The spiritual power of habits: Time in the Word

By D.A. Horton

Developing a taste
When I was a young adult I couldn’t stand the taste of coffee. I tried to drink it on occasion but flooded my cup with three parts sugar, three parts creamer and one part coffee. Even with all those additions, I still couldn’t finish a single cup. As I grew older and the Lord blessed Elicia and I with our first daughter, sleepless nights forced me to try coffee again. While at work I started out drinking one cup a day. Let me qualify, my cup contained four packets of French vanilla creamer and ½ coffee.

As time went on, I would use less and less creamer because I needed the jolt a cup of black coffee gave me early in the morning. At first, I would force myself to drink my coffee black. Over the course of time my pallet began to change and I actually developed a love for the taste of good coffee. Each morning, when I get up to pray and spent time in the Word, I’m accompanied by a cup of strong, good coffee.

In a similar way that I trained myself to develop a taste for coffee, the same can be said in my life about God’s Word. For the first nine years of my walk with Christ, ages 16 to 25, I failed in having a personal daily devotion time in Scripture. When I turned 25 years old, I hit a crisis moment theologically that forced me dig into the text, daily with diligence.

Desiring the truth
During my first nine years in Christ, I now realize there were two main obstacles preventing me from developing a taste for God’s word; a lack in an appetite for God’s Word and not ever being taught how to study the Bible. The reason I didn’t have an appetite for God’s Word was due to the fact I kept feasting on the junk of the world. The entertainment I pursued, the music I listened to and the hobbies I had all distracted me from ever developing a hunger for getting time in Scripture.

In my life, it wasn’t until Elicia and I enrolled in Bible College (at age 25) when I was finally taught how to study the Bible. In the summer of 2005, my wife and I were walked through the Inductive Bible Study method. We were taught how to observe the text and interpret the text, so that we could work to apply the text. This newfound knowledge sparked a desire in both of our hearts to consume God’s Word. Obstacle number one was easily removed when obstacle number two was sufficed! For the first time in my life I had an unceasing desire to know truth!

Overnight, I began to wake up early in the morning, make a cup of coffee, pray and then consume God’s Word voraciously. I began to see the Bible as God’s love letter to His covenant people, and it was one progressive story being told, with Jesus, not me, as the main character and hero! I began to truly know God’s Word was inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21)) and inerrant (Psalm 12:6; Prov 30:5).

Doer of the text
The goal of every sermon, Bible study, personal devotion and small group lesson about Scripture should be to apply the text in our life. Scripture calls every believer to not just be a hearer of God’s Word but also a doer (James 1:22-25). The Bible is our spiritual nourishment (Matthew 4:4), it identifies Christ as God’s sole means of salvation (John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:1-10), instructs us on how we’re called to live on mission for God’s glory (Matthew 28:16-20; 2 Timothy 3:17) and provides us with wisdom regarding God, His will and way (Romans 12; Colossians 3; Ephesians 4; 5:15-21; 2 Timothy 3:15).

There have been many benefits gained in my life since I developed a taste for Scripture, desired truth and have tried to live as a doer of the text. I’ve grown more dependent on God as it has fueled my prayer life, as I’ve been challenged by Philippians 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:6-7 to bring my anxieties to God in prayer. I’ve noticed the maturity God has produced in me by allowing me to endure through seasons of testing and trials (James 1:2-5). I also recognize my sinfulness more quickly because God’s Word reveals my intentions (Heb 4:12) and beckons me to confess my sin to God (1 John 1:8-10) and those I’ve sinned against.

If you’re struggling with developing a disciplined time in God’s word, please heed my counsel, wake up early—or get away during your lunch hour at work—and intentionally carve out time to get into the text. Ask God to provide you with a hunger for His word, starve yourself from the things of the world you’re filling yourself on and seek out a pastor in your local church to help you learn how to study Scripture. The effects it will have on your life will benefit those you live with at home, work alongside with and serve with in your local church.

Published June 6, 2017

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D.A. Horton

D.A. Horton currently is preparing to relocate his family to Los Angeles to plant a church. During this season of preparation, he will be serving on staff at Summit Church while continuing his speaking and writing ministries. Prior to his current role he served as the national coordinator for urban student missions at the North American Mission Board, the executive director of ReachLife Ministries, the non-profit ministry of Reach Records and as an urban church planter, pastor and lead teaching elder in Kansas City, MO, for close to 6 years. He and his wife of 10 years, Elicia, have two daughters, Izabelle and Lola, and one son, D.A. Jr.