The most difficult aspect of personal Bible meditation, application, and prayer is that most of us simply do not know what to do after we have read a passage. You look at it. You look at it again. You close in a prayer. Five minutes has gone by.
While basic Scripture reading is always helpful (God’s word is alive and will work!), this may keep us limited to intellectually knowing Bible stories or facts. But if we want to know the God of the Bible, if we want to love and obey him, then the word must dwell in us richly. This happens through meditating (i.e. thinking deeply) on Scripture and turning that meditation into prayer. In Eastern religions, “meditation” means to empty your mind. In Christianity, however, it means to fill your mind with God’s word. The result of filling your mind with God’s word is then pouring out adoration and confession and thanksgiving in prayer to God. This is where Bible reading will bear the most fruit. This will take you from reading the Bible to relating to the God of the Bible.
Over the next week or so, I’m going to write some posts which include questions that will, by God’s grace, facilitate meditation and prayer. There is not one way to meditation and apply the Scriptures, so I want to give you several questions that have proved helpful to me. (Note: None of this original to me!) These questions are all application-based, which means they are aimed not at acquiring information (though info is necessary), but at transformation. The point is to massage the word into your heart so that the word takes root and begins to change you. At first, this may seem difficult or clunky. It may even seem like work (it is!). So how will you get better at doing this? I’ll tell you what my dad told me about hitting a baseball: it will take practice and repetition (lots of it). Don’t be discouraged–by God’s grace you will endure!
To start, here are four questions to ask of any text.
- What does this say about God and how can I adore him for it?
- How do I fall short of this and what other things do I worship when I forget God is like this?
- How is Jesus the solution to this passage and to my sin (specifics from the Gospels or Epistles?) and how can I thank God for this?
- How does the Spirit empower me to worship, love, and obey Jesus in this?
These questions simply work through the popular A-C-T-S acronym (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (which is a fancy word for “asking”)).
How would you phrase these questions? What ones would you add that have been helpful to you? Be sure to check back in a couple days for more questions.