Helpful Hints Archives

NOTES ON PERSONAL STUDY, MEDITATION AND PRAYER

JILL PARKER

Introduction:  2Ti 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (NKJV).  I have heard this all my life.  Now in my quiet times, I would like to study personally and draw closer to God .  Let him speak to me and let me answer back.  Attention has been given to spiritual formation with emphasis on personal ways to study, contemplate and pray.  I would like to summarize what I have learned, particularly from Gary Holloway and Rhonda Lowry of Lipscomb University.

  • 1. Reading the Bible for the purpose of formation (change of heart, encountering God)

Ms. Lowry’s method considers these steps to approach:

a. HOOK yourself into the study of a passage and let go of everything else.

b. BOOK. Consider as a scientist the verses you have chosen to study (usually a short passage) today and analyze them; ask questions;  compare and contrast;  note key words;  find sequences. Write this all down in a study notebook.

c. LOOK at what the verse could mean (several possibilities in some cases) and write all the possibilities down.

d. TOOK.  What will I do about it? Write in complete sentences and consider time frame (when will I do it).

e. Questions to ask as a result of the study of a passage for yourself  or for your audience if you are teaching:

(i)                  What do I want to KNOW?

(ii)                What do I want to DO?

(iii)               What do I want to FEEL?

(iv)              What do I want to BE? The most important and formative

  • 2. Reflectively reading Scripture to let God Master us through it. (condensed from notes from Gary Holloway)

a. Listening.

Choose a biblical text that is not too long and purpose to hear God’s voice as you read. Get in a comfortable position and remain silent first to prepare your heart. Read slowly, savoring each phrase and asking God “What are you trying to tell me today?”

b. Meditation

Find and slowly repeat the phrase that seems to be for you today.  Think about it, memorize it and write it in a journal and reflect deeply on it. Think of personal responses, such as what you hear and see.

c. Prayer.

(i)                  Praying Scripture

This assumes that God is personally present in the words of the text through the working of the Holy Spirit and has something to communicate to us in our current circumstances. It is as though fresh bread were being broken for before us to sustain our hungry spirits. Prayer is our response to the Word and expresses a range of feelings, words and actions. We are using scriptures as our prayers as we find a favorite text that identifies with us. We let the word of God flow freely in and out of our mind as we talk to God and transform our life. A typical prayer might be in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. Prayers are a mixture of petition, praise, intercession, adoration and more.

(ii)                Praying over Scripture

Praying and studying Scripture go hand in hand and effectively occur together during a quiet time.  Benedict began “divine study” with a Bible reading that moved to a period of meditation on the passage read and then on to prayer prompted form the passage.  At times these may be indistinguishable.

d. Contemplation

Rest in the goodness and grace of God.  Contemplation is Sabbath rest—accepting whatever God is doing in us. Do whatever the Word calls you to do (accept God’s forgiveness, rejoice and so on). Take the Word of God with you for the day.

Suggested passages to begin:

  • Isaiah 30:15-22
  • Matthew 9:1-8
  • Mark 12:28-34; Mark 5:24-34
  • Luke 9:37-45
  • James 1:5-7
  • Psalm 1 or 23 or 51:1-3; 10-11 or 73:25-26

Words to the Wise

Powerful Partners! I interviewed a dear friend of mine who is an elder’s wife and asked her to give me some tips from her decades of experience as a leader’s wife.

1.  Don’t gossip or repeat anything your husband says.

2.  When someone asks you a pointed question, you might answer, “We’ll just have to wait and see.”  And just because someone asks you a question on any occasion does not mean that you have to answer it.

3.  Don’t try to get your way or ride your own “hobby horse,” trying to build up some of your personal ideas.  Keep those thought to yourself.  You can still make suggestions to some elders about your good ideas just like any other member.

4.  Try to promote harmony and peace.  Learn to stop or be neutral when controversial topics are brought up.

Thanks Evelyn!  Jill

Are You Disturbed?

Here is a really interesting prayer written by Sir Francis Drake in 1577, explorer and naval pioneer during the Elizabethan era

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

What do you think of that? Isn’t it inspiring?

Sir Francis Drake

How God Calls Us to Serve

When you think of the call of God to service, like me you probably think of Moses and the burning bush, Samuel near the tabernacle, Saul on the road to Damascus, or maybe even Esther to be queen of the Medo-Persian empire.  Add to that Abraham, David and Jeremiah for a knock-out list.

God calls us today for his service, perhaps in less dramatic ways, but we need to learn to recognize the call.  Here are the steps in the call:

1. God calls and affirms who he is.

2. He gives the call and articulates what he wants you to do.

3. The person denies their abilities. Then God often gets across the message that this is not about you. God is the one that is important, and He will show us the way and make up for our inadequacies.

4.  God affirms the call.

5.  The person accepts the call.

You might study 2 Chronicles 7:14.  He asks us to: humble ourselves, pray, seek his face and turn from our wicked ways.  God’s response is that he will hear you from heaven, he will forgive the sin and he will heal the land.  WOW!  We might wake up and see what is really possible when it is God’s call to YOU. What will your answer be?  Here I am; use me.

I got this idea from a talk by First Lady of Lipscomb, Rhonda Lowry