I don’t want to be guilty of reading the word without coming to the Lord while I read the Bible. By coming to Him, I mean connecting with Him, talking to Him while I read the verses.
In John 5:39-40 Jesus has a message for the Jewish leaders
39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. (Emphasis Mine)
OHHHHH! What this verse describes is lifeless religion with no connection, no conversation with the Lord in the study of His Holy word. It’s a warning for us to not be like this; reading and studying to gain head knowledge without also experientially knowing Him! He warns them that what they are doing is missing the mark. They are missing HIM!
I have recently revisited a resource by Mike Bickle at the International House of Prayer that I was impacted by about 15 years ago. It is a simple study on Journaling: How to “Pray-Read” the Scripture.
It is an exhortation to talk to the Lord as you read through the Bible. You pray passages from the Scripture back to the Lord. Mike Bickle gives instruction about what do when you encounter two categories of truth. First, truths that exhort you to believe and secondly, truths that exhort you to obey.
I. When you come to truths exhorting you to believe:
A. Take time to actually thank Jesus for the specific truth you are reading
B. Ask Him to reveal His truths to you in a greater way.
II. When you come to truths exhorting you to obey:
A. Commit yourself to obey what the passage describes.
B. Ask the Lord to empower you to obey the Scriptures.
He encourages you to journal by writing down the prayers to God.
Here is an example of this if I were reading through Colossians 1:15-18:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
I see it is a Scripture exhorting me to obey. I could take a moment and thank Him for the truth found in this Scripture, specifically verse 16.
“Thank you Lord that you have created all things. ‘All things’ includes me and my family, also my church family. You have created the beauty we see every day. The rolling hills and beautiful scenery. It is all created for you. I am created for you. Thank you for your creation. Thank you for creating me.”
It is helpful to remember the Lord is present with us and wants to engage with us. We can slow down and be patient as we thank Him. The Holy Spirit can use this to tenderize our hearts by simple declarations of thanksgiving.
I can take the same Scripture and ask Him to give me greater understanding of His truth.
“Lord, help me to see and understand this passage in a greater way. Open the eyes of my heart (Ephesians 1:17-18). What does it mean that all things were created through you and for you? What does that show me about the world around me? What does that show me about myself? My purpose? What does it mean for you to be preeminent?”
By doing this the Holy Spirit will cause our insight to gradually increase.
Another example would be coming to a Scripture that exhorts me to obey like 1 Peter 5:8-9:
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9
I commit myself to obey the truths here.
“Lord, I commit that I will walk sober. Help me to be calm and collected in my spirit. Help me to be vigilant, observant and watchful, understanding that the enemy is at work. Help me to be faithful to resist the enemy, to make choices for the Lord. Help me to hold fast to truth, to read and study the truth.”
It matters that we tell Him the intent of our heart. It is helpful for our resolve and will bring strength to our obedience.
I can also ask for Him to help me accomplish this commitment. Ask the Lord to empower you to do what He asks. When you ask of Him, He will answer. We find ourselves growing in grace over time.
These simple applications of prayer while we read the word are huge. It helps us engage with the Lord and “come to Him”
Jesus talked about sending Holy Spirit and that He is the Helper sent from the Father that will testify of Himself (John 15:26) and that He (Holy Spirit) will guide you into all truth, speaking what He hears and telling us things to come (John 16:13).
What a dynamic time awaits us in the word as we come connecting to the Lord, talking and conversing with Him, receiving help from Holy Spirit! It should encourage us to dive deep and talk often.
In Song of Songs 2:14 the Bridegroom is saying to His bride.
“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”
Jesus wants to hear our voice. What fuel for our quiet times! What encouragement for our Bible reading! He wants to hear me and I want to hear Him.
Matthew or Julie Wine