The Power of Scripture Engagement
Reading my bible is an emotional and powerful experience. It hasn’t always been that way.
When I became a Christian at nineteen years old, I made the mistake that a lot of people make: I opened my bible at the beginning, expecting to read it like a novel from start to finish. This continued okay for a while, but eventually, I got bored (you know exactly what I mean.) I tried to push through, but I got overwhelmed by trying to keep up with my over-committed plan. I wanted to be disciplined, but I just felt defeated. And I didn’t know why I should keep going.
All my half-hearted attempts at reading the bible amounted to a lot of guilt and feeling like I wasn’t a good Christian. I kept thinking, “Why am I struggling so much even though I love God?”
When I learned to read the bible in a different way—in a way that made scripture come alive as a conversation with God, everything changed. Now, when I read scripture, I soak in the sound of a familiar voice—the voice I open my bible and my heart for almost every day.
Does the Method Matter?
The Word of God is powerful and useful for equipping us to live a life of righteousness. God teaches, rebukes, and corrects us through our reading of scripture.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-7 NIV)
I don’t believe there is one right way to read the bible. God speaks to us in any way that we are open to hearing from Him. But, if we’re honest with ourselves, do we read our bibles with open ears and open hearts? Do we intentionally seek His voice—His direction and correction—in the scriptures?
I believe we can learn to read the bible in a way that brings glory to God and honours the importance of His Word and the Holy Spirit. When we do that, God's truth transforms from something we know to something we can apply to our lives.
This shift occurs when we add scripture engagement to our study of the bible. Bible study is important for growing in wisdom and having a deep understanding of God’s truth. Engaging in the scriptures allows us to build on that knowledge so that we can experience deeper spiritual growth and life transformation.
Reading the Bible as a Conversation
I was recently acquainted with the term “lectio divina.” It’s the fancy Latin term for this type of scripture engagement. Essentially, it’s an intimate way of communicating with God through the reading of scripture and prayer. We often talk to God but don’t give him a chance to communicate back to us (and we wonder why God isn’t speaking to us!)
Instead of talking at God, we can dialogue with God. This is why bible reading has become something I crave in my day. It brings me closer to God, which is always what I need.
I get my bible, my journal, and a pen, then I’m ready to have a life-changing conversation with God.
Read a passage of scripture and mark what words and phrases stand out to you. Stop after something causes you to pause and take notice (often no more than 10-15 verses.) In your journal, write down what you read. You can also expand upon it with the overall theme or context of the passage.
Pray and ask God what He wants to speak to you in that verse. You can ask specific questions like “How does this apply to my life right now?” or “What do you want me to start doing?” Be still and listen. Then, write down your best impression of what you think God is speaking to you. If you’re not sure, you can continue talking to God for clarification or take your best guess and continue thinking about it through the day.
Pray again, this time in response to what you feel God is speaking to you. This can be a powerful time of submitting yourself to God and committing to following the guidance He has given you. Thank the Holy Spirit for being your wise counselor. Consider writing down your prayer in your journal.
The Power of Transformation
Twelve years ago, as a new Christian, I struggled to read my bible. I struggled to understand my next steps in my walk with God.
Now, bible reading is something I love and one of my passions is teaching women how to fall in love with bible reading too. I don’t always know my next steps with clarity—faith takes trust—but I do always feel near to God as I take those steps.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)
Reading my bible every day has transformed my life, transformed my marriage, and transformed my relationship with God.
When I picture my fellow sisters being transformed by the renewing of their minds, I am filled with excitement at the work that God will do through us. Today, I invite you to open your bible and listen for the voice of God. Your life will be changed.