I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
Are you good at making excuses? Perhaps you rationalize eating a meal you know isn’t healthy, not making time for important things like exercise or sleep, or skipping too many weeks of church in a row. As humans, we are typically good at justifying our bad choices.
When it comes to making time for daily devotions and Bible study, are you disciplined enough to dive into God’s Word every day? Or do you perhaps find yourself coming up with a list of excuses why you aren’t spending time with your Savior?
Recently (2013), a global study, the Church Member Survey was conducted in nine divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This research was conducted under the direction of the General Conference (GC) Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. The study was designed to assess the experiences and attitudes of church members, regarding different aspects of their personal spiritual lives and their participation in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This served as a basis for the world Church strategic plan for 2015-2020 (see Reach the World strategic plan here).
When asked how frequently they read the Bible:
- Nearly half (42%) of respondents indicated that they read the Bible daily or more than once a day.
- Almost one third (32%) stated that they read the Bible more than once a week.
- An additional 16% responded that they read the Bible about once a week.
- Ten percent admitted that they read the Bible less than once a month (8%) or never (2%).
As part of the same study, church members were asked how frequently they engage in personal devotions, which includes time spent in prayer and Bible study or a devotional book (including Morning Watch).
- Over a third (39%) indicated that they engage in personal devotions daily or more than once a day.
- About a quarter (26%) responded that they spend time in personal devotions more than once a week.
- Sixteen percent stated that they have daily devotions about once a week.
- Almost one in five (19%) confessed that they do personal devotions less than once a month (12%) or never (7%).
Survey respondents were also asked how much personal Bible study and prayer helped to develop their spiritual lives. A strong majority (74%) shared that these faith practices impacted their spiritual lives “very much,” or “often” had an impact. Fifteen percent stated that Bible study and prayer only “sometimes” had an effect on their spiritual lives while a small percentage (8%) felt these had no impact at all.
While over half (53%) of respondents indicated that spending time in Bible study and prayer have a positive impact on their spiritual life, less than half of them claim to beparticipating in these activities daily (Bible studies – 42%; devotions – 39%). Because of these results, the global Church’s strategic plan for 2015-2020 includes objectives to involve Adventist church members in daily Bible study and increase the number of members who engage regularly in personal devotions and Bible study through family worship and/or small groups.
We know that the Bible is God’s Word; it is one of the key ways that He communicates with us. Prayer is another crucial practice that helps us grow closer to God. If we are not spending time with our Creator daily – through reading the Bible and prayer – we cannot expect to strengthen our relationship with Him! No amount of excuses can make up for a strong relationship with Him.
You can find reports on the Church Member Survey (2013) from nine divisions here.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.