If a man is truly called of God to be a preacher, then he is committed to declare "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). He must believe that the Bible, as sovereignly preserved by God throughout the centuries, is inerrant and "(1) infallibly achieves its [intended purpose], (2) gives us reliable testimony to the saving revelation and redemption of God in Christ, (3) provides us with [the] authoritative norm of faith and conduct, and (4) speaks [today] through the infallible Spirit of God by whom it [was inspired]."
"Give attention to reading" (1 Tim. 4:13). This is one of the most neglected areas in the minister's life. The devil sees to this! He knows that if he can distract or divert us from this daily tryst with our Lord, the consequences will be defeat, despair, and disaster.
The private and devotional reading of God's Word must be celebrated at a time and place that distinguishes it from the disciplines of study habits and sermon preparation. The personal attitude and spiritual appetite should accord with the psalmist's heart-cry: "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Ps. 42:2).
The following procedural movements may be found helpful for some:
Wait—Samuel Chadwick warned that "hurry is the death of prayer," and so it is. A few minutes in quiet waiting upon God will yield far more profit than a longer period with an eye on the clock. Wait on God—to sense His presence, to seek His purpose, and to see His power in your life.
Read—At this juncture, reverently open the Bible and read the portion for the day—and we mean the entire portion for the day. System and sequence must be observed. The value of reading the Word of God is often lost with the "lucky dip" method! Therefore, plan your reading passage by passage, or chapter by chapter. Remember that a short portion well read is better than a chapter or more skimmed.
Think—Having read the portion through several times—generally, carefully, then meditatively—ask these personal questions: Is there a promise to claim; a lesson to learn; a blessing to enjoy; a command to obey; a sin to avoid; a new revelation of God in Christ, or the Holy Spirit; a new thought about the devil? What is today's thought? Such prayerful reflection under the control of the Holy Spirit will never fail to reveal a word from the Lord.
Write—Psychologists say that there is no impression without expression; and, conversely, no expression without impression. It is profitable, therefore, to test and confirm God-given impressions on paper. Such a practice must never develop into sermon preparation or essay writing! That would rob the meditation of its true purpose and challenge. What we suggest is that you record briefly the thoughts gleaned, in a devotional form, for personal appropriation and practical application.
Pray—Now turn the meditation into prayer and pray it back to God until your will has been adjusted to His will in terms of all that the Holy Spirit has newly revealed to you. At this point you will have opened heaven to every dimension of prayer, for Jesus said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7, emphasis ours). Exerpts from Chapter Two-Anointed Expository Preaching, Stephen J. Olford.