I have a strange problem. As much as I love God’s Word and as important as I know it is for me in my daily life (and as much as I talk and write about that), I have struggled with my daily quiet time with God.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been deep in the Bible for almost thirty years, daily editing notes or articles or devotionals for various types of study and devotional Bibles. I have read it in its entirety over and over and over. So when I want to have a quiet time, I don’t know where to start without feeling like I’m on the clock and editing. When I try various devotional books thinking I’ll get some new insights, I’m frankly bored by them.
Maybe you’ve been a Christian for a long time. Maybe you, like me, are trying to find a way to come to Scripture with fresh eyes and open heart without feeling the same-old same-old that too often blinds us.
Then I have a treat for you, something I just discovered that I want to share.
It’s called “Scripture Engagement,” and it’s over at the BibleGateway website in a section created by the Christian Educational Ministries faculty and students at Taylor University.
As I learned more about these many types of Scripture engagement, I discovered some new ways to “engage” with God’s Word. The link for Scripture Engagement gives an overview of 14 types of Scripture engagement techniques, and then sublinks guide you to various helps and videos that show you how to incorporate that new kind of Scripture engagement into your own quiet time. Many of them are good for individual study; some will work with group study.
I am starting with the Scripture engagement practice of “Journaling Scripture.” I watched the accompanying video, taking notes in my new notebook where I want to capture my thoughts as I experiment with these various types of engagement. I read all the tips and helps; I wrote down the questions and thoughts where I should focus. Basically, Journaling Scripture means to read a passage and begin by asking God, “What do you have for me today?” Then write:
- verses that stand out
- questions that arise
- truths to hold onto
- personal action steps
- praises, prayers, confession
It’s a time to listen to God speak to me through His Word and a time for me to write what I sense God is saying to me.
I’m a student at heart, and so I really want to study the passage for a bit more depth. So when I read the passage for the day, I also read the study notes in both my Life Application Study Bible and my brand-new Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. Reading these helps me keep that “wow” factor alive as I learn something new or relearn something I forgot. Then I begin the process of journaling, sitting quietly, and seeking God. As the pages in my journal slowly fill with my handwritten thoughts, I get a sense of God and I engaging together.
To get into the Christmas spirit in our decidedly un-Christmasy situation, I read Luke 2 and Matthew 1. I studied about Bethlehem (where Rachel is buried, Gen. 35:19; the story in the book of Ruth takes place; David was anointed, 1 Sam. 16; Micah prophesied as Jesus’ birthplace, Micah 5:2). I read the notes. I thought about Mary and Joseph basically putting their reputations on the line for their entire lives by their willingness to obey God’s call. I imagined the long trip to Bethlehem. I asked God,
- “Why do you seem to do everything the hard way?”
- “Why does obedience so often lead to difficulty?”
And those questions led me to much introspection about God’s working in my own life. Several pages’ worth, actually.
I encourage you to try Journaling as a method of Scripture engagement. And stay with me as I experiment with this and a few others in the weeks to come.
Like me, you might find a brand new way to listen to God.