ietrich Bonhoeffer observed, “In the Incarnation we learn of the love of God for His creation; and in the Crucifixion we learn of the judgment of God upon all flesh; and in the Resurrection we learn of God’s will for a new world” (Seize the Day).
God, at diverse times and in differ- ent epochs, spoke through the prophets; but in one most definitive way, He spoke through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). The Old Testament gives us bits and pieces of the puzzle revealing God, but in the New Testament we see God revealing Himself in one glorious picture.
So the Bible is not read the same way as other books. Bonhoeffer noted, “One must be prepared to really question it. Only then will it open itself up. Only when we await the final answer from the Bible will it be given to us” (Meditating on the Word).
We engage this living Book as if in a dialogue. The Bible is not so much meant to be “read” as to be “prayed.” Read it; then pray it. Pray it; and let it read you.
- 1. Read the Bible.
Read a bite-size section or short chapter in several versions. Who are the players, people, and places? What is said and done? Get a grasp on the main idea(s).
- 2. Reflect on the passage.
Mentally walk through the passage again with your Bible open. This is about your heart exploring the narrative. You are inside the passage, walking with the biblical writer. Ask yourself, What one verse, phrase, or one word captures my attention?
- 3. Reason and wrestle.
Let the Word come alive, whether you are in the “heavenly places” of Ephesians or in Psalm 23’s mountain pass; whether you and David are a few feet away from the towering Goliath, or you are on Patmos with John. What does this passage say to you at this moment on this day?
Dialogue with God in the context of the passage. Meditate. Listen with your heart. Pray. Use the Bible’s language and connect your situation to the narrative. Question—yes, question. Gasp! Stand in awe. Wonder! Ideas may explode in your heart. Light will come, not just about facts and actions, but motives and character.
- 4. Rest and listen.
Get still and quiet. Let God read you! Let Him talk. Don’t hide doubts or fears. Be authentic. Slow down the inner dialogue. God may lift a passage off its hinges and burn into your heart. The Scripture speaks—logos does become rhema.
Let the Holy Spirit speak. His words are consistent with Scripture. Quiet yourself to hear His voice. Is there an attitude or action to be changed? A promise to be claimed? A blessing to be received?
- 5. Renew and become.
Christianity is not merely a matter of the will. It is not seeing a biblical principle and by volition applying it to our lives. It is not simply new information, but transformation by the Spirit. Let the Holy Spirit renew your heart, giving the power to flesh out and live the Word of God.
This is the second “incarnation”— Christ in us, the hope of glory! Don’t just read the Word; pray it until the Word becomes alive in you.