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When you read the Bible, are you shaken and stirred by what you read? That’s what it means to meditate on God’s Word. The original Hebrew word for “meditate” is hagah, which, surprisingly, means “to moan or growl.” It is pronounced “haw-gaw” (with the emphasis on the second syllable) and is thought to be an onomatopoetic term reflecting the sighing and low sounds a person makes while musing or pondering. Personally, I don’t typically moan or make “haw-gaw” sounds when I am in the depths of contemplating something, but I guess the ancients did.
The implication of hagah is that the reader is so moved by what they are taking in that he or she erupts in audible moaning. Does God’s Word move you to that extent? When you reflect and ponder the Scriptures, are you so taken by its wisdom, conviction, and authority that sighing is the natural release? That’s some serious hagah, my friends! I want God’s Word to move me and change me, but I must admit all too often I read it in a hurry without allowing it to affect me at all.
Meditating on God’s word should not only stir our hearts with the powerful truths and wisdom of the Bible, but it must also shake us up and move us to action. God told Joshua meditate on the Law day and night so he would “do everything written in it.” Similarly, James wrote that we are to not merely listen to the word, but do what it says. As we contemplate His Word, it should stir us to obedience. The Latin word for “obedience” is obaudire, which actually mans to listen with great attentiveness. Do you see how taking in God’s Word and obedience are completely linked together? God wants us to listen and to walk with Him.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, imprisoned during World War II for subversive activity against Hitler’s regime, wrote, “Daily, quiet reflection on the Word of God as it applies to me becomes for me a point of crystallization for everything that gives interior and exterior order to my life.” He continued, “Why do I meditate? Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me.”
Click Here to watch a short video with Karol sharing about Meditating on God’s Word.
Father, draw us to Your Word in a deeper, richer way. Let us not only learn it in our minds, but experience it in our hearts and live it out in our lives. May we live in constant communion with You and Your truth. Stir in our hearts the greatest truth of all, the fact that you love us with an unfailing love. Let us walk in your love all day long.
“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97).
This is an excerpt from, Becoming a Woman of the Word. Click here to find out more about this resource.
The following is an excerpt from Becoming a Woman of the Word.
Do you want to know how to pray more effectively? Silly question, right? Who doesn’t want to see their prayers answered? A Newsweek poll titled “Is God Listening?” showed that of those who do pray, 87 percent believed that God answers their prayers at least some of the time. We have all had times when we prayed for something and didn’t seem to get the answer that we were hoping for, making us question, did I pray the right way? Is God mad at me? Did He really hear me? Why does He answer some of my prayers and not others?
The Bible is our guidebook for prayer. In His Word we not only see powerful examples of answered prayer, but we also find the teachings of Jesus on how to pray effectively. In the Scriptures we discover God’s invitation to prayer and His desire for us to cast our cares on Him. We also learn some of the reasons why prayers may not be answered exactly how we had wished. We learn to view prayer from a heavenly perspective, not an earthly one. I find it humbling to think that Almighty God invites us to pray. He loves us and cares about the details of our lives. From Genesis to Revelation we find examples of God listening to His people and answering their prayers.
The apostle John wrote, “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” How do we know we are praying according to God’s will? His will is revealed in His Word, so if we are going to pray according to His will, we must pray according to His Word. Certainly we don’t find a listing of His will for every detail or every circumstance of our lives, yet the more we know of His Word, the more we come to understand His heart of love. We learn who He is and how He works. We want to approach God’s throne with confidence, and we can do that as we get to know His heart through His Word.
Honestly, I can look back at my life and thank the Lord for the prayers He didn’t answer exactly as I asked. Why does God answer some prayers and seemingly leave others unanswered? Because He loves us and sees things from an eternal perspective. Can we trust the God of love, the God who sees all things, the God who sees the beginning and the end? In His time and in His way, He is at work beyond what we can see. As the apostle Paul wrote, For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
How has prayer changed your life?
God has given each of us gifts and abilities to use to build up others and to glorify God. Romans 12 reminds us that we are to not only use our gifts with humility, but we are to use them with passion. Join us on Tuesday, January for lunch and Bible Study as we continue our study of Romans 12. I look forward to seeing you there! Click here for more info and to register.
As I mentioned in the video, my favorite plan for reading God’s Word is the One-Year Bible. You can find a One Year Bible at any bookstore or online store or you can get it as an e-book. It breaks the Bible down into dated, daily readings of an Old Testament passage, a New Testament Passage, a Psalm, and a Proverb. Some years I read the Bible through in a year, while other years I choose to read through the Old Testament in one year and the next year I read through the New Testament, along with Psalms and Proverbs. There is also the One Year Chronological Bible, which gives you daily readings in the order that they were written. Also, most Study Bibles include a plan to read the Bible through in a year.
Some Bible teachers suggest starting with the Gospel of John as a good introduction to who Jesus is and God’s redemptive plan. Author and pastor R.C. Sproul offers a pattern for people who have never read the Bible. He suggests the following:
The Old Testament overview:
- Genesis (the history of Creation, the fall, and God’s covenantal dealings with the patriarchs)
- Exodus (the history of Israel’s liberation and formation as a nation)
- Joshua (the history of the military conquest of the Promised Land)
- Judges (Israel’s transition from a tribal federation to a monarchy)
- 1 Samuel (Israel’s emerging monarchy under Saul and David)
- 2 Samuel (David’s reign)
- 1 Kings (Solomon and the divided kingdom)
- 2 Kings (the fall of Israel)
- Ezra (the Israelites’ return from exile)
- Nehemiah (the restoration of Jerusalem)
- Amos and Hosea (examples of minor prophets)
- Jeremiah (an example of a major prophet)
- Ecclesiastes (Wisdom Literature)
- Psalms and Proverbs (Hebrew poetry)
The New Testament overview:
- The Gospel of Luke (the life of Jesus)
- Acts (the early church)
- Ephesians (an introduction to the teaching of Paul)
- 1 Corinthians (life in the church)
- 1 Peter (an introduction to Peter)
- 1 Timothy (an introduction to the Pastoral Epistles)
- Hebrews (Christology)
- Romans (Paul’s theology)
Sproul adds, “By reading these books, a student can get a basic feel for and understanding of the scope of the Bible without getting bogged down in the more difficult sections. From there, he or she can fill in the gaps to complete the reading of the entire Bible.”(ligonier.org/blog/get-basic-overview-bible).\
Scripture Union is a ministry that offers tools to help both adults and children read, know, and love God’s Word. They offer an Essential 100 Challenge (E100) as a way to read through the essential passages in Scripture. The E100 Challenge is based on 100 carefully selected short Bible passages, 50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New. The plan helps you get the big picture of the Bible and also helps you keep up with your progress. They offer a little pocket-sized planner listing the scriptures to read and providing a punch card so you can chart your progress. This is a great plan to do as a family or with other individuals. You can get the E100 planner at www.E100challenge.com.
Another tremendous resource for reading the Bible is www.Bible.com (You Version) that offers a Bible app for your phone, iPod, tablet, or computer. You may already have their app, but did you know they offer reading plans as well? If you go to the “Plans” link on their menu, you will find a variety of ways to read the Bible. The cool thing is, the app keeps you informed on your progress and even gives you reminders if you are falling behind. You can choose a reading plan under the headings of Devotional, Topical, Partial Bible, Whole Bible, Youth, and Family, and You Version is constantly featuring new plans. The point is to find a plan that works for you. There are no perfect formulas for reading God’s Word; the important thing is simply to do it.