Is prayer, or reading the Bible, the most important for Christians?
UK Apologetics Reply:
You cannot separate the two. It is not 'either, or.'
Prayer is vital and yet people of several religions will pray without any knowledge of the true God or His revelation, therefore reading and studying the Bible is essential but both must go together. We are God's children and all good Fathers want regular contact from and with their children. We attain this intimate contact through prayer. So the two must go together.
A strong Christian always has a strong prayer life. Some Christians, especially newer Christians, find it difficult to pray regularly. The solution is to get into a prayer habit by meeting regularly with a more experienced believer and having a joint prayer session. This practice has turned around some believers who had a 'prayer problem,' and it obviously also helps forge a strong friendship with the other believer. My wife and I always have a joint prayer session in the morning around 7-8AM. We have found it to be very successful. Don't forget to regularly ask God to show you things you can do yourself to improve things, be it health, a moral problem, a trial, a major decision, or anything else. Time and again, we find that God really does help those who help themselves; do what you can, then leave the rest to God.
Regarding Bible reading, there needs to be:
a. Devotional Reading.
This is about setting aside some time to read as a 'love feast' with your Saviour, this is a time to be warmed in the heart, to be encouraged and inspired.
b. Bible Study.
For some reason, many have a problem with this one. Bible studies in many churches are very poorly supported a lot of the time. This does not have to take place within a group and, in fact, some find it hard to learn that way, they are too conscious of having a "good, Bible study" - that is, to be seen to be actively contributing and so on. Then it becomes too much about self.
Whether at home, just with a husband or wife, or in a larger group, make a real effort to regularly go through the New Testament in particular, perhaps covering a book in some detail over a month or two. My personal belief is that weekly Bible study meetings (that is, with a larger group) are not such a good idea; standards sometimes drop and enthusiasm wanes. Far better to have such a meeting every 2 or 3 weeks, so people can have a greater opportunity to go through the text ahead of time. No need to totally neglect the Old Testament, but we really must understand that the New Testament can be called 'the Book of the New Covenant,' it is addressed to, and is for, Christians. It tells us the standards, and reinforces the beliefs, which we should be living by. Whilst the Old Testament remains very important - and I would say that only the converted Christian can really understand it - it had a broader purpose. Don't forget that revelation is progressive. A lady once said to me, "My favourite part of the Bible is the Old Testament," in a flash I knew that that lady was immature in Christian understanding and, as I got to know her better, this indeed turned out to be the case.
Robin A. Brace. June 2nd, 2011.