Christians are oft-told to “read their Bible and pray.” It’s almost as if this is the be-all end-all solution to life’s difficulties and challenges. Want to know what university or college to go to? Pray. Want to know how to live a more Christ-like life? Read your Bible. Should you take this job offer or negotiate something better? Pray.
Webster defines “cliché” as:
Something that has become overly familiar or commonplace.
By that definition it would certainly seem the phrase “read your Bible and pray” is cliché. It’s not surprising, it’s been around for quite some time. In Matthew 17:14-21 Jesus’ disciples ask Him why they were not able to help a young boy. Jesus’ reply?
But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.
Matthew 17:21 (NIV)
It’s difficult to not become apathetic to the phrase; yet when we look at how Christians in the early church lived their lives we see the following:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42 (NIV)
The truth is that while “reading your Bible [the apostles’ teaching] and praying” feels cliché, it’s a Biblical principle that ensures a continually growing relationship with Christ.
When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
Psalm 73:16-17 (NIV)
The context is that Asaph (the author) is contemplating how the ungodly appear to have everything work to their advantage: they always win, they are always rich, they have no worries, and so on. Yet verses 16 and 17 stand out in this passage because when Asaph enters God’s Presence, he sees a larger, more complete, picture. This is what reading our Bibles and praying does for us. It opens our eyes to the bigger picture—God’s perspective.