All the chapters of this book till now have reflected on overarching themes. Realities such as union with Christ, or the embrace of Christ, or acquittal before God through the wonder of justification—these are timeless truths we spend a lifetime believing and absorbing into our hearts. But how, practically, day by day, do we do that? What are the actual tools by which that belief and heart absorption take place?

This chapter answers that question. In truth there are many valid answers to the question—the importance of regularly partaking of the sacraments of the church, and being part of Christian fellowship through the local church, and cultivating deep Christian friendships, and so on. But I want to consider just two ordinary, predictable, wondrous, vital practices: Bible reading and prayer.

And the way to think about these two practices is by the metaphor of breathing. Reading the Bible is inhaling. Praying is exhaling.

Our Greatest Earthly Treasure

What is the Bible? It is your greatest earthly treasure. You will stand in strength, and grow in Christ, and walk in joy, and bless this world no further than you know this book. Here’s the introduction to the Bibles published by the Gideons:

The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened and the gates of Hell disclosed.

Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever.

It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

I quote this in full because these reverent words bring us unavoidably face-to-face with the sacred preciousness of the Bible. Who can read this and not want to give his or her whole life to being a student of the Bible? Scripture is not an ancillary benefit for a life otherwise well ordered, in need of a little extra boost. Scripture is shaping and fueling and oxygenating. It is vital. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Deeper is a book on sanctification. And Jesus said we need the word of God, which is truth, for that to happen.

Dane C. Ortlund, Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners, ed. Michael Reeves, Union (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021), 16–19.

We have just completed a Bible study to guide your group into meditating on and applying these truths. Deeper is our Bible Study based on Dane Ortlund’s book by the same name. It consists of 7 lessons with ready-to-use questions suitable for groups. It can be purchased on Amazon and is also available as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service.