While reading Richard Foster’s book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (a great book I highly recommend), I discovered that meditating on the Bible is different than studying it or analyzing it or – my apparently preferred method of reading it – blazing through it at breakneck speed, trying to complete the 1 year reading plan within the year while failing to read it 2 out of every 3 days. Foster says that when you meditate on the Bible (he calls it Meditative Prayer) the focus is on “internalizing and personalizing the passage. The written Word becomes a living word addressed to us.” This sounded intriguing to me, so I decided to meditate through the Gospel of Luke. Sweet nectar of life! What a wonderful experience it was! I found myself wishing that someone had taught me to read the Bible like this a long time ago and I wanted everyone to be able to experience the sweet communion with God that I was tasting. Thus the blog.
For the next several months I’ll be meditating through the Gospel of Matthew. I’d love to have you join me. Obviously, since meditating means personalizing, we each have to do our own work and pray that God would speak to each of us individually as we read His Scripture. My plan is to post a very short section to read each day along with some observations on the passage and some questions to ask ourselves. I’m not planning on doing any sort of exegesis or preaching, just observing and asking questions. The point of this study is not to move through the Bible quickly, but to wallow like a pig in mud in each passage, rolling around in it and saturating our minds with just a little piece of Scripture each day and then chew on it like a cow chewing her cud – chew it, swallow it, bring it back up again, chew it some more, chew it some more, swallow it, then ta-da it’s helped you to produce some good milk. With all this wallowing and cud-chewing, this should be called barnyard meditation.
Since we’ll only be reading 10-30 verses each day, I highly recommend that you read them in several translations. I read them in 4 versions: ESV, NIV, NLT, and The Message. You can get big fancy Bibles that have several versions in one, you can sit down with a giant stack of Bibles, or you can read it online at sites like Biblos and BibleGateway. I will occasionally post some of the notes from my study Bible if they are particularly interesting, but I definitely recommend reading a Study Bible or finding the notes online. Get a journal and write your thoughts and prayers down so you can review them later. I would love it if you would post what struck you in each passage in the comments section, especially if it’s something I missed. The more brains and perspectives we have, the more we will be able to dig out of the passage.
My goal is to post a new section 4 days a week (ideally, Monday – Thursday) and then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will be cud-chewing days. Review what you’ve read and discovered over the week. Some of the questions will lead to necessary action, so think about when/if you’ve had a chance to obey God’s instructions for the week.
Most importantly, ask God to reveal His Word to you. Don’t start this process without praying that God would give you a hunger and desire to meditate on His Word. He does all the work in us, so if you try soldiering through on your own, you’ll last about 3 days. Probably less. Set aside a realistic and reasonable amount of time to sit down with God each day. I use the hour in the middle of the day when both of my kids are sleeping/resting. Have confidence that if you make time for God, He will meet you there and you will grow in your relationship with Him.
For the longest time I was frustrated and disappointed in the lack of growth and depth in my relationship with God. Then I thought about how little time I gave to Him on a daily basis and realized that if I spent such a miniscule amount of time with my husband each day (not to mention that most of the time I spent with him was asking for things) he probably would have divorced me ages ago. So thank You God for sticking with me even though I wasn’t contributing much to our relationship and Thank You for this new season of intimacy.