Spending Time to be Nourished


It has recently pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost, though now, while preparing the fifth edition for the press, more than fourteen years have since passed away. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit. Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing to give myself to in prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.

I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon his precious word, was, to begin to meditate on the word of God, searching as it were into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for a while making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the word may lead to it, but still continually keeping before me that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened, and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, either very soon after or at a later time, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man…

And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is, to obtain food for his inner man. As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now what is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the word of God; and here again, not the simple reading of the word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts. When we pray, we speak to God. Now, prayer, in order to be continued for any length of time in any other than a formal manner, requires, generally speaking, a measure of strength or godly desire, and the season, therefore, when this exercise of the soul can be most effectually performed is after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us. We may therefore profitably meditate, with God’s blessing, though we are ever so weak spiritually; nay, the weaker we are, the more we need meditation for the strengthening of our inner man. There is thus far less to be feared from wandering of mind than if we give ourselves to prayer without having had previously time for meditation. I dwell so particularly on this point because of the immense spiritual profit and refreshment I am conscious of having derived from it myself, and I affectionately and solemnly beseech all my fellow-believers to ponder this matter. By the blessing of God I ascribe to this mode the help and strength which I had had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials, in various ways, than I had ever had before; and after having now above fourteen years tried this way, I can most fully, in the fear of God, commend it…

How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon one!— George Müller, Autobiography of George Müller, the Life of Trust, 1861, reprinted 1981, pp. 206-10.


Being Open and Touching the Spirit Behind the Word

“The Bible is the word of God. It is full of God’s light. Yet this light will only enlighten those who are open to Him…We must not pay attention just to reading and studying; rather, we should ask if we are open before the Lord.”

“Behind every word of God is a certain spirit. The feeling of the Holy Spirit and the condition of the writers govern these writings. When we study the Bible, we have to touch the spirit behind the word.”

Having a Proper Way of Handling the Word of God

“[The psalmists] way of handling the Word of God was different from that followed by many today who mainly exercise their mind to study the Word in letter…this way is even richer, broader, and more inclusive than pray-reading, for it includes prayer, worship, enjoyment, conversation, bowing down, and even lifting up our hands to receive God’s word. It also includes rejoicing, praising, shouting, and even weeping before the Lord.”

Receiving Constant and Long Term Nourishment from the Word

“When what we read becomes a truth in our being, this nourishment remains forever…If the truth gets into our memory, it becomes a constant and long term nourishment…You will then know how to present the truth to others, not merely to inspire them or to stir them up, but to make them solid and constituted with the truth.”

“When we study the Bible, our purpose is to receive the ministry of the word…If God’s word is only impressions and thoughts to us, it cannot become our food. God’s word must become spirit before it can become our food.”

Everything Depending on this one Matter

“If we desire to be a Christian who is normal, living, strong, uplifted, proper, rich, spiritual, and heavenly, the only thing that matters is to daily open our spirit to contact the Lord. We should open the Word of the Lord to read, and after reading, we should immediately exercise our spirit to turn what we have read into prayer…Everything concerning the Christian life—our living, service, and work, the church life, victory, sanctification, and spirituality—depends upon this one matter. This is the way to be a Christian.”

“The saints need to take this way every day to get into the truth. After one year of studying the Bible in this way, there will be a solid change in the saints’ home life, private life, and church life.”


Every Bible reader must set aside a certain amount of time every day to study the Bible in a definite way. This should be done apart from his reading during “morning watch.” Experience tells us that it is not altogether wise to allocate too much time to such study. When we allocate too much time, we usually cannot keep it up, and the result is not profitable. We should set a standard for ourselves that is reasonable to achieve. Servants of the Lord do not need to spend more than two hours every day to study the Bible. Nor should we spend less than one hour. Occasionally, when we have more time, we can extend our study to three hours. We have to make a decision about this after careful consideration. Once we have made a decision, we should adhere to it at least for a few years. We should not change our schedule after two or three months. We have to learn to restrict and discipline ourselves a little. Our reading cannot be too capricious. Such free, undisciplined, and “inspirational” reading should not be our pattern. Many people are too careless in their reading. They read a few hours one day and nothing the next day. This shows a lack of perseverance. It is a terrible habit. We should decide on what to do after careful consideration and prayer, and once we have made the decision, we should adhere to it wholeheartedly.

We should take note of one thing: After studying for twenty minutes, we may be tempted to extend our reading to thirty minutes. We must overcome this temptation. If we have made the decision to read only twenty minutes, we should adhere to twenty minutes. If we can resist extending our time, we will also overcome the temptation of reducing our time from twenty to ten minutes. Once we have made a decision before the Lord, we have to discipline ourselves to adhere to it. We would rather be stuck with something for ten years than be free from it in ten days. We must never be loose or careless. We have to learn to be disciplined.

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