A. W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Our worship of God comes from our understanding of who He is. And where does our understanding come from? From spending time absorbing what He has told us about Himself: absorbing Scripture. Absorbing—not merely reading. We need God’s Word inside us!
My favorite way to lead people in worship is to point them to the goodness of God’s Word. How can you can absorb God’s Word—how you can make it exciting, delightful, and engaging?
Let’s acknowledge that Scripture reading doesn’t always feel exciting. Sometimes it is a chore. Sometimes we feel we don’t have time. But consider: we have time for things we feel like doing. We have time for things that rejuvenate us, that we look forward to, that amaze and inspire us. So here is the key to consistent Scripture reading: find your own way to make reading a pure pleasure.
How? Make it active. You have to do something. Part of our trouble is that reading is not automatically a very engaging activity. We should not expect the words on the page to pop out and dance in front of our eyes simply because we opened the book and followed the words. But the words can dance—better, they can sing—if you bring some creativity to your Bible reading.
How? Here are my top three strategies:
1) Read Scripture aloud. Most of Scripture is narrative, or open letter, or poetry—written to be read aloud to a group. Sometimes when I silently read a poetic moment, such as Mary’s praise in Luke 1:46 or Paul’s praise in Romans 11:33, it seems unmoving. Then I try reading it aloud and I realize just how much emotion there is in the words. I hear the words as if they were spoken by a real person. It makes a difference. Scripture is meant to carry you through both a cognitive and an emotional experience. Reading aloud helps greatly.
2) Pray through Scripture. This is a huge bonus because it makes both your prayer time and your Scripture reading more engaging. Rather than praying just the same thing as you prayed yesterday, start by opening to a Psalm, and reading a line. Then, if possible, make that line your own. Pray it word-for-word to God, or adapt it slightly to fit your context. Follow it with a single sentence of your own to God. Then go to the next line in the Psalm and do the same. The book of Psalms is a treasury of divinely inspired prayers. It will not only guide you as you pray; it will teach you how to pray.
3) Take notes on Scripture. I recently completed a read-through of the whole Bible, highlighting as I went. Now I have a record of all the verses in the whole Bible that particularly stood out to me as I read through it. It could be a great resource for the future. But, just as important as the end product, was the process. I benefited from the activity itself. Compared to previous times I have read through the Bible, I was more active and engaged. I approached the text with a specific purpose. I said to myself, “I am going to choose some verses in this chapter that I would want to share with another person. If I had to pick the most important or compelling parts of this chapter, what would they be?” As I highlighted it, my mind stayed active. I had to look at each chapter as a whole. What is this chapter about? What is the flow? What is the build-up and what is the main idea? Since I was going to make a highlight, I had to be engaged, ready to make a choice.
These three practices have helped me at various times in my engagement. Remember the main goal: to absorb God’s Word. Don’t merely read it. Take it in and live in it. Any of these three options has the potential to turn your reading into more than a mere routine. Instead, it will become a meaningful project: something to do. And that will pull you back to Scripture day after day.
Apply yourself to the Word of the Lord. Let it take hold of your affections. Let it become your delight.