(This is part of a series on “Personal Worship” in the Whole Life Worship paradigm that started on 02/18/13)
As I mentioned in the last blog, the primary focus in Scripture reading is hearing God’s voice and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me into truth. What helps me to keep that at the forefront is beginning with a time of silence and a short prayer:
Lord, I believe You want to speak to me through Your Word. And I desire and long to hear Your voice. Grant me the grace to be attentive to You and to hear You. Block out the distractions of the world, the enemy and my flesh. Here I am, Your servant is listening.
There are many ways to approach Scripture reading in Personal Worship. Here is my usual discipline in my Personal Worship Scripture time:
1. I work through an entire book of the Bible, but one small bite at a time. I usually read 6-10 verses at a time. But I work through an entire book. It’s important for me to understand the context of Scripture – which is why I read entire books instead of isolated passages. Right now I’m reading the Gospel of Mark. I started before Christmas and I should be done before Easter.
2. I systematically read through the whole of the Bible. I alternate between the Old Testament and the New Testament (I end up reading the New Testament twice). There is a great benefit in reading the whole Bible; it gives such a full perspective of the history of God’s people. After I finish one book, I’ll check it off on the Table of Contents (so I know what I have and haven’t read). The next book I’m going to read through is Isaiah.
3. I read the short passage 4 times, taking a pause for reflection and listening for God’s voice between each reading. Tomorrow I’ll talk about the Lectio Divina (#lectiodivina) approach, which involves a different reflection process on each reading.
4. I’ll underline key phrases or words that the Holy Spirit seems to illuminate in my reading. These become focal points for meditation and prayer. Sometimes those words or phrases correlate to something I am facing in my life. Or perhaps they are something that confuses me (I’ll put a “?” besides that) and I use that opportunity to ask the Spirit to give me clarity.
I’m constantly talking with the Lord as I read saying things like: “I never saw that before, Lord” or “I don’t get it, what does this mean?” or “There’s something behind this You want me to get, isn’t there” or “I love how You responded to that person, Jesus” or “I’m getting nothing out of this – is it me or are you teaching me to be patient?” or “Whaaa?? Should I look this one up in a commentary or Wikipedia (yeah, I do that)?”
By keeping the relational focus as I read Scripture, it keeps it fresh, interactive, and about Jesus. I have rarely had a “dry moment” in the Word, because Jesus the Word of life is always with me. The Word is living, active and sharper than a two-edged sword. I’ve had many times when He pierced my heart during my readings. I’ve also had many experiences where I fall in worship in realization of who He is; how loving and merciful and wise and amazing He is. The Spirit opens the Word of God and my heart at the same time when I allow Him to take the lead in Scripture reading.
How do you approach Scripture reading in your Personal Worship? I invite your comments to share with our blog community.
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105)
2 thoughts on “Hearing God through Scripture – part 2”
I use several approaches towards reading scripture for my personal worship but the primary key for me is to get myself in a place where I can listen with my heart. Sometimes I need to just sit still and not read focusing first on my posture of comfort. If I am comfortable, I try to imagine why I’m comfortable and visualize myself sitting on Jesus’ lap leaning back into his chest, or perhaps I’m curled up against his shoulder and arm. If I’m uncomfortable I try to reposition myself into a comfortable place where I can visualize myself next to Jesus. Sometimes if I am really tired I have to sit for a long time and rest before I can even begin to connect with him this way. Once I find a way to connect with him at a real level, I can begin to hear him speak to me through his word in many of the same ways you mentioned. The connection needs to be real and heartfelt but it can be an emotional connection, a visual connection or even an intellectual connection. Sometimes if I struggle to make this connection, I just try to be real with him by telling him I’m having trouble connecting and ask him to draw me close. I might have only a little to give him of myself or a lot, but I will still hear him speak to me as long as I get real with him first.
Thanks, Lynne! I especially like your comment about sometimes needing to rest before we can connect with God. I think I beat up myself when I am too tired to focus, not realizing that God may be calling me to attend to my physical needs (like rest). It certainly makes a difference to be attentive to God’s voice in Scripture when I am well rested!