Practising spiritual disciplines is a crucial habit to build when a believer seeks a deeper relationship with God. This 16-year-old shares how she makes a practice of reading her Bible.
Bible reading is an integral part of my life. As a fairly young Christian, I am keenly aware that my walk with God has just begun. There are many things I have yet to experience and knowledge I have yet to accumulate. This is especially true when it comes to learning the Word of God. Looking back, I will always be grateful that I came to know of God’s word from an early age. That was how my Bible reading journey started.
Five years ago, when I first embarked on this journey, I read a book of fascinating Bible stories that began Adam and Eve and the tree of forbidden fruit. Being a young girl, I would imagine that perhaps one day, I might eat an apple as decadent as the fruit described in the Bible. The apple would be pink and would tempt me to take a bite. My pink apple would then turn a sinful red. Then I would get nightmares about it.
But it was also through reading the Bible back then that I found out that my sins have been crucified on the Cross of Jesus Christ, and now in Him, I have redemption through His blood. God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided the antidote for the sin I inherited, and the Bible helps me to access it.
That year, I was 10.
FROM PINK APPLE TO PINK BIBLE
On my 12th birthday, my godfather gifted me a pink Bible which officially kickstarted my Bible-reading journey. As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I made a point to read a chapter a day and write in my journal about it.
It became my “rain or shine” date with God. At first, I struggled. Some chapters in the Bible are exciting, while others are hard to understand and, honestly, boring. There were also many distractions, and there were times I found myself nearly falling off the wagon. Thankfully, I learnt that finding “free” time to read my Bible was not enough—I had to dedicate a good time to do it. I found that time to be just before my bedtime. I reckon that since I needed to sleep every night, I would just have to make sure that I read my Bible before I went to bed.
Soon, these nightly dates morphed from a hobby to a habit, like a daily dose of exercise. The more I exercised myself unto godliness, the more heavenly joy I received. Soon, it no longer felt like a chore—it was more like detoxification to get rid of my stress and frustrations.
It also became the gateway for me to get closer to God. It felt like God was sending me loving letters to help me weather all seasons of life. On “sunny” days when I received good grades or praise in school, I could feel His Word affirming my efforts, encouraging me to do even better, and prompting me to give thanks.
On “windy” days when doubts and fears threatened to knock me over, I received revelations from my Bible reading. On “rainy” days, when setbacks, stress and anxiety from school poured down on me, the Scriptures calmed the raging storms in my mind. I could feel God’s tangible presence, reminding me that His love for me will see me through the difficult times. This gave me confidence to fight my battles.
Until today, the Bible is like my armour, guarding my heart and guiding my ways.
BIBLE-READING AS A SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE
Two years ago, I attended my first Emerge service at City Harvest Church and joined a cell group. Partaking the words and learning together with youths around the same age was a game changer. As an only child of busy parents who are event planners, I learnt from a very young age to entertain myself. Being part of a cell group made me feel uncomfortable at first—I often felt like an intruder. It was the Word of God that kept me going.
That Emerge service helped me reach my goal of memorising the book of Psalms by this year. Memorising is not my strong suit. Thankfully, the team of leaders at Emerge made it fun by issuing attainable mini-challenges periodically. From memorising the Beatitudes to the recent challenge of memorising the Lord’s prayer, these challenges motivated me to memorise the Word of God. Not only could we get closer to God through His Word, but we also stood to win prizes such as Emerge water bottles.
Those challenges constantly reminded me to speak not only my own words but also the Word of God. Whenever I prayed for my mother or for my cell group members, I would pray using the Scriptures. Not only does it encourage them, but it inspires me too. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:11–13) This Is one of the simplest yet most empowering verses for me. It is a source of comfort and the foundation of my spiritual life.
Last October, our senior pastor, Kong Hee started a series on Spiritual Discipline—it was like my booster shot. I was challenged to up my game and set new goals. One significant change to my schedule was reading God’s word three times a day.
Pastor Kong constantly encouraged the church to prioritise spiritual disciplines, quoting John Wesley: “The soul and body make a man…but the Spirit and discipline make a Christian.” Spending time with God has helped me to control my emotions and self-doubts, knowing that He is God, and He is in full control.
ALL IS NOT ALWAYS PINK
God’s Word also brings comfort to me in tough times. Everyone goes through adversities in life. Being a youth, mine are exam which caused me to develop irritable bowel syndromes and anxiety. Also, in the last three years, my mother has had a number of health scares and that had also taken a toll on me. But I found solace in God’s Word. The Bible is like a handbook to me, an instruction manual, containing the best advice on how to live the “best” life for God.
Reading the Bible has helped me to grow as a person, whether it is to become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit or to always love those around me as I learn to love myself. Now, I am holding God’s hand through His words. It has helped me to be more aware of His presence in my daily life. I am always reminded to look to God for deliverance. A change I see in myself is that Scripture is always on my mind, and I find, subconsciously I have grown into a more loving person.
As a youth, it is easy for us to be swept away by life’s drawbacks and temptations. That is why I think it is crucial to build a good foundation in God by indulging in the Word daily. The Bible is like a spiritual power bank, providing me strength to deal with life’s challenges.
My next goal is to attend the church’s Bible study classes after my GCE O-levels and to engage with other believers to study God’s Word in depth.
I would like to challenge you, dear reader, to start investing your time in the spiritual discipline of focusing on the Word of God, whether it is meditating daily on God’s word or studying the Bible.
If you are new to the Bible-reading, I recommend a free booklet called The Daily Bread which brings you a daily reading from the Bible, and testimonies to encourage you. Every read is just two minutes or less. Alternatively, you can download the Bible app and embark on a Bible reading plan today.
Start small (like me) and grow big!