“The purpose of knowing Scripture is not to help us get a 100 score on the heavenly entrance exam,” writes John Ortberg in his helpful book The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. “It is,” he suggests, “to help us become equipped for good works.”
Bottom line: We should not just read the Bible for information (though this is obviously necessary), but transformation. And according to Ortberg, a great way to do this is by reading Scripture meditatively.
Ortberg suggests 5 ways by which to read the Bible in meditation that helps lead to transformation. I find these quite helpful.
1. Ask God to Meet You in Scripture
Before you begin reading, take a moment to ask God to speak to you. Then as you read, anticipate that he will do so.
2. Read the Bible in a Repentant Spirit
Read the Bible with a readiness to surrender everything. Read it with a vulnerable heart. Read it wisely, but understand that reading for transformation is different from reading to find information or to prove a point. Resolve that you will be obedient to the Scriptures.
3. Meditate on a Fairly Brief Passage or Narrative
It is important to be familiar with all of the Bible. In times of study we will need to read broadly and cover a great deal of material. But in reading for transformation we have to go slowly.
Some churches give people the idea that the only way to transformation is knowledge. There is an assumption that as people’s knowledge of the Bible rises, their level of maturity rises with it.
The goal is not to get through the Scriptures. The goal is to get the Scriptures through us.
4. Take One Thought or Verse with You Through the Day
Mediation is as slow as the process by which the roots draw moisture from the flowing river to bring nurture and fruitfulness. Find time therefore, throughout the day to think on a specific verse. This can be while waiting at a stoplight, eating lunch, sitting in a waiting room, etc….
5. Allow This Though to Become Part of Your Memory
Memorizing Scripture is one of the most powerful means of transforming our minds. What matters however, is not how many words we memorize, but what happens to our minds as we immerse them in Scripture.
(I encourage you to purchase and read all of John Ortberg’s book The Life You’ve Always Wanted as I have found it very helpful.)