We had a great Lord’s Day together yesterday. Dave Payton taught our class and did a great job with John 14. I am very happy to have able men who can teach alongside me.
At the end of the lesson, Dave included some notes about a Bible reading strategy that is very old, called Divine Reading, or Lectio Divina. The traditional form of this reading has four steps (lection, meditatio, oratio, and contemplation), but you can also find it with the six steps that Dave presented on Sunday (adding silencio and incarnatio). I think the six steps contain helpful additions to the original four.
The four stages of reading were equated with taking a meal or feasting. A bite is taken (lectio, or simply reading the text). The bite is chewed (meditatio, or meditating on, thinking about the text), the flavor and aroma of the text is enjoyed (oratio, or the prayer offered back to God concerning the text), and then swallowed (contemplatio, or the taking of the text into one’s life and the transformation of the life that results).
The two added stages of reading are the beginning prayer (silencio) and finally the living out of the text in your life (incarnatio).
Dave gave some practical suggestions that I think are imperative to good Bible reading:
1. Choose a length of text that fits you. Do not read too little. Challenge yourself. But also, do not try to read so much that you lose the life-transforming aspect of the reading. In my own reading, I have large portions that I read daily, but I choose smaller sections to use for the Lectio Divina described above.
2. Have a plan. This cannot be stressed too much. Do not be haphazard in your reading. Do not simply read when you feel like it or read what you feel like reading. No matter how much or how little you read, be intentional about it. As Dave also says, make a plan for how you are going to read. Find a time and a place to read.
3. Have study helps available. Be ready to understand the difficulties you might find in the text.
4. Don’t be in a hurry. Haste is your enemy. Consider the analogy of the feast described above. Reading the Bible is not a trip to McDonald’s. Don’t treat it that way. Whether you are reading large or small passages, consider them as gourmet food and savor them that way.
5. Adapt this plan to your situation and be creative. Dave stressed that each of us has a unique life situation. There will not be one specific plan that fits every person and every lifestyle. Don’t use this as excuse to be lazy, or worst of all as an excuse not to read at all. Rather, look at your life and the consider the challenge of how best to shape your life around the reading of God’s word.
We have a break for two weeks from our Sunday Bible Study. Take this time to continue privately in the Word. Consider the coming of our Savior at this time. Think about the New Year coming. Take every opportunity to make changes in your life that would form you into the image of God’s son.