One of the great benefits of a Personal Worship approach to solitude is the anticipation and expectation of “hearing the voice” of our Lord, the Great Shepherd and the Lover of our Soul. While the language I use is rather intuitive/feeler oriented, I believe that God desires to speak to us in ways we can comprehend. For some it comes through a sense or an impression. For others it comes as an insight or thought. For others, like John Wesley, it comes through an inner physical manifestation, like the “heart being strangely warmed.” For some it comes by way of words or phrases. For others it comes as a picture or scenario. In any case, God knows how to communicate to us in ways we understand and know that it is Him. Personal Worship simply puts us in a position to hear that “small, still voice.”
It is in the context of hearing God’s voice that I want to begin on the role of Scripture in Personal Worship. Although I believe God speaks powerfully through impressions, thoughts, and visions, His voice is most evident in the Bible. In fact, I view the Bible as the tool that gives the voice of the Holy Spirit “vocabulary” and “content” when He speaks to my soul. Unless I am a student of Scripture, I will never understand – with any precision or discernment – what the Holy Spirit is saying to me.
I also want to add at this time that it is easy for some of us to get into the “intellectual mode” of studying Scripture without having a sense that God will actually speak to me through it. I am not talking about the spiritual temperament of “intellect” as a form of connection with God, but the attitude that studies the Bible as if God wasn’t “in the room.” In a subtle manner, not addressing the probability of encountering God’s voice (which the ancient Hebrews called the Kol Yahweh, “the voice of the LORD”) is a form of arrogance that places our intellectual prowess over the Holy Writ. However, the object of Scripture reading in Personal Worship is not to master the Bible, but allow it to master over us. Like the disciples on Emmaus road, we need the voice of Jesus to make the Scriptures “burn” in our hearts (Luke 24:32).
There are many ways to approach the Bible in Personal Worship, and in the next blog I want to explore some of those ways. At this time, I just want to underscore the importance of having some kind of interaction with Scripture in our times with Jesus. While other spiritual disciplines can “enrich” our time with God, Scripture reading and prayer (which is how we communicate with God) are bedrock essentials.
In closing, I encourage you to reflect on these questions:
1. Is Scripture reading a part of your Personal Worship time? Why or why not?
2. Do you anticipate hearing God’s voice when you read and reflect on Scripture?
3. When was a time where the voice of Jesus opened the Scriptures to you and made your heart “burn”?
This is my daily bread, Your very Word spoken to me … And I’m desperate for You
(“Breathe” by Marie Barnett)