“Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly” (Colossians 3:16).
Thank God for the Bible! What a treasure store it is — inspired by the Holy Spirit, authoritative as our rule for life, and drawing us to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it is filled with the words of life that we need to internalize.
When we read (or listen to) the Bible rightly we submit ourselves to it (rather than using it to support our theology or agenda) and so we find that God surprises us with insights, convictions, and encouragements. The Bible washes our minds and restores our souls. It is manna from heaven. When God speaks, as he does so clearly in the Bible, he gives us his abundant and eternal life today.
The Word of God
Jesus himself lived by Scripture as his guide and his nourishment for life. He spent large amounts of time interacting deeply with Scripture in a variety of ways: reading, studying, memorizing, meditating, and praying the words of God which he obeyed and fulfilled perfectly.
Time. Depth. Variety. Jesus went far beyond using a “Daily Quiet Time.” Because he saturated himself with God’s words over the course of his lifetime they provided his life mission statement, strengthened him to resist Satan’s temptations, taught him to compose and use the Lord’s Prayer, inspired his wisdom to develop and live out the Sermon on the Mount, informed him about the cross, and helped him to endure the cross (and all his trials) and overcome by the love of the Father and the power of the Spirit.
Jesus is the eternal Word of God that took on human flesh and lived amongst us. The value of the words of God is when they lead us to the Word of God, Jesus Christ, so that our discipleship to him is furthered. If Scripture doesn’t lead us to put our confidence in the risen Christ with us — drawing closer to him, loving him more, and relying upon him in all that we do — then it is not only ineffective for us, it is damaging, if not deadly! (John 5:39)
Bible Reading and Solitude
Bible reading is the most fundamental discipline of engagement. Just as all the disciplines of self-denial are helped by solitude so all the disciplines for connecting with God and others and assisted by interacting with Scripture.
Scripture and Solitude complement and strengthen one another. They are a prime example of the relationship between the disciplines of abstinence and engagement. Solitude makes soul space to absorb Scripture, particularly when we devote hours to be alone and quiet before the Word of God. Praying Scripture gives us strength to endure and benefit from solitude.
Examples to Help you Pray Scripture
The resources links below (under “Other Disciplines…” and “Additional Resources…”) include dozens of Scripture prayers. Here are a few that we and many other people have found especially helpful:
- Before you begin reading a Bible passage pause to pray as the little boy Samuel did: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9, 10).
- Pray the Lord’s Prayer meditatively, using each phrase to spin off personalized prayers. (See “A Pocket Lighter to Ignite your Heart“)
- Pray Psalm 23 slowly, picturing or paraphrasing each verse to help you connect with Jesus as your Good Shepherd and follow him on the path of life. (We have many Psalm 23 resources, including “Psalm 23 Pictures to Pray.”)
Other Disciplines Related to Bible Reading
Bible Reading is a main discipline for engagement with God and others in the Body of Christ. It is an indispensable discipline that goes with and supports all of the other disciplines. (For instance, many of the subdisciplines of Prayer rely upon Scripture.) Here are some subdisciplines of Bible Reading, along with some Soul Shepherding resources to further your use of Scripture to be formed into the image of Christ:
- Bible Study: Focusing your mind through study and analysis on learning and internalizing God’s Word. (We have Bible Studies on many topics.)
- Scripture Meditation: Thinking deeply about a passage from the Bible, exploring your feelings, and praying about the personal application God would have you to make. (We have many resources on Scripture Meditation.)
- Scripture Memorization: Committing passages of the Bible to memory — especially whole sections or chapters. (See our resources on Scripture Memory.)
- Biblical Imagination: Using your imagination, in reliance upon the Holy Spirit, to help you understand Scripture, enter into it, and receive what God has for you. (We have many Picture Prayers based on favorite Bible passages.)
- Spiritual Reading: Learning from literature that helps you apply Scripture to live for Jesus Christ — especially the devotional classics and hymns. (We have a number of resources inspired by the Classics of devotion.)
Additional Resources on Bible Reading
Here are some key Soul Shepherding resources to help you to use Bible Reading to grow your intimacy with Jesus and your fruitfulness for him:
- Bible Studies: Soul Shepherding Bible Studies cover many topics
- “Electric Passages for Scripture Memory“: List of key Bible passages to memorize
- “Lectio Divina Guides“: Index of key Bible passages with our one sheet guides for Lectio Divina
- Psalm Prayers: Index of meditations and prayer poems inspired by particular Psalms
- “God’s Love Letter to You“: What if God were to write you a letter? He has in this compilation of Scriptures!