Moving From Reading to Relating

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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.

  1. What does this say about God and how can I adore him for it?
  2. How do I fall short of this and what other things do I worship when I forget God is like this?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.


What does it mean to have the peace of God?

J.I. Packer gives the answer in his book Knowing God:

Too often the peace of God is thought of as if it were essentially a feeling of inner tranquility, happy and carefree, springing from knowledge that God will shield one from life’s hardest knocks.  But this is a misrepresentation, for on the one hand, God does not featherbed his children in this way, and anyone who thinks he does is in for a shock, and on the other hand, that which is basic and essential to the real peace of God does not come into this concept at all…

The peace of God is first and foremost peace with God; it is the state of affairs in which God, instead of being against us, is for us. No account of God’s peace which does not start here can do other than mislead. One of the miserable ironies of our time is that whereas liberal and radical theologians believe themselves to be restating the gospel for today, they have for the most part rejected the categories of wrath, guilt, condemnation and the enmity of God, and so have made it impossible for themselves ever to present the gospel at all, for they cannot now state the basic problem which the gospel of peace solves.

This has application for when we pray for people, especially. How many times have you prayed for someone who is not even a Christian, “Lord, give them peace.” I’ll raise my hand on that one. What kind of peace are we praying for? in a situation? with a friend? It’s impossible for them to experience any kind of peace, as Packer points out, unless they have peace with God himself.

The only way for anyone to have that peace is to receive Jesus as their substitute Savior — as the one who took their place on the cross in order to satisfy God’s wrath against sin. When sin, condemnation, and guilt are out of the way, a river of peace will rush in and overwhelm the most weary of souls.