Read until your Heart gets hot

I learned something the other day that might help those of us who struggle with keeping a routine of reading the Bible. Here is my rough paraphrase of a talk Tim Keller gave to a group of pastors  …

Read slowly. Chew on the passages that grab your attention. Read until your heart gets hot and then move into prayer.

There is a difference between reading for information (or worse, to check it off my list) and devouring Scripture for its own sake. CS Lewis, in his book, An Experiment in Criticism, calls this “using” a book, as opposed to truly reading it and allowing it to move you. I have certainly been guilty of this. I use the Bible like a tool, to turn out sermons, find principles for life, and win arguments. But Scripture is more than a hammer or a good smart phone, it is a Spirit-breathed document created to mold us into the image of God. We must, as Mr. Lewis encourages us, surrender to it in order to fully experience its power. We need to move beyond using Scripture to receiving it.

I know no better way to do this than to approach Scripture with no other agenda than to listen closely to the Spirit of God whispering softly from its pages.  Only the humble, the quiet, and the slow will have ears to hear.  Begin with a prayer of surrender to the will of God, pray that he will break through the noise of your ambition and your busy life, and prepare yourself to savor the words as one would enjoy a fine meal or conversation with a friend.

Read through the passage slowly and stop when your attention is drawn to a word, a line or sentence.  Stay there a while, chew on the words and turn it over in your mind.  This is what the Scriptures call meditation. Think, mull, chew, and meditate until your heart begins to warm and the Spirit carries you into prayer. The language may move you to worship, call you to repent, or challenge you with a fresh vision for your life.  Pray in the direction the Scriptures take you. Allow the Holy Spirit to carry you from reading, through meditation and into prayer.

Let’s try this together (you can use one of the today’s Scripture readings.). Practice this for a couple of days and share your experiences by posting a comment.

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