We’re two weeks into our “Means of Grace” series. The means of grace are simply the ways God has given us to grow in grace, as Peter said (2 Peter 3:18), or to become more like Jesus (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18). I’m encouraged by how many of you have given me feedback, shared your stories with me, and asked questions about application. You wouldn’t believe how much more feedback I get on topical sermons than expository ones. Who knew!? For as much as I talk about expository preaching, it must be God’s sense of humor.
So in answer to some of your questions over the last two weeks, and as promised, here’s a list of resources and suggestions on how to give yourselves more fully to the Word and prayer so that you can grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The tool that I have found most helpful for me in the area of reading the Word is Don Carson’s wonderful book set For the Love of God (2 volumes). It uses a modified M’Cheyne Bible reading plan and also contains a short devotional reading each day. I love this plan and resource because they help me see how the Bible holds together, and I am reminded over and over again how it all points to Christ. These books are also available for free in blog form with the reading and devotional posted for each day.
If you're looking for more reading plan suggestions, this helpful blog post from Justin Taylor has a variety of Bible reading plan options, online-access reading plans, options for listening to the Bible, and more!
As I said in my sermon, reading is the place to start. But there’s so much we read that we don’t understand or don’t know how to apply. That’s where Bible study comes in. If you want to learn how to study the Bible, there’s no better way than to do it in community, with a group of other believers. We offer a Bible study course regularly called the Simeon Course for Biblical Exposition. If you’re interested, let me know, and I’ll tell you more. But if you want to get started on your own, I recommend two books. The first is Bible Study by Kathleen Nielson. Secondly, God’s Big Picture by Vaughn Roberts. This is not technically a book on Bible study, but it will help you immensely! It demonstrates how to interpret Scripture with an eye toward Christ. And it helps you simply know where you’re at wherever you’re reading.
In my sermon on prayer, my main application was to pray the Word. Donald Whitney has written a book covering this entitled Praying the Bible. It’s a great start. If you want something shorter than his book, this article provides a condensed version. For the Psalms specifically, you may like Ben Patterson’s book, God’s Prayer Book. It not only teaches you how to pray the Psalms, it gives a guide to the specific Psalms in the Psalter. If you want a guide to praying Paul’s prayers, there’s no better guide than Don Carson. Check out his book Praying with Paul. I’ve not met anyone who’s read this book that didn’t say it was a game changer for them. For a general book on prayer, I think A Praying Life by Paul Miller is essential.
Lastly, if you’d like a one-stop shop for all of the spiritual disciplines and means of grace (including, but not limited to, Word and Prayer), I think Donald Whitney is a reliable guide. He has a book on individual disciplines—Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life—as well as one on corporate disciplines—Spiritual Disciplines within the Church.
May God's grace be granted to you as your seek him through his Word and prayer!