Conversation – the informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.
My best friend and I have regular conversations. She talks, I listen, then I talk and she listens, pretty typical right? But have you ever had a “one-sided” conversation? A “one-sided” conversation occurs when the other person does all the talking and you do all the listening, or maybe you are one doing all the talking and if you are, snap out of it!
A “one-sided” conversation is really a monologue. How do you feel when you walk away from the monologist? I can tell you I feel frustrated and very reluctant to repeat that experience. Maybe you did try to make some comments but the talker apparently does not need to breathe regularly because he/she just kept on talking and talking…
Reading the Bible relationally is talking and listening to God as He speaks through His written words, it is a conversation with the King – it is that simple.
Since the Bible is God speaking to His people it is to be taken very personally. I picture Jesus sitting in my living room, waiting to talk with me, He is the living Word. He has much to tell me and He wants to hear what I think, what I want and need, and my concerns. Jesus wants to have a conversation with me – wow!
How I Read Relationally
Each day, I sit with Jesus and my Bible, my notebook and my coffee. I begin reading from the point where I ended the day before. I read until God nudges me to stop. I might read a single word, one or two sentences (verses) or an entire chapter, it varies. Sometimes, I talk to God about what I just read, sometimes I listen; God and I converse with and about these verses. I may read and pause over and over again, each time with God and His Word is different.
When I don’t understand the verses I ask Him to teach me, to help me. Parts of the Bible are difficult, I don’t let that stop me, I just keep reading, God will help me understand what I need, I may make a note to do some research later on the difficult sections. Some verses are warnings, “Don’t do this!” Some verses are rebukes, “Look what you did!” A rebuke makes me pause to confess, asking God to forgive me. Always, always, I learn something about God, something I can thank Him and praise Him for, about His character.
As God and I talk together, I am taking notes. I want to remember what I learn and also because, for me, taking notes helps me see connections, helps me clarify my thoughts. I do recommend making some notes. I always write down two specific things:
- What I learn about God, and
- How will I apply this to my life – this is my “take away” or personal application.
Often, what I write ends up in this blog or is used to encourage or teach someone else, God’s Word is never wasted.
God and I are simply talking and if you overheard our conversation you would say, “Oh, you’re praying!” You got it. I read and then I pray about what I just read, using many of the same words and then wait till God answers or tells me to read some more.
Here is a very quick example from Psalm 27, verse 1. God’s Word is in italics.
- The Lord is my light and salvation – Oh God, I am so grateful for your light that leads me and for the gift of salvation – thank you!
- Whom shall I fear? – I am sorry I don’t always trust you, I worry about things. Help me not to let fear stop me.
- The Lord is the defense of my life – You, God are my true defender. I am safe only always with you.
- Whom shall I dread? – I don’t have to worry what people think or say about me because you love me!
- What I learned about God. God is light, He protects and defends me from everything and everyone!
- What is my take away? God does not want me to worry or be afraid and when I am I can call on Him for strength and courage. He will be my light when I am in the dark places! He will show up! (Your take away may be different, remember it is personal application!)
I have been reading the Bible for years yet I have barely uncovered its rich treasure. Reading relationally is drawing me closer to God than I have ever been, it is the most peaceful and productive part of my day. My plan is to read the entire Bible relationally and then start over, I am nearly halfway there.
How did my best friend become my best friend? How did I get to know her? We had many long conversations. My goal is to know the God of the Bible and that happens as we have many long conversations.
Try reading the Bible relationally – if you have never done it, it takes a bit of practice. Pick a favorite part of the Bible and have a conversation with God about it. Please let me know what God shows you!
What to know more? – Part 3 coming soon!