Describing Quality Bible Reading and Meditation in our Quiet Times
What does quality Bible reading or meditation times look like?
Bible reading is an important part of devotion times. Unfortunately, many say and believe, "Prayer is man speaking to God; reading God's Word is God speaking to man." This phrase unfortunately distorts what really is happening during good Bible study times.
Enlarging our love for God and knowledge of His will through spending regular times with Him in His Word.
Every day; morning is preferable
Meditates day and night?
Live ... on every word?
Lie down..rise up?
Examining ... daily?
It is often heard that Bible reading is God speaking to man. This is true, but in fact Bible reading should also be a time man expresses himself to God. Most Christians are poorly trained in both aspects.
To be honest most people do not sense God speaking to them at all through their times of Bible reading. They just read the Bible like any other book. They don't expect God to do anything. He doesn't. Could this be the main reason many struggle with keeping regular devotional times?
Once God's Word became popular by having it translated into the languages of the people and making it accessible, the evil one connived different ways to deafen God's people to His Word. He did this by the spirit of rationalism. He virtually stripped us of any expectation that God would really speak to us through His Word. (They do not believe God is real). As a result we read it only with our mind. The spiritual aspect has been stripped away.
Read through 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, and see how much you understand and can explain to someone else. What does it mean to be taught by the Spirit in our spiritual nature.
When Bible reading is properly done, it should as prayer have a reflective side to it. This is called meditation. Devotions are not devotions until we take God's Word by the Holy Spirit and interweave it with our lives. We might go over one verse of Psalms, one paragraph of Mark or one chapter of Jonah; it doesn't matter. The key part is as God's child you expect Him to meet you there. In a polite but firm way keeping reflecting over the passage, until He brings you something for the day.
We often run off too quickly to hear anything. When we do this, we show Him that we do not really need to meet Him. Matthew 4:4 says that we not only live by food but by His Word. This clearly tells us whether we feel it or not, we desperately need His Word. We need to restructure our lives so that we slow down and revive this desire for God to speak and thus help us with each day.
Let me share how God spoke to me through my reading of Psalm 138:1 one recent morning.
(A Psalm of David.) I will give Thee thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to Thee before the gods. (Psalm 138:1).
I needed to read the Psalm a few times before I 'heard' Him speak to me. I let God's Word enter my heart by the 'word by word' process. This means I went word by word in the first verse and focused on it. There are other ways not discussed here. Below I have marked different methods to reflect on God's Word.
Methods of Reflecting on God's Word: OXPET
Think of the opposite sense to the word, command, illustration, etc. These contrasts easily stir up the mind.
Expand and mildly exaggerate the sense of the word or verse. The more practical and personal, the better.
Personalize the key meaning by placing yourself in the context and situation being described. Substitute ‘your name’ for the one being used.
Emphasize a meaning by observing repeated words and phrases and personalizing them.
Translate elusive words, phrases or verses into your own easy-to-understand words.
Lord, it is I (E,P) that come to You this morning. David came before You long ago, but it is I who pray to you this morning. Others might pray or they may not, but I come because I love you. ("I" is often used to express personal devotion.)
Lord, it is inadequate to depend upon what I have done in the past (O - will speaks of future). I have set my heart to seek your face both this day and in the future. However, I do know, it is because what You have done in my life in the past that enables me with confidence to depend upon You this coming day. I trust you to faithfully lead me.
You always want me to give to you. This is what offerings (X) are. Actually, I only can give what You have given to me. Everything I have is yours. But you want me to give it not under compulsion but in a voluntary way. I give back (E) the things that you have given to me. This is the way you gauge my devotion to You. I will give those things that You desire. I (P) am not just asking for things. I will give You what You delight in. In this case it is praises and adoration.
Lord, I know there are a thousands of things and people who claim my attention (P) including my own desires. But Lord, I only want to give myself to You. I know of the temptations; I know of the distractions, -the email, the mail, the phone, the magazines, the programs, the movies, etc.. You, know, though, the steps I have taken to assure You that You get the best of my heart and time. You know I got up early this morning so I could meet You. You also know I didn't stay up late watching TV , playing games or just busy work so I could meet You. I love You.
I really appreciate all that you have given to me. I thank you for my life (P), for knowing You. I just don't understand why You would choose me. Thank you. Thank you for my dear wife and all my children. Thank you for taking me through an unplanned but beautiful career change. Thank you for keeping finances tight. I needed to know more of Your faithfulness. Thanks for so many things!
This word 'with' speaks of means or instrumentation (T,X). It shows how I will give thanks to you. I want to give you thanks not just with my lips. I want to use my heart to give you thanks.
This is the toughest word of all. This means (X) that you have my total attention. Please forgive me. I sense I am failing here. Please help me. I sense there are little parts of my heart that are not totally with it. They are otherwise focused. Please help me to discern these things and bring my heart as one to give thanks to Thee.
Lord, I can get so focused on what other people do or do not do, but miss out on my (P) part. Lord, You don't want me to be judging others but working hard to please You. I have in my possession only what You have given to me. Please take 'my' (E) things and longings and store them with You.
The heart is (T) the seat of my emotions and will. This is the center of my chief affections. What I love, I will do. With my heart I (P) deliberately give You thanks. Let me know more of Your magnificent ways so that I can praise You. Teach me about the excellencies of Christ. I want to thank You that I can trust you with my vulnerable life. You have put dreams and precious thoughts in my heart. I give them to You to fulfill for Your glorious purposes.
Summary of Bible Reading
There are many ways to actively meditate. This 'word by word' is just one means to have this reflective time in Bible study. In fact, we might tend to separate Bible reading and prayer, but they work best when one is doing both at the same time. Sure there might be a special intercessory time, but often this can be directed and empowered further by what God speaks to you that day.
What is your Bible reading like? Do you sense God's thoughts trying to get into your mind?
The next time you sense a dry reading of God's Word, first see if there is any unconfessed sin in your life. If so, confess it. Secondly, if there isn't, plead with Him that you need to hear Him speak to you. His Word says you need His word to live rightly that day. Keep meditating until God speaks. Even if you need to leave for work, take the word that you have meditated on and keep focused on it.
There are other important matters that need to be covered. How do we prepare ourselves for meeting with God?
Let's see the six important attitudes we need in order to come before God! Next