Saturday, November 9, 2013

We Do What We Care About: Resolution 2:24

The average adult's day looks something like this:

Sleep: 8 hours = 33%
Work: 8 hours = 33%
Eat: 1.5 hours = 6.25%
Television: 2.8 hours = 11.7%
Other Leisure/Household Activities: 1.7 hours = 7%
Recreational Computer Use: 2.0 hours = 8%

The above number are comparable between Christians and non-Christians.

Obviously, the above times vary from person to person. Some spend their time doing other things not shown on the above list. Some work more. Some sleep less. Some spend a lot more time watching television. Some don't even own a television. Some spend a lot more time on the Internet. Some couldn't send an email if their lives depended on it. Some have texted to the point of removing their thumb prints from their opposable digits. Others long for the days of the rotary phone.

My days are decidedly different from the above list. I sleep far less than eight hours. It doesn't take me 90 minutes to finish three meals (too many years eating quickly over the hood of a patrol car). I don't have cable/satellite/dish television. Because of the nature of my ministry, I spend considerably more than two hours each day on the computer/Internet. And I can be out on the streets anywhere preaching or otherwise communicating the gospel from two to eight hours, or more, on any given day.

Each person's life differs from that of the next person.

Needless to say, the Christian's life should be markedly different than that of the non-Christian. In addition to the above activities, the Christian is also to be daily engaged in spiritual disciplines such as Scripture reading and prayer.

Statistics show the average American household has anywhere from 3.6 to 4.4 Bibles.

A poll conducted last year by LifeWay provided the following information regarding how often people read the Bible:
LifeWay Research spoke with participants over the phone, and gathered information on the habits of Bible readers – including where and when they read their Bibles. There seemed to be a wide range of responses at to how frequently Bible readers actually read the Scriptures. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they do it nearly every day, while 22 percent read it three to five times a week and another 22 percent read it once or twice a week. Up to 11 percent read the Bible two or three times a month, and eight percent read it only once a month.
Another poll reveals how little Christians pray. Over a ten-year statistical period, Barna Research determined that the average length of a person's prayer is under five minutes.

I have personally struggled, off an on, in both of these most important spiritual disciplines(Bible reading and prayer), throughout my 25 years of Christian life. One way I struggle is that I spend so much time serving the Lord that I forget to spend time with the Lord. In the end, this is nothing more than an excuse. What I've often said to others applies to me, too. "We do what we care about."

As Christians, the amount of time we spend reading the Bible is indicative of how much we care about the Word of God.

As Christians, the amount of time we spend in communion with our Creator, through prayer, is indicative of how much we care about our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is indicative of the importance of worship in our lives. It's indicative of our level of trust in Christ, or the lack thereof.

We do what we care about.

I've read many books on prayer. In fact I'm reading a couple right now. I've tried many different Bible reading plans--some of the best ever designed. My good friend, Professor Grant Horner, has one such reading plan. It would be wrong for me to declare, "Nothing works!" The problem is not with the plans, whether plans for prayer or plans for Bible reading. The problem is with me. I don't work. I'm what's broken--not the myriad plans I have tried to implement over the last 25 years. Enough is enough.....again.

Jonathan Edwards, the greatest mind God has ever given to the United States and the author of the greatest sermon ever preached on American soil, Sinner's in the Hands of an Angry God, was a godly man of deep conviction. So deep were his convictions that he wrote a lengthy series of personal resolutions--personal commitments to God by which, in their keeping, Edwards hoped to daily be more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).

Regarding the Scriptures and prayer, Jonathan Edwards resolved to do the following:
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

64. Resolved, when I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those “breakings of soul for the longing it hath,” of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear’, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness.
He described the application of his time to the reading and study of God's Word as steady, constant, and frequent. His purpose for such a commitment was simply, but noble: to grow in the knowledge of the Word of God and the God of the Word.

As to prayer, Edwards' commitment was to never be double-minded in his prayer, believing by faith the Lord would answer according to His will. And this commitment of trust was built upon a foundation of faithful fervency, not mere intellectual assent. He resolved to be an active participant in his prayers, not a mindless drone simply going through the motions to complete an otherwise mundane and undesired task. The prayers to which Edwards resolved to pray would be filled with power, earnestness, venting, and tireless perseverance. It appears he had in mind a daily stewardship of time before the Lord in prayer that would lead to aching and swollen knees, white knuckles, and a floor likely stained with the salt of hot tears when the words would just not come. In such times, the Holy Spirit was there as promised, interceding on behalf of the praying, scholarly pastor. He resolved to not grow weary in prayer.

I'm certainly no Jonathan Edwards. None of us are. But any Christian, any born-again and Spirit-filled follower of Jesus Christ can read and study the Word of God as Edwards did, and seek the Lord in prayer as Edwards did. The same Father who drew Edwards to Himself, the same Savior who shed His innocent blood to redeem Edwards, the same Holy Spirit who indwelt the regenerated Edwards is the same God who has done and does the same things for every follower of Jesus Christ before and since Jonathan Edwards walked this earth.

We do what we care about.

No, I'm no Jonathan Edwards. But conviction of conscience, and what I hope is the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, has brought me to make a resolution of my own. I'm sharing this with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, because I hope you will prayerfully consider joining me.

I hereby resolve--with you, my readers, as my witnesses--to spend at least 10% of my day with the Lord in Bible reading, prayer, and journaling. That works out to 2 hours and 24 minutes every day--hence, Resolution 2:24. One hour will be devoted to the reading of God's Word. One hour will be devoted to communion with God in prayer. And 24 minutes will be devoted to journaling my thoughts regarding my time in the Word and in prayer for that day.

My plan is to start every day, no matter how early I have to get out of bed, with an hour in the Word and an hour of prayer. The 24 minutes of journaling will be completed toward the end of each day.

Maybe for you it will work better to start your day with an hour in the Word, spend your hour in prayer later in the day, and journal whenever you want. Others of you who choose to join me might be better off spending your 2 hours and 24 minutes with the Lord all at one time during the day--morning, afternoon, or evening.

I will begin, Lord permitting, living out this resolution on Monday, November 18, 2013. The reason for waiting to start is that I want to give as many of you as possible to get ready to join me. And here's how you can join me:

Email me at With Resolution 2:24 in the subject line of your email, simply give me your full name and a note that reads to the effect: "Tony, I want to join you in Resolution 2:24." It's that simple. Along with your email, if you have questions about Bible reading and prayer, share those, too. They may become the subject of future articles.

Don't be surprised if you get an email back from me or Richard Story making sure you are truly committed to living Resolution 2:24.

Those who join me in this initiative will receive an exclusive weekly Resolution 2:24 e-newsletter, written by me, in which I will share parts of my personal journal, occasional devotions, insights on prayer and Bible reading from well-known pastors (past and present,)and prayer and Bible reading tips--things I'm doing that seem to help me stay consistent and resolute. Only those who email me will receive the weekly Resolution 2:24 e-newsletter.

Between now and November 18, I will write a few (or more) articles about Bible reading and prayer.

I hope to hear from you soon, letting me know you will join me in this initiative: Resolution 2:24.

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