The he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. Ezekiel 3:3 (NIV)
I have discovered that I am a nerd. Like Ezekiel, I feel compelled to eat the scroll, the scripture. At times I devour it like a meal eaten too fast. Other times, I do a slow careful read. I love to ponder what the first hearers of the word thoughts. I love to understand the context of the time. I have many commentaries on my bookshelves to help me. They are like cookbooks that further define the ingredients of the sumptuous feast before me. I see studying the word of God as a feast with many courses or a multi-faceted diamond that to be appreciated must be viewed from every angle.
This weekend I was told by my former New Testament professor, someone I highly respect, that the reason I struggled in the EdD program was that I was capable of much deeper theological thought and I wasn't getting this in that program. That's true and quite a compliment. He also told me he thought I was at least a decade younger than I am - woo-hoo!
That said, it was with some conviction that I read Andrea's comment yesterday about studying ABOUT the Bible but not reading it. I can fall into that trap very easily. When scholarly Biblical study becomes your discipline and academic pursuit, devotional reading can get neglected. After all, you have your nose in the Bible all the time. The two however, are not the same.
So what do I do? Right now I am doing devotional reading with YouVersion on my iPhone or iPad. If you aren't familiar with YouVersion which can also be used on your computer, I have a tutorial I prepared for a class that you can view here.
In my younger life I used the ABC method I learned in HiBA:
A - a title
B - best verse
C - confession/commitment
Not a bad method - there are other variations of this one available online, like this one available here.
My preferred way of bringing myself back to devotional reading of the scripture is the ancient practice of Lectio Divina. This method does not treat the scriptures as texts to be studied but as the living word of God.
Lectio - reading/hearing
I like to read the text aloud - faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God - HEAR O Israel, etc., I read slowly so I can consume each morsel of the fine feast in front of me. I listen for god to speak directly to me from His word - to nourish my soul with sweetness as honey would my mouth.
Meditatio - meditation
Once the Word has been heard by not just my ears but my heart, I meditate on what it means to me. It is hard for me to still the voices that wonder and clamor for my brain to be filled - but this time is for my heart. It is the time I focus on what "I" hear - what does this mean to ME, TODAY, in the hear and now of the world I live in.
Oratio - prayer
This is not my laundry list prayer time. This is not the time for petitions. This is a prayer of consecration. This is a prayer time of deep communion and submission to the things I have heard from God as He spoke to me.
Contemplatio - contemplation
In some circles, you would call this "soaking." This is the time to just relax in the presence of God. This is the time to drink the experience of precious time with the Lord. This is when the thinking stops. This is when you get off the hamster wheel of striving and just be. It is a time of transition from the holy sacred time you have just experienced so that you can return to "ordinary" time refreshed and fed.