How do we get the most from what God is trying to say to us through his Word? Here’s a way that helps us be not just hearers of the Word, but people who do what it says (James 1:22). We hear God as we read. This is vital. The problem is that too often we stop at the reading part. It is vital to take time to reflect on what we read. But we can’t stop there either. As we reflect, we are also asking God what he wants us to do. We ask “How are we to obediently respond to God’s Word?” Below are some ideas and guidelines to help you Read…Reflect…Respond to the Bible.
Suggestions for Reading God’s Word
God speaks to us through the those He inspired to write the Scripture. So, we read the Bible to hear what God has to say.
- Less is more. It is not necessary to read lots of text. Sometimes we read until we come to something that “really speaks to us” and we stop there to reflect.
- Repetition helps. It is amazing to read the same passage or verse over and over and over several days and continue to discover things we missed in the first or earlier reading.
- Various Perspectives. One way to enhance your reading is to read the text in various translations.
- Out Loud. It is sometimes helpful to read the Bible out loud or have someone else read it out loud. Some folks like to listen to the Word digitally spoken.
- Imagination. Take time to imagine what’s happening. Put yourself in the situation.
Suggestions for Reflecting on God’s Word
During our reflection time, we are asking a more personal question – “God, what are you saying to me, right now, at this time in my life?”
- Pray. While this seems obvious, we often don’t take time to simply ask God what he wants us to hear in the text we are reading. Talking to God completes the conversation of listening and responding.
- Quiet. It is hard to reflect if there are lots of distractions. Good reflection requires the right time, place and situation to really think, meditate, consider and hear more from God.
- Paraphrase. Write out your own paraphrase or your own “translation” of the text. Putting it in your own words helps you reflect on what God is saying.
- Journal. Put down your thoughts that come to you as you read God’s Word.
- Watch. Watch for ways that God will reinforce what he’s been saying to you in his Word. He’s speak to you through a conversation, podcast, a book or story or a circumstance.
- Questions. Questions are a key part of reflection. Don’t hesitate to ask God questions. They help us sort out what he’s saying to us personally.
- What are you saying to me in this reading?
- What do I need to hear?
- What command do I need to obey?
- Is there an example that I should follow?
- Has a sin been identified that I need to address?
- Is there a promise here that changes how I view my life?
- How am I to view God in a different way?
Suggestions for Responding to God’s Word
It is vital that we not just hear God and reflect on what he’s saying to us. We must respond to God in some way. We can’t just hear the Word, we have to do what it says (James 1:22).
- Write it out. Writing out what we will do helps us clarify our next steps.
- Plan. Have a plan! Go beyond saying “I need to do such and such.” The plan might be simple or just a “next step,” but it requires that you think through what you’ll actually do to respond to God.
- Next Steps. Sometimes the best response is the next step which might not be the final step. The next step might be to pray, or have a conversation with someone or make a preliminary decision.
- Tell Someone. There is amazing power when we verbalize a commitment to do something. Telling someone is an invitation to someone to help you fulfill what you want to do. Sharing your response with a family member, friend or life group can also help you avoid the danger of having missed God’s direction.
- Identify the Response. What kind of response is God asking of you? Is God asking for a change in attitude, belief or action? Is he asking you to surrender something? Is God encouraging you to make a decision? Is it about a relationship? Does he want you to make something right or do good? Finally, often the most appropriate response to what we’ve read and reflected on is worship of God for his character and goodness.
- Confess. Often the early response is to confess our sin to God and/or others. Confession is vital in moving forward to spiritual wholeness.