The moms group I’m a part of has “Freestyle Fridays” every other week, which means we have childcare but no formal meeting. Moms can drop their kids off and run errands, have breakfast with friends, exercise, or anything else a couple of uninterrupted hours affords. (FREEDOM!)
The past semester, I began leading a Bible study on those weeks focused on this years’ MOPS theme: A Fierce Flourishing. As I prayed through what flourishing looked like, I kept coming back to the idea that it requires deep, healthy roots. As I’ve repeatedly mentioned here, I see basic practices (prayer, Bible study, community) as the most helpful for cultivating those roots. The problem for many of us is that we can get stuck in a rut and those practices become rote and stale. Each of these Flourishing Friday studies was designed to help give us another way to read scripture or pray so that the power of God’s word might hit us in a fresh way.
Every meeting, we’d look at scripture and engage with it through different spiritual practices. None of the practices were new to me, but I was continually surprised by how refreshing they were in my personal spiritual walk. With that in mind, I wanted to share those exercises here so that you might also be encouraged, refreshed, challenged, and/or otherwise engaged in what God wants to say to you through his word so that you, too, might flourish.
The first week, we did a practice called Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading. The purpose of Lectio Divina is to slow down and prayerfully chew on a passage so that the Holy Spirit might illuminate things you need to see in the Bible. It forces us to really ask God what he has to say through a perticular passage. In slowing down, I have often found that things I didn’t expect to that jump out at me. I find that God’s word has something to say to me that I didn’t see on the first go round. I also find that it allows the Bible to read me, to search my heart condition, so that I might avail myself to the deeper work Jesus longs to do in certain areas of my life.
The practice is fairly simple:
- Set aside time & a quiet place. This is the hardest part for most of us, since time is such a limited commodity. Lectio Divina requires us to be unhurried and undistracted. When I’ve done this in groups, we generally have 30-45 minutes to complete the practice. So really, just skip one TV show and you’ll have enough time. The “quiet” place just means a place where you can be undistracted.
- Read through your chosen passage of scripture out loud. [Note: The out loud part matters because it engages you in a different way and helps focus on the passage. Plus, scripture was meant to be read out loud when most people neither had a copy of God’s word nor knew how to read.]
- When you’ve finished reading, pause. Seriously, give yourself a few minutes to be quiet before the text and simply let what you’ve just read sink in. Ask God to speak to you through the passage. Make notes of any particular words or phrases that come to mind during this pause.
- Repeat steps 2 & 3 at least 3 more times, continuing to make notes of what comes to mind.
- When you’ve completed at least 4 cycles, take a moment to look back over the things you highlighted and noted. Prayerfully ask God why those things came to mind. Linger on those things.
- Finally, write a prayer of response to what God has revealed. Depending on what God was revealing to you through his word, it could be a confession, a request, a prayer of gratitude or praise. You don’t have to write it, but I find it helpful to put pen on paper. Plus, it comes in handy when you look back (but I’ll get to that in a few entries).
Now, you try it. Carve out the time this week. In my group, we read through Psalm 1, which I highly recommend for this practice. May you allow God’s word to speak to you so that it might work in you to grow your roots ever deeper.