Reflective Bible Reading
by Lisa Hall, international prayer coordinator for TWR Women of Hope
This year we are going to be looking at many practical ways to grow in our prayer life with God, and I am beginning with the one that has been the most meaningful to me, Lectio Divina, the ancient practice of contemplative or prayerful reading of the Scriptures.
After becoming a Christian as a child, I spent my life reading, memorizing and studying the Scriptures on my own, in Bible college and with various church leaders. I knew a lot of details and information about the Bible and had a strong relationship with God, but I found myself longing for more intimacy with him and desiring to hear his voice in my day-to-day life. I wanted more.
In the past few years, I have continued reading and studying the Scriptures. But during my devotional reading time, I love to use the church’s 1,500-year-old practice of Lectio Divina – slowly reading and holding the Word of God, reflecting on it, listening and then receiving it into my life. It has led to a much more intimate relationship with God and a desire to understand in a practical way how we, his children, are to abide and dwell with him. We are called to a unity with God, and it involves a communion of our spirits.
Prayerful sacred reading is one way that believers over the years have cultivated their relationship with God. I’ve found it helpful to focus on a short passage or single verse in Scripture. Some verses you may want to begin with are Psalm 25:4-5, Colossians 3:16, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 19:12-14, 1 Peter 5:7, James 1:2-4, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Philippians 4:8, Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 32:8, Psalm 145:8-9 – really, almost any Psalm is a good choice.
There are six phases to this practice:
1. Silence – Before reading a short Bible passage, let go of your agenda, quiet yourself and surrender to God.
2. Reading/listening – Slowly read the short passage aloud, perhaps several times. What words catch your attention and speak to your heart?
3. Meditating – Repeat those phrases to which you are drawn. What is God speaking to you about them? How do they relate to your life? Reflect on them.
4. Praying – Give these thoughts and feelings to God in prayer. How is God leading you to pray? Respond to him with thanksgiving, confession and petition.
5. Contemplating – In silence, rest in God, listen to him and give him space to work in your life. What is God showing you? How is God revealing himself to you?
6. Incarnating – How can you live out what God has shown you today? How is God transforming your inner being or outer activities?
I would also encourage you to journal the passage and what God reveals to your heart and mind. Record your reflections and any actions that you need to take.
When we come to the Scriptures ready to receive from the living God whose Spirit lives in us, he can reveal truth to our hearts and minds that both transform and renew us. As we openly respond to his Word, we give God the opportunity to give us new perspectives, change our attitudes and actions, and breathe new life into our spirits. God longs to speak to us and communicate his heart. How are you drawing near to him to listen?