In meditative reading, we approach the Bible expectantly, ready to meet Jesus there. He is the Word that we read, and we read to have his mind (Phil 2:5). Quality, not quantity is the goal. We intentionally slow down, reading manageable sizes several days or even weeks in a row, allowing the nutrients to soak deep into our hearts like a slow, steady rain. When we truly study scripture, scripture studies us for scripture is a double-edged sword, affirming and interrogating, slicing to the very core of our being (Heb 4:12-13). In the act of reading scripture we find that God is working to draw our story into his story, transporting us into his reality so that we may participate in his life on his terms. Below is an exercise for meditative reading.
Stage 1-Reading. Choose a section of scripture that is not too large. Before you read, engage in a moment of silence or prayer to quiet your heart and mind. As you read, engage the text in a gentle-paced, reflective, one bite at a time manner.
Stage 2-Reflection. After reading, meditate on a word, a phrase, or an idea that captures your attention. Repeat it or reflect on it again and again. Consider: What is God's message to you? How is God using this word, phrase, or idea to bless you, challenge you, or transform you?
Stage 3-Response. This is a time to allow prayer to naturally flow from the Spirit's leading during your time of reading and meditation.
Stage 4-Rest. Now is a time for rest, play, or Sabbath in God. During this time the only expectation is to enjoy the presence of God, receptive of whatever God desires to do with us. As you go through the day, let the message of the text ground you in the life and love of God.
Stage 5-Repeat. Revisit the same text every day for a week or longer. Allow it to soak in, to shape you, and become a part of you.