This is our first post in a series of advice column-style blogs entitled “Asking for a Friend.” For more information on the series and to submit your own questions, click here!
“I want advice on how to better engage with the word. I read it, but how do I engage with it? Do I pick a scripture and pray on it? Do I read it like history? Read a book and meditate on it? Should I be journaling when I read? Like what do I do with it?”
That’s a great question! First things first: reading it is the perfect place to start. To clarify, we at StoryHeights believe that the Bible is God’s word and ultimate authority for our lives. Hebrews 4:12 says,
The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Yet – let’s be honest – it doesn’t always feel that way, does it? Of course, we value it and *want* to want to read it, but without context, desire, and relationship, it can start to feel like an outdated book of rules and regulations that don’t fit in our day and age. On the other hand, there’s some people who do love the Bible but can’t seem to find time or energy to devote to it in the way that they want to. Here’s where I can hopefully help you out. While all the things you’ve mentioned are efficient and effective ways to read The Word, allow me to suggest some specifics tactics that may help revitalize that relationship (that was a lot of good alliteration)!
- Tactile Engagement
One of the best methods I’ve experienced for letting God’s word “transform my thinking,” as Romans 12:2 says, has been through tactile engagement. While every person is different, I’ve found that though tactile engagement (either physically writing out chunks of scripture and/or speaking every word out loud, multiple times), my brain slows down and is forced to focus on exactly what I’m doing – writing, copying, saying words aloud. If you struggle with reading the same paragraph 5 times without even remembering what you just read (been there), this might be for you.
One of my favorite pastimes is choosing a theme or promise or attribute of God that I want unwavering assurance in, Googling verses in the Bible that talk about that theme, promise, or attribute, and then physically writing out all of those scriptures. Now, you can do as little or as much as you need, but I usually devote at least 30 minutes to let things start to sink in. As a bonus, you now have a great rolodex of scripture and promises to look back on in times of need!
- Memorizing Scripture
Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” While you’re free to cover your body in scripture if you so desire (would definitely be a conversation starter), an easier way to go about this spiritual tattooing is through memorizing God’s word. The idea is that His word would become more than just a reference book to us – it would be the life-breath that we survive on. It’s truth and certainty are ready and waiting to be etched into the deepest parts of our soul, able to guide our every moment. If you’re new to the Bible or still finding your footing with Jesus, I would recommend this route.
Choose a scripture, or group of scriptures, that encourages your faith and reminds you of who God is. Maybe it’s a new scripture every week, or one chunk of scripture every month, but build some consistency. Begin etching His word into your heart until it becomes second nature. When the tough moments of life come – as well as the wonderful moments! – you’ll be able to recite His truth and promises without a second thought.
- Prayerful Reading
If you’re trying to up your prayer game (or aren’t sure how to really start your prayer game…), this is a great option. Choose a passage of scripture that you’d like to spend some time with – the Psalms are a great place to start if you’re unsure – and begin. Read over the text a few times until you begin to comprehend what’s happening. Then begin to engage in your prayer time, centering it around the text. This is different from just random prayers about life or events; during this time you are specifically using words and ideas from the scriptures you’ve just read to shape how you speak with God.
This could look like word-for-word reciting prayers from the Bible, or it could be taking the general idea of the passage, personalizing it, and focusing your praying around that. For example, if you’re reading a Psalm in which David cries out to God for help, use this time to remind yourself of your great need for God. Ask Him for help or for a greater understanding of how He has rescued you. Or let’s say you’re reading about the Israelites making their exit out of Egypt – pray for greater strength and obedience, a desire to follow God’s will wherever it may lead, and rejoice in the goodness of God’s saving grace over your life. Make sense? It’s nice! Go for it. God isn’t scared of clunky prayers.
- Get a Partner!
Last but certainly not least, a great way to engage with the Bible is by getting a partner and reading through it TOGETHER! It not only builds your engagement with the Word, but it strengthens your relationship with a brother or sister in Christ while also giving you some accountability. Choose a book of the Bible or a theme you’d like to dive into together and commit to meeting once a week to talk about it. Ask questions, share thoughts, and let the Bible guide the way. Sound familiar? A great way to get started with this is through Grow Groups! If you’re unable to join a Grow Group or they’re on a break – like in the summer – reach out to someone you know and like hanging out with! Friendship and the family of God is one of His greatest gifts to us. Conquer your fear of looking stupid or feeling vulnerable and commit to seeking more of what God has for you in His word.
There are a million ways to engage with the Bible, but I firmly stand by these four as great launching points. Try a few different options and find what works for you! 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” God longs to speak to you, put you together, and renew your life through His word and by His spirit. Make the first step towards Him today!
All my best,
Amateur Bible Reader and Enjoyer of Writing Things Out by Hand