Last week, I wrote about Reading Scripture Relationally. God has given us the Bible so we might connect with Him in authentic relationship! As we read scripture relationally, we know God for who He is and open ourselves up to be known by Him. This creates space in our lives where we can bring our real selves to meet with God where real growth, healing, and change can take place.
How can we read the Bible relationally?
To begin with, read a shorter passage of scripture: one chapter or Psalm, one story, one passage under a heading, or a group of verses. I typically read shorter passages at a time, while working through a book of the Bible. I reread parts and respond with thought and prayer. For each idea below, I’m sharing a link to a passage of the Bible you can try this with.
Then try one of the following ideas with that passage:
- Read with three questions in mind: Who is God? (or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit) Who am I? How do I respond? All three questions may connect with a passage, while just one of these questions might work well. Try this with Philippians 4:5-7. For example, consider what, “The Lord is at hand,” tells us about who God is.
- Slow your reading and put yourself in the story. Read the story through. Then imagine you are a bystander or a character in the story. Read it again and ask: What do you see, hear, smell? Might you touch or taste anything? What is your emotional response? The people in these stories are human, and much of our human nature is similar to them, though separated by time and culture. What can I learn from this passage? Does it relate to my life in any way? (Consider heart attitude, desires, sin, relationships, motivations…) Try this with Mark 10:46-52. (This is similar to a classic way to engage with scripture that was written about by Ignatius of Loyola.)
- Read, listening for how God is speaking into your life. First, read the complete passage through. Then, go back and read it a second time, paying attention to any phrase that stands out to you or catches your heart. Pause, think on that phrase, and listen to what God is speaking to you. Then read it a third time. Prayerfully talk with God. How can you respond? Response could involve external action, such as being careful with your words or serving in some way. But it can be internal, such as giving thanks, confession, thinking on who God is, giving God some part of your life. or asking God for something. Oftentimes, I have memorized a short phrase that stood out to me and thought about it during the day. This creates opportunity for my heart to connect with Jesus throughout my day! Try this with Isaiah 43:16-21. (This is my simplified description of a spiritual discipline practice called lectio devina, or devotional reading. Refer to Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun for further reading.)