This coming week I invite you to be deliberate in carving out time to pray the Scriptures. We don’t need to know the Bible backwards to do this — so all of us can give it a go.
First we carve out a quiet moment of solitude — acknowledging our desire to connect with God through the Scriptures. After an initial prayer for openness to God “who is at work in you” (Phil. 2:13), we read a passage from the Gospels, perhaps the Gospel lesson from the Lectionary readings (see next week’s Scripture readings — Esther 7: 1-6; 9-10; 9: 20-22; Psalm 124; James 5: 13-20; Mark 9: 38-50).
Then, as Wendy Miller suggests: Read the passage slowly, lingering over the phrases and words, as you would enjoy and linger over a good meal. As a word or a sentence catches your attention (even slightly), pause and stay with those words.
Meditate/reflect on the word or phrase; turning it over in your mind and heart. Listen deeply to the meaning, allowing the word to enter all the rooms of your life. Respond to God in prayer about what you are discovering as God uses the word from Scripture to read your life. Be still, and rest in the spacious and gracious presence of God. Following the times when you embark on this inner journey, you may want to pause and notice how the journey was for you: How has God’s presence surprised you through praying the Scripture? What feelings or attitudes did you carry with you as you began? What change in feeling/attitude has occurred in you? Where is this shift taking you? In what way are you more aware of what is within your heart? Gently remember, that God invites us to turn to him with all of our heart.
Fast and Pray
The Presiding Bishop, Rev. Zipho Siwe has called on the Methodist Church of Southern Africa to fast and pray during September to “push the frontiers of evil back, especially in the area of education” and violence in our land. There are many different ways to fast. Here are some options for us to consider. With each option we would have to decide how long we would implement the fast for — a day or month.
• A complete fast, going without food and drink
• A liquid fast
• A fruit-only fast, or raw food only
• A sunrise to sunset fast
• A one-meal-a-day-fast
• A fast from certain foods and drink.
Substitute the time for eating with a time for prayer as well as an extra generosity in sharing with others.