I was preparing for my first church board meeting in my new district. What could I do to challenge the leaders and the entire church to a deeper walk with God? Then the simple idea hit me.
A few days later at the board meeting I said “I believe all of us want a deeper, closer walk with Jesus.” A few heads nodded and some eyes seemed to glaze over since they had heard this kind of talk many times before.
“This coming Sabbath I’m going to challenge everyone present to spend ten minutes more a day in personal Bible study and prayer for the next 30 days.” Now I had their attention. “Then a month later we’ll have a sharing time during the worship service about what God has been doing in our lives.”
“But you are the spiritual leaders of this church. So I would like to challenge you to spend twenty minutes more a day for the next 30 days in personal Bible study and prayer. You understand what that means. If you are used to spending thirty minutes a day I’m challenging you to spend fifty minutes a day for thirty days. If you are used to spending no time in Bible study and prayer then I’m challenging you to spend twenty minutes. You get the picture. And when we meet for our board meeting next month I’d like to have us take 15-20 minutes just sharing what God has been doing in our lives because of the increased time listening to Him.”
“And as your new pastor I am committing myself to spend an extra thirty minutes a day in personal Bible study and prayer during this next 30 days. Let’s see what God does in each of us.”
As you can imagine that board meeting went well and the next month there were some amazing and incredible stories that were shared at both the church board and during the designated worship service. Some acknowledged that even though they were leaders they had not been faithful in spending time in Bible study and prayer but that was changing. Others shared verses that seemed to appear on the morning of the day they needed them most. Prayer lists were developed or expanded. One man shared how his commute to work was so much better when he started listening to audio recordings of the Bible.
The church is stronger when the leaders and the people are spending regular time in personal Bible study and prayer. Our schools are stronger when the board members and staff are spending regular time in personal Bible study and prayer. Our hospitals and publishing houses are far more effective when board members and administrators are bowing each day before the King of kings. In fact there is good evidence that thirty minutes in Bible study and prayer will save a person from fifty hours of mistakes! (“The time devoted to a study of God’s Word and to prayer will bring a hundredfold return.” In Heavenly Places p. 135).
Here are some more powerful statements from the book In Heavenly Places p. 135.
- “There is nothing more calculated to strengthen the intellect than a study of the Bible. No other book is so potent to elevate the thoughts, to give vigor to the faculties, as the broad, ennobling truths of the Bible. If God’s Word were studied as it should be, men would have a breath of mind, a nobility of character, that is rarely seen in these times.”
- “The appreciation of the Bible grows with its study. Whichever way the student may turn he will find displayed the infinite wisdom and love of God. To him who is truly converted the Word of God is the joy and consolation of the life. The Spirit of God speaks to him, and his heart becomes like a watered garden.”
- “No knowledge is so firm, so consistent, so far reaching, as that obtained from a study of the Word of God. If there were not another book in the wide world, the Word of God, lived out through the grace of Christ, would make man perfect in this world, with a character fitted for the future, immortal life. Those who study the Word, taking it in faith as the truth and receiving it into the character, will be complete in Him who is all in all. Thank God for the possibilities set before humanity.”
It’s a simple challenge that can have a profound effect on our own lives, our church leaders lives, and the lives of the church members and those in their circle of influence. Why not give the challenge at your next church (or school, or hospital or publishing house) board meeting and Sabbath worship service and see what God does?