We all want to hear and experience God coming to us, gently, patiently, with love, tenderness and power to transform us. However, for many of us there are barriers in our lives that prevent us experiencing the fullness that God has for us and that’s where the habit of Scripture reading comes in.
When we make space in our daily lives for the Bible, we open ourselves up to the possibility that when we do, we might be able to hear God’s gentle voice speaking hope and peace to us, speaking love and joy into us, speaking forgiveness and restoration over us, and offering us the very best he has: life. When we make space in our daily lives for the Bible we learn to welcome with affection the very Word of God into our lives, we learn to lean on God’s word for hope, help, and strength, and we learn to humble ourselves and stand in awe of God.
We all have a little baggage when we come to the Bible. Most of the baggage that we carry into the Bible is thanks to our authoritative interpreters, who cherry-pick the text to bend it to their will forcing us to accept their distorted picture of God. This is how many of us formed the distorted picture of God as an angry boss doling out blessings for a job well-done and curses when we screw up. Laboring under this picture of God has kept many of us out of the Bible and has prevented us from connecting with and drawing life from God.
But Jesus welcomed the Word into his life with affection and devotion. He did this because in the scriptures he discovered his calling and vocation. He discovered the truth that he reveals to us, that the God of the Bible is the good and beautiful God, a loving, compassionate, father who is always at work for us and our benefit. This God, his goal, his mission, is fill the earth with his glory.
Scripture reading can put us in the right frame of mind, it can activate our faith and release hope into our despair, teaching us to make space, and can be a great help and encouragement in our time of need. Jesus learned to lean on the Word of God as a source of encouragement, strength, and guidance as he discovered his vocation and calling. When we create space in our lives for the Bible, we allow God to speak to us and we learn to humble ourselves before God and listen as it speaks to us.
When make space for the Bible in our daily lives, we learn about a God who knows us intimately, so completely, so fully that nothing about us is hidden from him. Being known by this God makes it easy for us to surrender. And its in our act of surrender, we will come to find the freedom that we desperately seek, so can be forgiven and restored.
Here are some practical ways to engage with Scripture on a daily basis:
- Pick a verse that is speaks to you where you’re at in your life and insert your name into the verse, and pray it throughout your day.
- Look at the Word by putting verses on bookmarks, sticky notes, or planner and put these in prominent places—on your computer, mirror, refrigerator, or place where you work out so that you see them throughout the day.
- Find a verse that’s your “theme verse.” Make it your password, email signature line, or find/write a song that goes with it. Sing the song when you need a boost in your day.
- Say a verse along with your daily rituals to remind yourself of God’s presence in your daily life. For example when you’re bathing, “Purge me from my sins and I shall be pure. Wash me and I shall be clean indeed.”
- Review your day with the Lord once you climb into bed. Invite him with the following prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”(Ps. 139:23).
Calhoun, in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook describes the following three methods for approaching Scripture reading:
Artist Method. Read a passage of Scripture, considering three questions as you read:
- What speaks to my heart? Draw a heart beside the word that speaks to your heart.
- What new thought or idea comes to me? Draw a light bulb beside the new thought or idea.
- What does Scripture move me to do? Draw a hand beside the action you want to take.
Consider how you can apply one of your insights today. Share your insights with a friend.
Detective Method. Read a short narrative passage from one of the Gospels. Let the story take shape in your mind’s eye. Imagine the scene. Observe all the facts. Ask the who, when, where, what questions. What meaning did the actions have for the characters? What meaning do the actions have for you? Then apply your study to your own life. Ask how will this change my life? What do you take away from the story?
Treasure Seeker Method. When reading Scripture consider the following application questions: Is there an example here for me to follow? Is there a promise to claim or a command to obey? Is there a truth to be applied? Is there a prayer for me to pray? Is there a sin to be confessed? Is there a question God is asking me?
Jesus’ Apprentice Method. If you are unfamiliar with Scripture and don’t know where to begin, choose one of the Gospels (Mark or Luke) and study to discover all you can about Jesus. Ask yourself the following questions: What seems to be important to Jesus? What sort of questions does he ask people? What sort of questions do people ask him? What is Jesus inviting me to do?