Growing in Christ
"He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45
Since turning to follow Christ I've read the Scriptures almost daily and found this verse to be true.
Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1), feeds us by the Word of God (Matthew 4:4) and reveals us to ourselves and God to us (Hebrews 4:12-13) in the Scriptures.
There are many simple, helpful ways to allow God to speak into your life through the Scriptures. Thank you for letting me share some of these with you. Please understand the point is simply to choose or adapt one of the following, or something like it, and use it in a daily, relaxed and unhurried fashion, listening in your heart and mind. This is the essence of meditation.
I've learned it invaluable to engage and respond to the Scriptures in three basic ways:
Read: I placed a bookmark in each of the five major sections of the Bible - history (beginning with Genesis), wisdom (beginning with Job), prophets (beginning with Isaiah), Gospels (beginning with Matthew) and letters (beginning with Romans) - then I read and reflect on a chapter a day, touching on each major section of the Scriptures each week.
Meditate: There are a variety of valuable ways to meditate on the Scriptures, inviting God to speak to our hearts, mind and lives. Remember meditation is not emptying one's mind but focusing one's mind on aspects of God's truth.
If you are new to the spiritual discipline of meditating on the Scriptures, may I suggest you try each of the following approaches (A.-D., below) for a specified period of time (I would suggest one month), then after four months evaluate and continue to use the approach to the Scriptures which you have found to be most helpful during the month you used it.
A. A mental process: Simply a) read a few verses quite slowly, b) read them a second time noticing 1 or 2 words or short phrases which speak to you particularly, and c) ask yourself why you think these words or phrases catch your attention as they do, and d) what you think God may be saying to you in them, and e) what you might do about that in a practical way today.
B. Discovery Bible Study: on a single sheet of paper draw two lines to make three columns:
In the first column hand-write a few verses of scripture (hand-writing enables remembering much better than reading or even typing) answering the question: "What does it say?"
In the second column re-write the same passage in your own words (enables us to better understand) answering the question: "What do I understand these verses to mean?"
At the top of the third column write "I will..." (to express how you will live it out) answering the question: "How will what God speaks to me in these verses change my life and behaviour?" "How will I allow God's Word to reshape my life?" (For more detail, click here.)
C. Lectio Divina is a traditional Catholic discipline developed in monastic settings. You can find more detail on the internet though the following may well be adequate to start as you engage a given chapter of Scripture each day:
Preparation (Silencio) - Prepare your heart in silence in the spirit of Samuel: "Speak Lord, your servant hears." (I Samuel 3:10)
Read (Lexio) - Listen for the word or phrase addressed to you.
Reflect (Meditatio) - How is my life touched by this Word? Where am I in the story?
Respond (Oratio) - What is my response at this moment? Confession, obedience, journaling...
Rest (Contemplatio) - reflect on God's Word to you in total yieldedness, like a weaned child (Ps.131:2)
Resolve (Incarnatio) - live it out. Choose an image, symbol, verse from the passage to help remember your intention through the day.
D. During the first year or two of my walk with the Lord I came across a small booklet outlining a path I found to be helpful. The practice in evangelical circles is simply called a "daily quiet time" - time alone set apart to pray and meditate on what you encounter in the Scriptures.
You will notice commonalities in the above approaches. I share them with only one motivation: that you will try several, choose one, use it consistently to experience the power and grace of the Word of God to you in your life.
Respond: In this process of meditation on the Scriptures I'm confident you will learn to sense God speaking to you. It is then important to respond within the relationship God is developing with you as you follow Christ. In so doing you will grow in Christlikeness, change aspects of your life which have held you back, enter into your mission in life, be strengthened for the storms of life and much more...
My years of experience with these simple disciplines with the God of the Scriptures I wouldn't trade for any other. My personal process is shared here.