During the winter of 2016, we began to engage as a church with spiritual practices. Spiritual practices are different ways we can deliberately engage with God and open up ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit for transformation. We must be careful to make sure we don’t view these as spiritual performance but merely practices. We realise that there is nothing we can do by our own strength or ability to produce spiritual transformation in our lives, however we can put ourselves in postures where we are open to encountering God.
During the series we looked at four practices that we began to engage with, Silence & Solitude, Self-Knowledge & Awareness, Reading Scripture for Transformation and Discerning Prayer. We also had an introductory week and celebration Sunday at the end of the series. The sermon recordings can be found here.
One practice that was filled with a lot of practical material was Reading Scripture for Transformation so we have prepared a little resource page to help you have a go at this spiritual practice.
If you’re looking for further resources, two great books that we used through the series and recommend are: The Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster and Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
READING SCRIPTURE FOR TRANSFORMATION
This is a survey of some of the ways you can engage with the spiritual practice of reading scripture for transformation.
Start by getting yourself comfortable so you can be still and listen to the Lord. We have to have our attention focused on him when we do this. Start by praying words such as “here I am Lord, what do you want to show me?”
Then we open Scripture and engage with God’s Word. You can read anything between 1-8 verses, but try not to read too much more than that as we are seeking depth, not breadth in this spiritual practice.
Practical way of engaging with this
SOAP (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer)
Write down a verse, an observation that you’ve made about that verse, something about how you can apply what you’ve observed to your daily life and then pray about it.
Who are you, who am I
Ask yourself what the passage tells you about God. Ask two questions, what it says about who He is and what He does. Then do the same asking yourself how it speaks to who you are, and what you can do.
Read a short passage and ask what words God may want to highlight to you and meditate on those words. Or meditate on a single verse. Read just one verse and re-read it, reflect on it, think about it and re-read it again for ten or so minutes.
This is committing it to your mind which is part of your heart really. You are impressing scripture into your heart and character. Memory verses are not just for Sunday School.
Put yourself in the story
Let your imagination locate yourself in the scene of what you’re reading. Pretend that you are actually there. Picture who is standing where, what the scene looks like, what each character is thinking and what you feel, sense and think as you put yourself in the place of each character.
Put your name in the passage
Put your own name in the pronouns that stand for you especially in places where God is speaking to people or communities.
A five step process to help you really listen to the Word and engage with Scripture for transformation. Once you have prepared yourself, read the passage once through just like you usually would. Then read it a second time and reflect on what it is saying. After you have spent time reflecting, read it a third time and consider how you may respond to the words of Scripture. Then rest and relax.