If you’re a pastor, scholar, or church leader, you’ve probably experienced it. You spend hours in the Word preparing sermons, Bible studies, and Sunday-school lessons. Yet even as your understanding of the Bible increases, you find yourself slipping into a state of spiritual fatigue. Your congregation or students thank you for the insight you’ve provided, for the difference your study has made in their lives. But you know God has used you in spite of the distance from him you feel at the moment. You may have crafted the perfect sermon, but your spiritual well has run dry.
In this excerpt from Bible Study Magazine’s exclusive interview with Kay Arthur, the beloved Bible-study expert shares how she maintains vitality in her spiritual life through personal quiet time and by refusing to separate her lesson preparation from her own spiritual walk.
Arthur gets her coffee and begins her day in the Word. “I have a little sitting area in my bedroom that is my place with God. I sit down, look out the window and just thank Him for this time to listen to His Word. And it’s then you realize nothing else matters—He is our sovereign Lord and we are His bondservants! My quiet time is always in the Word of God, book by book. I have an inductive study Bible, which has large spacing and margins for notes, and instructions for studying each book. I have a pen, pencil, and colored marking pens.”
“There was a time in the Christian world where it was considered unspiritual to spend your quiet time studying Scripture, as if that were less spiritual than prayer. When tempted by the devil, Jesus said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matt 4:4 ESV). Quiet time is remembering that He is God. I’m going to listen to him, talk to him, commit my way unto him, and remember that He is God. I want to start my day with him on my mind and on my heart. Although I begin with time in His Word, there are times when I read other books the Spirit of God leads me to. One of my treasures is On This Day by Robert J. Morgan—it’s 365 days of Christian history with stories about saints, martyrs, and heroes. I love the old biographies and learn so very much from them that inspires me to press on.”
Most recently, Arthur has focused her reading on the letter to the Galatians as she prepares to write a new study on the book. “Galatians has put me on my face before God. During a special period of seeking the Lord in prayer—because that was the weakest thing in my devotional time—I spent a lot of time meditating on Galatians 2:20 and praying it back to the Lord: ‘I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself
up for me’ ” (NASB).
Arthur doesn’t feel the need to separate her devotional time from message preparation. “I pray as I go through the Scriptures. I just talk to God about what I’m doing. As thoughts come to me, I jot them down. Or I’ll talk to God about the message He wants me to deliver to this particular group of people. It’s all integrated. If I’m just reading but not studying, is that sacred? If I’m using what I’ve read or using what I’m preparing, is that profane? To me, all of life is His and should be led by His Spirit.”
The years she spent immersing herself in Scripture have continued to enrich her devotional life. “I’ll be reading one passage, and the Holy Spirit will bring another verse to mind, putting two pieces of Scripture together in my heart. God’s Word is him talking to us. Prayer without the Word is a one-sided conversation. I pray my studies will help other Christians develop a similar devotion and passion to know and live by every word that has come from the mouth of God.”
“I believe we’re in a generation of biblical illiteracy. I believe it’s our greatest sin and our greatest weakness. If I’m not in the Word, then I am running on my own steam, thoughts, and impressions. Some Christians are bypassing what is essential for life as God means it to be lived. . . . They don’t realize that if they don’t know His Word, they don’t know God. They’re building their house on sand instead of on the rock, because the rock is God; the rock is Jesus; the rock is the Spirit; the rock is truth. It’s so sad, because in our busyness we’re excusing ourselves from studying His Word, which is the very truth that sets us apart, keeps us from the evil one, and propels us into the world to proclaim truth with confidence no matter the cost, as we see in John 17: 14–18.”
For more from Kay Arthur, pre-order the Kay Arthur Precepts for Life Archive. With over 2,000 transcripts from Kay’s prolific ministry, this collection will help you master the ministry veteran’s inductive Bible study method.