FIRST: The Discipline of Study
In acknowledging of the undeniable importance of the prayerful life as the foundational element of Christian life, I would like to heed a German theologian Karl Barth’s advice which emphasizes the inseparable relation between prayer and study in our ongoing Christian journey. He underscores that “prayer without study would be empty. Study without prayer would be blind.”
In his book Celebration of Discipline, considering the significance of study as a spiritual discipline, Richard J. Foster reminds us that “the purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines is the total transformation of the person. It aims at replacing old destructive habits of thought with new life-giving habits. Nowhere is this purpose more clearly seen than in the Discipline of study.” The nature of the whole process of study as a spiritual discipline can be considered as an intellectual and spiritual journey for seeking God’s truth based on our holy longing for the transformation of our hearts and minds.
It is often said that Christian life is a journey. However, can you imagine if someone was taking a journey without a clear direction or destination? Soon or later, we can expect to find ourselves in the abyss of chaos. Therefore, in preparing for the journey of Christian life, we have a required urgency and defined task to ask ourselves this question: “Taking a journey for what and to where?” This self-reflective awareness should encourage and challenge us to engaging ourselves deeply into the spiritual discipline of study.
“…the key to the Discipline of study is not reading many books, but experiencing what we do read.” Richard Foster
As the Children of God, it is our uncompromising belief that the Bible should be centered in our discipline of study. There is no other writing or authority to be equal to the Bible in the realm of Christian faith and practice. In the Bible is all that we need to know in order to be saved and to live a Holy Life. In addition to studying the Bible, we should not neglect the study of many inspirational Christian classics, from the period of the early church fathers to our time. Richard Foster points out that “the key to the Discipline of study is not reading many books, but experiencing what we do read.” Truly, the ultimate goal of discipline of study through “verbal and nonverbal” resources is not to collect or to accumulate information about God but to actually taste Him.
It is my hope and prayer that the Psalmist’s holy testimony in Psalm 42:7, “Deep calls to deep,” will become every Salvationist’s unalloyed joy as a fruit of an earnest commitment of the discipline of study in their continual Christian walk in Christ.