John Piper participated in a panel discussion during the T4G 2020 Livestream called “Advice to Young Pastors.” In this portion of the discussion, he addresses the pastor’s personal spiritual care and “reading for your own soul” as opposed to reading for others in preaching/teaching (there is a big difference). Piper pushes for a simple meditative thought for personal devotions that will benefit pastors and all Christians:
“If you read for your own soul, and you say to the Lord while you’re reading, ‘Lord I have to have something to hold onto today, something very specific, something very concrete.’ I’ve generally read 4 or 5 chapters a day…. I cannot begin to hold four chapters in my mind all day long. They’re all just a big haze. Well, haze serves nobody! I have to have a handle. And the handle has to be a sentence I can remember. So find your sentence in your four chapters, hold onto it all day, put it like a lozenge under your tongue, suck everything out of it you possibly can. And here’s what happened: more often than not, that handle for my soul proved to be what my elders needed, what the hospital person needed, what my wife or child needed. In other words, not focusing on the text for ministry, had the indirect effect of making me authentic….” (time stamp 26:09, emphasis mine)
I truly do agree with this! My average, non-photographic mind cannot begin to fathom holding onto four or five chapters of the Bible. Many of us have walked away from our Bible reading and have said to ourselves, “What did I just read?” Thankfully, Piper gives the remedy: “Find Your Sentence!” Such a simple and practical truth. We don’t need to feel guilty for not memorizing every single chapter, verse, and word that we read for that day (not downplaying the discipline of memorization!). Instead, here is the point: meditate on one sentence each day! Focus on one concept, one verse, ONE SENTENCE that you can meditate on, study, chew, and apply for that day. That will benefit you and may even benefit others that you speak with during the day.
Here is the panel: