Do you get heartburn when you read your Bible?

Posted: December 20, 2008 in Get Close to God, Metaphorically Speaking...

Seventh in the series Get close to God

bible200If reading God’s word does not cause your heart to burn, then something is wrong.  But I’m not talking about indigestion. 

When Jesus brought up all the things concerning himself in the Scriptures to the couple on their road trip from Jerusalem, they said after he left, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was explaining the Scriptures to us? 

Since I’ve been a Christian for quite a few years now, I’ve become so familiar with Bible passages that I can gloss right over the verses, thinking that I’ve seen them before and know what they mean.  Sometimes I would read a chapter or two without learning anything new.  I would depend on my previously underlined sections to encourage and challenge me once again, but until recently my Bible reading was more of a duty than a delight.  This has all changed since I discovered contemplative prayer.  My friend, Lewis, got me started with this when he would email me prayers using Scriptures.  I then found a DVD on the subject, which fueled me to dive into further research.

Would you like to hear from God?

Lectio Divina is a traditional Christian practice of praying with scripture and is intended to bring about close communion with God by cultivating the art of listening to his still, small, voice.  It is not mystic channeling; rather, it’s inviting the Holy Spirit to help us grasp the revelation we need that’s already contained in the scriptures and to show us how to apply it personally.

Begin by finding a quiet place without distractions and invite God to speak to you through his Word.  Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight the verses he wants to bring to your attention.

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law”  Psalm 119:18

READ: You can pick any book of the Bible, but a great place to start is one of the gospels.  Read the passage out loud, or at least read it silently at the same pace as you would out loud.  Speed reading won’t work; that only gets you ahead of God.  It takes time for truth to soak in.  Don’t set a goal to get through a certain amount of chapters.  Just read until something speaks to you in a personal way.

“He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24:45

REFLECT: Read the passage that affected you three or four times out loud until you can recite it from memory.  Prayerfully ponder what God is trying to teach you.  Write the passage down in your journal to encourage you later.  I also jot it down on a post-it note where I will see it throughout the day.

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”  1 Samuel 3:9

RESPOND: Ask the Lord what he is inviting you to do.  He may convict you to confess or repent of sin.  You might want you to do something, or he might just want to encourage you, to enjoy his presence, and to bask in his love.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

REST: This can be the most difficult part and requires practice.  God can’t get through to us (or chooses not to) when our mind is racing in many different different directions.  We need to focus entirely on him.  Don’t make requests at this time.  You might begin by reciting the Lord’s prayer or saying short breath prayers, like, “You are my Lord.  I belong to you.”  Most of the time you will not feel or hear anything.  That’s OK.  The silence itself will relax and refresh you. 

After my time of contemplative prayer I like to begin worship and thanksgiving, usually on my knees with my hands raised in front of my study room window.  I follow this up with interceding for others and myself.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

God speaks to us in many different ways, and although I’ve seen him work in my life through the years, I have been craving to hear his voice, not realizing that all along he was trying to speak to me with words that were already waiting for me in the Scriptures.  The Word of God is a lot more powerful than just language written on paper.  His words spoke the world into existence and calmed the sea.  Whatever God promises, happens.  It has to.  The Bible is not just an ancient book for people way back then.  It can be used for every situation we face today.  It’s the same as him speaking to us right now!

“The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.”  Hebrews 4:12

Since I started praying the Scriptures and meditating in this way I have not failed to receive a teaching from the Lord every time I try it (and it’s usually not in my underlined verses!)  I’m looking forward to having many more bouts of “heartburn” from which I never want to be cured!


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Click here for the entire Get Close to God series

  1. karen says:

    What great insight. I am going to try to use the info to start a comtemplative bible study and prayer time of my own. In fact, I have decided to use another bible completely. One that I haven’t marked at all and is a different translation (New King James). This way I won’t get lazy and just read the verses that I highlighted years ago!

  2. […] There are many ways to do a quiet time but it basically boils down to reading scripture and prayer, which includes confession, praise, thanksgiving, and intercession for others and yourself as well as being still and listening to the Lord, consecrating your day to him.  For more specific suggestions on how to meditate and reflect on his Word, you can check out a previous article in this series: Do you get heartburn when you read your Bible? […]

  3. […] Through God’s Word: This is more than just finding something that applies to you from what God said thousands of years ago.  The Holy Spirit is ready to illumine the scriptures and show you specific truths you need to know.  Ask him to guide you before you start reading.  Have you tried contemplative prayer? […]

  4. Sterling says:

    Superb, what a web site it is! This website presents helpful data to us, keep it up.

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