~~~~~ For the word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12) ~~~~~
A peculiar thing happens to me when someone lobs a Bible verse at me and lectures me on how to live my life: I feel trampled upon. I feel controlled and belittled. But when I read Scripture by myself, on my own, and happen upon some life-changing verse — even if it’s something someone else could have pointed out — then that verse is impactful and life changing.
Perhaps this is my stubbornness, my sin nature. But I also believe it’s a testament to the power of the living Word. The Text itself has the power to change us when we encounter it ourselves. I think this is why Scripture readings in church, by themselves and without any commentary at all, can be so very powerful.
When I have an encounter with God Himself, He speaks to my heart and tells me what to do. God’s Word is just so much more effective when God Himself is speaking to me, and not some angry know-it-all. Now, I’m not anti-sermon. I love good preaching and teaching. I love learning information, and I love hearing Bible commentary. What I dislike is having Bible verses thrown at me without love.
The Bible is a living, breathing text, and we were designed to sit under it. To listen, to stay awhile, to be changed. It’s why I have to read it myself. It’s why I feel so much closer to God when I do. Even if I don’t see specific changes happening yet, God’s word is active under the surface of my heart and slowly, sometimes imperceptibly, changing my attitudes over time.
I used to think prayer and Bible reading were separate (yet conjoined) endeavors. But maybe Bible reading is just listening to God talk to us. And if prayer is actually a conversation with God instead of merely my supplications, then listening to Him is one half of prayer. Which means that maybe, reading the Bible is actually . . . praying.
Could that really be prayer? Isn’t prayer when we talk to God? But nothing is separated or segregated in our life with God. I can pray while I sing, and I can worship God without song, when I stand in awe of His creation. So it’s possible that prayer and Bible reading are the same thing sometimes.
Prayer as Bible reading seems so mundane. It’s not fireworks or anything fancy. But it isn’t mundane. It’s God intersecting with the world. It’s God changing my heart – which is actually pretty miraculous if you ask me.
I think sometimes we lose the wonder of a changed heart. But the truth is, when we spend time with God, our hardened hearts can change. This is nothing short of miraculous. This is the glory of the Word of God.