major theme or teaching. It could be the study of a particular person or character quality in Scripture. Usually it involves hours and/or days of exploration.
A Christian never stops being a student. David said it best when he stated, “I think about your orders and study your ways” (Psalm 119:15).
The third method is having daily, total Bible devotions. This is the habit of reading four or five chapters of God’s word every day to wash and refresh your soul. It’s different from meditation. There usually isn’t time for study either.
Reading the Bible devotionally requires taking twenty-to-thirty minutes a day (usually in combination with a prayer time) to simply let God’s word “shower” you with truth. Billy Graham once said that reading four or five chapters in the Bible each day was one of the most important habits in his life.
What’s crucial is the total reading of Scripture from cover to cover. God inspired the whole Bible. Most wrong doctrine and incomplete teaching come from lifting individual Scriptures and ideas out of the full context of the Bible.
Unfortunately, many people read the Bible like they go to a smorgasbord. They pick and choose at random. When they want encouragement, they read the Psalms. Normally they prefer the New Testament to the Old (even though God made the Old Testament four times as big as the New). When they’re depressed, they read Ecclesiastes. When they’re in a learning mode, they look at Proverbs. When they’re about to get married, they turn to the Song of Solomon.
The problem with this method is that some parts of the Bible never get read. Whole portions of God’s Word are neglected.
Years ago a wise man encouraged me to devotionally read through the Bible, four to five chapters a day, from Genesis through Revelation, each year. For fifty years I have practiced this habit and consider it one of the most important parts of my life.
Company Determines Character
Who we spend time with determines what we become in life. Paul said it best in I Corinthians 15:33 that “Bad company corrupts good character.” The opposite is also true: “Good company produces good character.” There is no better company than God Himself.
The greatest disciplines of our lives should not be in the areas of work, fasting, exercise, or any other physical activity. Our greatest persevering commitment must be to attain godliness.
Godliness holds the promise for this life AND the one to come. It is the master key to your destiny—both here on earth and getting to heaven.
There’s a primary way to achieve it: Spend time with God—in prayer and in His Word.