Dear Peddie Church Family,
Greetings of joy as we celebrate the birth of the King Jesus and anticipate the New Year!
Continuing from the previous column, I would like to introduce the practical aspect of praying the Scriptures. Though there are a variety of ways the church fathers and mothers have prayed the Scriptures, I would like to introduce the one that I practice because of its simplicity. It involves only three steps.
(1) First, read the text out aloud slowly and highlight any words or sentences that speak to you.
If possible in your setting, read the text out aloud so that the Word would be both “in your mouth and in your heart” (Deut. 30:4).
Do not rush through the text but slow down, with much stillness between words. Our heart is a noisy place, filled with the noise of anxiety, fear, resentment, self-justification . . . Unless we become still and allow all the noise to subside, we won’t be able to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit.
(2) Second, go back to the highlighted texts and read them slowly several times until you memorize them.
This is the slow process of chewing the Word just as sheep chew the cud until it is digestible. As you recite the Word over and over, let it sink into your soul.
Remember that you are the one being addressed by God through these words. Ask God not merely what the text means, but what He is asking of you.
(3) Third, pray in response to the texts you’ve highlighted.
This is the most important step because just reading the Bible in itself does not change us, but responding to the Bible does.
In response to the Word, pray to God using the very words you’ve memorized.
Some verses can be directly lifted to God as prayer. For example, Psalm 28:1: “To You I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.”
Some verses need to be personalized as prayer. Just to give a random example from my personal quiet time, I recently meditated on 1 Kings 9:1f, which is God’s answer to Solomon’s prayer. It’s actually a warming: “If you walk before Me in integrity of heart and uprightness . . . But if you or your sons turn away from Me . . . I will reject this temple I have consecrated for My Name.” I received it as God’s personal Word to me, and prayed, “O Lord, I have no strength to walk on my own. Grant me the strength and grace to walk with You in integrity of heart and uprightness. I need Your constant help to keep my heart pure and upright . . .”
In the coming year, may the Lord help you grow in the personal knowledge of His Word and draw you deeper into His heart.
In the service of Christ,
– Pastor James