C.S. Lewis once said, “we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.” Think about this in regards to our prayers. Prayers that are filled with gratitude and thanksgiving toward God are the appointed consummation to delighting in God through His word. Genuine joy finds its completion in praise. The Scriptures undergird, guard, guide, and motivate our praying. As we find our delight in knowing God through His word, our hearts will be filled with joy that overflows into prayers of thanksgiving—not merely for the things God has given us, but more deeply for who God is and in how he cares for us, even when His caring comes through suffering.
In Psalm 19:10 David says that God’s word is “more desirable than much fine gold and sweeter than honey from a honeycomb,” do you believe that to be true in your experience? How do we delight in reading God’s word when it so often feels more like a duty? I think for most of us bible reading is not delightful because we do not see it as getting to know a person, but a intellectual exercise of religious duty. We often struggle with delighting in knowing God through His word not because we don’t believe the bible to be His word to us, but because our hearts fail to see the good effects of His word for us and are so easily entertained and distracted by lesser things.
So how do we go from duty to delight in reading God’s word? What steps can we take to help us experience God’s word as better than much fine gold and sweeter than honey from a honeycomb? Below is a simple and practical way for our heart to be formed by the gospel as we are lead by God Himself and learn to listen to Him and respond accordingly.
- Read: A small passage of Scripture and learn to listen deeply as you wait quietly for the Holy Spirit as you read, listening for Him to speak personally to you through his Word. If reading with your community, read it slowly and aloud. Make a mental note of a word, phrase or sentence that struck you as you read
- Reflect: Meditate on the Scripture by thinking carefully about what it teaches – what does it say about God and what he’s done? What does it say about me and who I am? Slowly repeating the Word to yourself so that it interacts with, and informs your thoughts and feelings, your beliefs and desires. If reading with your community take turns sharing a sentence or two about what word or phrase struck you, what God is saying to you and how he is calling you, specifically, to respond.
- Respond: Pray using the actual words of the passage in your prayer, responding honestly to what He has told you. We can go to him and respond to His Word by offering our hearts to him in conversation. If reading with your community, pray no more than a sentence or two and speak of how God wants you to respond as a community.
- REST: Silently rest in the Gospel by consciously putting yourself in the unconditional, loving embrace of God as His word focuses you again on Christ’s indwelling presence. So simply stay there with Christ in love, joy, and peace.
FOUR SIMPLE QUESTIONS: As you read through a book of the Bible ask these simple questions of the text
- What does this tell us about God?
- What does this tell us about what God has done?
- Who are we according to this passage?
- What does it mean to obey this passage, what does it tell us to do?