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

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