UNDERSTANDING NEW CHRISTIANS IN PRISON
THE IMPORTANCE OF BIBLE STUDIES
Bible study and prayer are very important in a Christian’s life. By studying the scriptures, an inmate can learn about God’s promises and truths. The books of the Bible bring to life others and their experiences with God. They show how faithful God is and that He never breaks a promise. Learning about these truths helps a new Christian, especially one in prison, to pray and trust in God more. This increases ones hope and belief that God will answer his prayers as well.
When your friend or family member’s prayers are answered, he will feel more secure in God and his faith will grow. Once healthy habits of Bible study and prayer are established, a new Christian will learn to lean on God more and more. His dependence on Jesus Christ as his Savior will take priority in his life and he will gain more and more peace every day.
It is important to study the Bible in a consistent and structured manner. Many new believers are so enthusiastic about learning the Bible that they take too many Bible studies and get burned out. I remember once doing eight or nine different Bible studies through the mail. There were times when I would just rush through them to get them done and go on to the next one. The Holy Spirit wants us to read and meditate on passages from the Bible so that we can apply them to our lives. Because I felt pressured to keep up with all of these studies to learn the Bible quickly, it was just a mental exercise, just head knowledge. It takes time to ponder and a slower pace to enter one’s heart and help him to grow spiritually.
If Bible studies are too “scheduled”, it becomes more of a task rather than a way of communicating with and learning about God. Sometimes while studying a specific subject, there may be a need to dig a little deeper into the Bible study to better understand and know God. Deeper studies take more time and slow the pace of “getting through” a book of the Bible. If a new Christian focuses too much on finishing a Bible study based on a certain schedule, he may miss out blessings that deeper Bible studies bring. The Holy Spirit may be leading him to study certain subjects more intently so that he can better apply them to his life.
Encouragement from relatives and friends outside of prison is critical here. You can ask the new Christian inmate about his Bible study and how it is going. You can ask him about what he read today. You can read it yourself and study it along with them by mail or visits. This positive reinforcement is invaluable. Mentoring or “discipling” a new Christian takes at least three years. This is true anywhere and shows how important it is to be consistent especially in an environment like prison.
A very good source for Bible study is Forgotten Man Ministries. This organization provides a simple yet thought provoking Bible study for jails and prisons. It teaches believers how to develop good Bible study habits. They offer certificates of achievement and give inmates free Study Bibles when the course is completed. FMM also has advanced Bible study courses. There is a list at the back of this book of Bible study courses similar to this.
A great source for daily devotions is the Daily Bread booklet. This booklet is printed every month (some are three months) and has a devotion for every day of the month. It includes a one page story and Bible verse with a message for the day. Most prisons have
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