The phrase “Daily Quiet Time” can seem both quaint and impossible to most teenagers… But the genius of a daily Bible-study habit is the spiritual “muscle memory” it develops. Need a living illustration of the power of muscle memory? His name is Anthony Kelly, and he’s a modern-day ninja. Kelly has trained himself to catch high-speed tennis balls, paint balls, and arrows with his bare hands. He’s broken more than 50 world records, and he’s been a featured guest on Mythbusters, Stan Lee’s Superhumans and other shows that highlight the extraordinary things ordinary people can do. Check out this short video…
The strangest thing? Kelly would tell you his extraordinary ability comes down to one simple discipline—he spends time every day opening and closing his hand as fast as he can in five-second increments.
How fast could you open and close your hand in five seconds—10 times, maybe 20?
Kelly’s personal record is 85.
So, what if the secret to catching uncatchable things boils down to a “meaningless” daily discipline? What if your teenagers made the connection between the physical arrows flying at Kelly to the emotional/spiritual arrows that fly at their hearts every day? And what if spending daily time in the Bible, for the focused purpose of developing “muscle memory” about the heart of Jesus, could change the way they navigate their challenges in life?
I recently challenged the teenagers in our youth ministry to consider Anthony Kelly’s abilities as a metaphor for what Jesus wants to do in our lives—He wants to develop their “spiritual grit” through the daily practice of spending time with Him in His Word.
To be honest, I’ve not always given my teenagers a good handle on why daily time in the Bible is so important… I’ve urged Bible-reading as a should. Yes, I believe we should read the Bible every day, but making it a “should” isn’t healthy. If I’m merely guilting kids into it I’m telegraphing that reading Scripture is a chore, not an amazing opportunity to know the One who loves them completely. Sure, “shoulding” people into the Bible can produce short-term results, but in the long run their relationship with Jesus will deepen because they’re magnetically drawn to Him, not because they’ve been guilted into a Bible study routine.
I’ve treated the Bible like an encyclopedia. Maybe you’ve seen this acronym for the BIBLE: “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” Well, the Bible does have answers to our biggest questions, but it doesn’t operate like Google. While it tells us a lot about Jesus and the Christian life, it doesn’t tell us everything about Jesus. It’s as simple as we need it, yet not as simple as we want it. I can’t learn how to change the oil on my car by reading about it in the Bible, but I can learn how to treat the people who sell me the oil. There’s a difference in approach to reading Scripture that teenagers need to experience—so we frame Bible-reading as if we’ve discovered buried love letters, not as a spiritual Siri.
I’ve framed Bible-reading as a habit. Joshua 1:8 offers us this promise: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” A daily commitment to Bible-reading plants seeds of wisdom in us continuously, and helps us see and understand what the Spirit of Jesus is doing in our lives.
The crucial question is not “How do we get teenagers to open and read the Bible?”—it’s “How do we help teenagers open up to Jesus?”Click to tweet
With Jesus by their side, just as if Anthony Kelly was by their side, the “flaming arrows” launched at teenagers would have a defender well able to catch whatever was shot at them. The crucial question is not “How do we get teenagers to open and read the Bible?”—it’s “How do we help teenagers open up to Jesus?” It’s a relational focus that is fueled by a “buried love letter” approach.
- Invite teenagers to discover who Jesus says they are: John 1:12, John 15:15, Romans 5:1, 1 Corinthians 6:17-20, Colossians 2:9-10
- Invite teenagers to discover who God says He is: Genesis 17:1, Exodus 3:14, Psalm 46:10, Isaiah 28:16, Jeremiah 23:23-24, Mark 14:62, John 1:1-2
- Invite teenagers to discover how Jesus envisions the church: Matthew 16;18, Acts 1:8, Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Ephesians 2:20-22, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:24-25
Photo Courtesy of: jesse orrico