10 Ways to Love the Word More
10 Ways to Love the Word More
When the Psalms describe a follower of God, they say things like, “His delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night” (Psalm 1), and “The ordinances of the Lord are more desirable than gold, than an abundance of pure gold, and sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb” (Psalm 19), and “God’s statutes are the theme of my songs for all my life” (Psalm 119).
So is that the way you feel about God’s word? That it tastes better than the sweetest thing you’ve ever eaten? That it inspires songs in your heart all day long?
We have more translations and versions of God’s word than at any other point in history. You can get the Bible for Athletes, the Bible for Nurses, the Bible for Environmentalists. You can get the Anime Bible, or the James Earl Jones Audio Bible (which I totally need. Darth Vader reading the Bible to me? Sign me up!) There’s the Bible for Surfers, the Bible for Skaters, even the Bible for Artists that’s got space for you to doodle your interpretations of Scripture in the margins.
We’ve got more ways to access God’s word than ever before. If you have a smartphone and data access, you walk around with the Bible in your pocket all day long, every day. But a lot of people I talk to still aren’t reading it that much.
So how do we grow in our love for God’s word? How do we start to delight in God’s word like the Psalmists did? Donald Whitney has 10 great suggestions in his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. As you’re reading the Bible, try these ideas:
#1: Emphasize Different Words in the Text
This method takes the verse or phrase of Scripture and turns it like a diamond to examine every facet. A meditation on Jesus’ words at the beginning of John 11: 25 would look like this: “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.”
#2: Rewrite the Text in Your Own Words
Imagine that you are sending the verse you’ve chosen in a message to someone. How would you convey the content of the verse faithfully, yet without using the words of that verse? Paraphrasing the verse you are considering is also a good way to make sure you understand the meaning.
#3: Formulate a Principle from the Text
What Does It Teach? While this method can work when you are meditating on a section as short as one verse or as long as a chapter, it works especially well when your focus is on more than just a sentence or two. Think of it as a type of summary of the main message of the passage. This method might be compared to developing a thesis statement for the section of Scripture you’ve read.
#4: Think of an Illustration of the Text
What Picture Explains It? An illustration is a word picture that explains, clarifies, or confirms the object of your meditation. It can be a personal anecdote, an event in the news or in history, a quotation, an analogy, a song — anything that throws light upon the text.
#5: Look for Applications of the Text
The outcome of meditation should be application. Like chewing without swallowing, so meditation is incomplete without some type of application. Ask yourself, “How am I to respond to this text? What would God have me to do as a result of my encounter with this part of His Word?
#6: Ask How the Text Points to the Law or the Gospel
One way of thinking of the Bible is that it presents us with God’s Law and God’s gospel. The Law (basically the Old Testament) consists of what our holy and just God requires of people for them to have the righteousness necessary to live with Him in heaven. The gospel (basically the New Testament) is the good news of how our loving and merciful God has provided through Jesus the righteousness He requires in His Law.
#7: Ask How the Text Points to Something About Jesus
This is similar to the previous method, but it focuses entirely on the person and work of Jesus Christ. After His resurrection, as Jesus was walking on the road to Emmaus with two believers, we’re told that “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24: 27). Essentially this approach to meditation attempts to do the same thing; that is, it examines the text to see how it might point to something about who Jesus is or what He did.
#8: Ask What Problem Is Solved by the Text
In this approach, you regard the text before you as the answer to a question or the solution to a problem. With that assumption, you ask, “What is the question?” or “What is the problem?” If you are meditating on “Jesus wept” (John 11: 35), what question does that answer?
#9: Pray Through the Text
This method especially can help you express the spirit of the psalmist in Psalm 119: 18: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” The Holy Spirit is the Great Guide into God’s truth (see John 14: 26). Moreover, Christian meditation is more than just riveted human concentration or creative mental energy. Praying your way through a verse of Scripture submits the mind to the Holy Spirit’s illumination of the text and intensifies your spiritual perception.
#10: Memorize the Text
Memorization stimulates meditation. When you are memorizing a verse, you think about it. The mental repetition of the text required by memorization simultaneously fosters reflection on it. And after you memorize a verse of Scripture, you can meditate on it during your commute, while on a walk, as you are preparing a meal, when you are falling asleep, or any other time you choose.