Reading to Hear God
When God gave us the ability to imagine, He expected us to use it in our relationship with Him. So He is pleased when we read His Word letting our imagination help us see beyond what the words say.
If the passage is a narrative involving people, it may help to imagine the setting of the story and to envision ourselves in it. Who can we identify with? For instance, if we read about Mary Magdalene's washing Jesus' feet, we consider, "How would I be feeling if I were expressing my love to Jesus by washing His feet as she did? How can I experience that same passionate devotion? Would I have been willing to kneel at His feet while those nearby were scoffing?"
Madame Guyon suggests: "If you read quickly, it will benefit you little. You will be like a bee that merely skims the surface of a flower. Instead, in this new way of reading with prayer, you must become as the bee who penetrates into the depths of the flower. You plunge deeply within to remove its deepest nectar."
Dallas Willard compared our carefully observing the Word with smelling the roses. "To enjoy the rose it is necessary to focus on it and bring the rose as fully before our senses and mind as possible. To smell a rose, you must get close and you must linger. When we do so, we delight in it. We love it."
We read slowly as though we are seeking to sense the heart of what God is saying. We declare with the psalmist, "I will listen to what God the Lord will say" (Psalm 85:8). In his Preface to Sermons, John Wesley described his Bible reading: "Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone: only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his Book; for this end, to find the way to Heaven."
Dear Jesus, help me to remember I am in Your presence when I come to hear You speak through the scripture.
"Pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words...for they are life to those who find them" (Proverbs 4:20, 22).