When I was Asked About Bible Study & Meditation
Tola’s Thoughts On Faith & Life
I get questions now and again from my email list. Sometimes, I get such a good question that the response more or less reads like a blog post.
I got one of those questions on Monday. After responding, I figured I should share it.
Perhaps you might catch a thing or two from it.
Awesome stuff as usual.
Would you care to share tips on Bible Study and Meditation?
I seem to be having a good time with prayers, I could fast a lot more now and I see some spiritual gifts manifest in more powerful dimensions but I seem to have a struggle with bible study especially in the area of getting revelations from passages I study and being able to meditate on them. I get particularly ‘worried” when someone talks about a place I have probably just read in the bible (from my bible study plan) and they discuss it in such a way that makes it seem I didn’t read it at all. At a time, I was reading bible commentaries alongside the passages (Enduring word commentaries) but it takes a very long time and this could extend my quiet time to about two and half hours sometimes. Now, I try to use different translations of the bible.
Do you care to share tips around this?
And Now Comes my Response
Thanks, as always for reading the stuff I send and also writing back
Big ups to you on that.
Regarding the questions you raised on Bible Study and Meditation, I’d prefer not to be prescriptive. I’ll talk about what I do. (warning: long email below)
About Bible Study.
I personally adopt a simple approach to my personal bible study. My personal bible study is guided by my answers to these questions:
1.Why do I want to study the Bible?Since I am not under obligation to come up with a sermon every other day from the Bible because my job requires it, I am free to come up with a reason that works for me.
My reason is quite simple – I want to understand how God thinks from reading the bible. I figured if Moses could do it, I should be able to do it (Psalm 103:7). My ability to think like God will enable me to influence situations as God would.
2.How do I want to study the Bible?My reason is clear so it makes it easier to come up with my “how”. To understand the mind of God, I need to be able to understand the story of the Bible, the plan of the writer and how to apply all these to my everyday life. I have three approaches I adopt for reading my bible:
- Read through the Bible: I want to be able to see the consistent story that the bible tells through the viewpoint of different writers. That’s why I like to do a Genesis-to-Revelation read. I use the M’Cheyne Reading Plan. It may be a bit intense for some (read through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year), but I like the variety in the daily selection of bible reading. I read this every day.
- Book study: I want to be able to see how God intervenes in spite of the overarching human agenda during the time when the book of the bible was written. I want to grasp lessons for everyday living through this. I don’t do this every day. For this, I use the various tools – different versions, historical versions and any other references that would help me understand better. I do this on occasion – I cannot do this everyday
- Chapter study: Yes, sometimes I decide to do a study on just a chapter in a book just because my attention is called to it.
- Devotional study: I want to glean from the spiritual experience of another Christian how they understand and relate scripture to their everyday walk. Personally, the best devotional I have ever used was Every Day With Jesus (EDWJ) by late Selwyn Hughes. Selwyn literally “discipled” me in my early Christian walk through his writings.
I would like to be able to say that something mystical happens to me every time I read my bible – but nope that’s not my experience. Some days, I just read through the text without “feeling or sensing anything”.
But I don’t doubt the fact that day-by-day, my mind is learning to think more as God would think. We all could do with that as it would keep most of us from our daily panic attacks (Isaiah 28:16).
I discover this more and more when I face everyday situations. In those moments, my mind is able to put together different scriptures and come to a better way to act in these situations.
I believe the biggest benefit of scripture reading should be how it changes our mind so we think and act like God.
Whatever “revelation” you get during your study means nothing if it is not lived out in daily life.
The most important thing about bible study is reading the bible. Reading the bible is like rain falling on a muddy tarred road. As more rain falls, the mud gets washed away.
I recall listening to someone preaching in church. At a point, I was mulling in my head that he needs to take the point further than where he was stopping. I had it locked down in my head how he should go. I heard God speak to me – “the further” is my message, not his (the person speaking) message.
As a result, I have learnt to learn from other people’s depth of scripture and pursue my own. The more you stay, the deeper you get. For example, because I have read most of the Bible, I usually able to connect a current text to another text.
The wife of my spiritual director, a deeply spiritual woman also, talked about reading the book of Luke for a whole year!
It’s not speed we aim for – it’s the depth of God we aim for when we read scripture.
My go-to advice about it came from Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline. He defines Christian meditation as the ability to hear God’s voice and obey his word.
In meditation, yes, we detach ourselves from the noise around but we bring ourselves to rest more in God and attach our focus on one thing – GOD.
This is why it is important that we must have a focus for our meditation. the Psalms gives a good place to start. – Paraphrasing Ps 1:1&2 Blessed is the one..who meditates on his law day and night
But let me tell you how I practice meditation. My preferred location is somewhere removed from the noise with trees and nature all around which is impossible most of the time.
My next best place is when I am trying to put my son to bed at night. You see we lie in bed with all lights off and just wait in the dark till he sleeps off.
The waiting time in the dark is an excellent detachment from everything around.
Next I try to focus on a scripture or a God thought and think through it with the sole purpose of knowing God more through it.
Occasionally during my working day, I take a quick break from my desk, go out to the balcony, stare out into the long horizon and do some scripture or God-thought focused meditation
Doing this helps me to deepen my relationship with God because it grows my understanding of who He is
I hope this helps
Hola back if you want me to clarify anything I have written