WHY PRAY SCRIPTURE? SOME ENCOURAGEMENTS AND SOME CHALLENGES
In Ronald Klug’s book, “How To Keep a Spiritual Journal,” he writes:
“I consider the time spent writing in my journal as Sabbath time—a time of rest and solitude, a time to come apart to be with God and to reflect on his Word, to search for his will, and to record the insights I receive. My journal has been the channel of many blessings.”
Your journal, as with Mr. Klug, will become a “channel of many blessings,” not only to yourself, but to others here as well. Of course, there will be some things you must keep to yourself, very personal things. In the Middle Ages, it was common practice to keep spiritual journals. And upon their deaths, these great men of God would order that their journals be burned. So, it can be said that there were things written therein that weren't for prying eyes. So, there will be some things that will be just between you and your Redeemer. But, as Mr. Klug writes, this will be a time to “record the insights” you receive in your reading. The Holy Spirit Himself will be opening a channel in you to receive from HIM deeper insights into Jesus Christ. You will learn more “of” Him and “from” HIM and “about” HIM. Some of these insights may be about your own fallen nature without Christ. Some may be how amazing is HIS grace. There may be a new insight into the wonders of HIS person. This list goes on and on. Such things as these will become not only a channel of blessing to yourself, but to others as well.
Out of the same book, quoting Elton Trueblood:
“The very act of writing can be remarkably creative. When I sit down with the paper in front of me, I know in general what I want to say, but I seldom know the details. As the ideas are expressed in written form, however, they begin to grow and to develop by their own inherent logic. Always I am a bit surprised by what has been written, for I have become in some sense an instrument.”
Do you see what Elton writes: “Always I am a bit surprised by what has been written, for I have become in some sense an instrument.” You too will find yourself being surpised, perhaps even delighted at the things that you have written. You will be writing things that you didn’t know you knew until you actually started writing. Each journal entry will be like a pilgrimage in which you are uncertain as to the destination--but HE will guide you. He will take you where you need to be.
And this really is one of the biggest challenges in such writing. You never are certain in sitting down that you have a thing to write or say. I have had those feelings often. It seems to be an act of faith each time I sit down to write, and no matter how spiritually dry I may be at the time, it seems that God always comes through. This is in fulfillment of the scripture: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to us.”
REFLECTION AND MEDITATION ON THE WORD OF GOD
Andrew Murray writes:
“Take time. Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive, through the Spirit, the assurance of His presence with you. His power working in you. Take time to read His Word as in His presence, that from it you may know what HE asks of you and what He promises you. Let the Word create around you, create within you a holy atmosphere, a holy heavenly light, in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life.”
So we approach scripture with a sense of awe and reverence, knowing that there are treasures buried there in ink that the Spirit of God would quicken to life in Christ Jesus our Lord. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:
“Just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart, as Mary did. That is all. That is meditation. ”
For me, there is a point of departure from analyzing the word to praying the same word in praise and gratitude. I think writing and praying the scriptures this way is what starts the incredible journey of the 18 inches from the head to the heart, because our writing is our love letter to the Divine Author of these words. As Mary pondered these things in her heart, we too approach scripture with this same attitude of tenderly rocking them in our heart like a small child. The purpose of this type of meditation of scripture is not to gain more spiritual information or knowledge, but to experience the truth of these words as spirit and life at the deepest level of who we are as followers of Christ.
Thomas A Kempis writes:
“Our own curiosity often hinders us in reading the Scriptures, because we wish to understand and argue when we should simply read on with humility, simplicity, and faith.”
The Scriptures are such a sea profound because they speak of Jesus Christ. He is fathomless, bottomless, incalculable, infinite. If we read something that bumps into our understanding, or our theology, this is no time to argue about it, but to press in to know HIM. The nature of Christ is always one of challenge. Each time we come to scripture, we come as little children rather than scribes and philosophers. If we do come as little children, much more will be made known to us. If we come as scribes and philosophers, we may come too full of our own ideas to hear from the Master Teacher who would “lead us into all truth.”
Jeanne Guyon writes:
“Come before the Lord and begin to read. Stop reading when you feel the Lord drawing you inwardly to Himself. Now, simply remain in stillness. Stay there for awhile.”
This is good advice. In praying scripture, you may come upon just a single word that shimmers a bit and invites you to lean into what is being spoken to you. There may be no need to capture the entire grandeur of the thought being presented, but a mere fragment may be enough for you. This is a slow, rhythmic, meditative approach to scripture that is not of the hare but of the tortoise. The hare quickly jumps from thought to thought, just passing through, to get to its destination. The tortoise revels in the journey itself, slowly enjoying the scenery and TAKING IN every sight and sound. And that’s the whole point, to “Take In” every sight and sound of scripture that reveals something of Jesus Christ.
Here is some advice that Mr. Klug gives.
1. You do not have to be in some special mood to do this. It’s important to keep at it regularly, despite your feelings or your apparent lack of success.
2. Don’t be bothered too much by distractions. If while you are pondering a passage of Scripture your thoughts wander to some situation or person, pray briefly and commit that situation to God. Then allow your thoughts to return to the passage.
3. Don’t be frustrated if your mediation on scripture does not yield instant results in your life. This process involves the slow making over of your thinking and emotions, and that takes time. But to those who remain faithful to the discipline, results will come. A.W. Tozer describes the process.
“I think for the average person the progression will be something like this: First a sounding as of a Presence walking in the garden. Then a voice, more intelligible, but still far from clear. Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the Scriptures, and that which had been only a sound, or at best a voice, now becomes an intelligible word, warm and intimate and clear as the word of a dear friend. Then will come life and light, and best of all, ability to see and rest in and embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and All.”
And thus, my friends, it’s all about Jesus. We come to scripture wanting to know more of HIM, and that is all. Nothing more and nothing less. Jesus Christ is “all in all.” In our reading of scripture we are in pursuit of HIM who has always pursued us. We are seeking fellowship and intimacy with our precious LORD, in our reading and in our praying.
More encouragements to follow and some practical guidelines.
Christ In You Is My Hope of Glory,