In C.S. Lewis’ fantastic Chronicles of Narnia, the description of the arrival of Spring—prompted by the approach of the great Aslan—always gives me a thrill. Peter, Susan and Lucy head out to find the King and their search is rewarded. The forces of evil that locked the land into never-ending Winter are no match for the life-giving, earth-awakening, beauty-creating power of truth, goodness and love. Narnia is transformed, not by the efforts of the three children, but by the will of Aslan.
We can experience a similar metamorphosis when we seek the Lord. We aren’t changed by our own initiative, but God’s power at work within us. Like partaking of the choicest foods, internalizing God’s Word changes us. In God’s kingdom the idiom holds true, “you are what you eat!”
Matthew 6:33 urges us to focus on God and God’s Kingdom, and then God will provide for our secondary needs. One chapter later, Jesus says: “For everyone who asks will receive, and anyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to those who knock” (7:8). When we desire God, we will receive more of God. One way we cultivate this desire is through feasting on God’s Word, which both satisfies our longing and keeps us hungering for more.
The Bible says much about the importance of drawing from its pages the nourishment we need each day (see, for instance, 1 Peter 2:2 and Hebrews 5:12-14). Every verse in Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, emphasizes the value of not just nibbling on but indulging in God’s Word.
Here are some tips to nourish ourselves with Scripture:
- Pray about it. Ask God to increase your appetite for Scripture. Try praying, “God, give me a hunger and thirst for your Word” (Matthew 5:6, Psalm 107:9).
- Have the right goal. Don’t read only to acquire knowledge of God’s Word or to get through Genesis to Revelation. Read to be in God’s presence. Pay attention to how you feel during and after, letting any positive changes prompt you to keep returning.
- Keep it simple. Resolving to read the entire Bible in six months isn’t realistic for most of us. But it is helpful to get in the habit of reading regularly. Try starting with reading for ten minutes a day and truly focusing on the text, gleaning a bite-sized nugget to meditate on throughout the day.
- Be consistent. Schedule your Bible reading before you schedule anything else. Reserve this time and protect it. It is just as important as any doctor’s appointment, work meeting, or coffee with a friend. It warrants telling people you are busy: this time slot is booked for good reason.
- Have a plan. Don’t wait until you pick up your Bible to try to figure out what you’re going to read. Decide ahead of time, and look forward to it! Get swept up in the story of the narrative or the language of the poems. Let yourself wonder what is coming next. You may want to pick a reading plan so that you can easily get into each day’s reading rhythm.
- Keep track. Maintaining a detailed journal isn’t for everyone, but even abbreviated notes recording what you read and insights you gained can help you focus. It can also help you recognize your inner transformations. What is growing and developing in you through your daily nourishment? Be encouraged.
- Go further. Reading at a surface level is easy, but not very rewarding. Challenge yourself to study the Bible (Joshua 1:8). Memorize verses and longer passages (Deuteronomy 11:18). Meditate on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2). Apply it in your life (James 1:22). Let yourself partake of the whole feast—don’t skimp on all the hearty food God has prepared for you.
In my mother tongue, Armenian, the word for Bible translates literally as “the breath of God.” I love this because it emphasizes that the words we read in Scripture are far more than just words. They are the thoughts and actions of God the Creator. And God’s thoughts are beyond our thoughts, making crops grow, providing food to eat, never failing to do what God planned for them (Isaiah 55:8-11). Through reading Scripture, God’s words correct and expand our thoughts. This change to our minds results in an inner transformation that only God could accomplish (Romans 12:2). When we read the Bible we can expect great things to happen.
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