I wish I could get people into their Bibles more. I believe that the Bible remains the most powerful and consistent way that God speaks to His people. Study after study has shown that Christians need to engage with their Bible more in order to grow spiritually.
I think part of the problem is that Bible reading today is either shallow or very academic. Shallow Bible reading simply asks how a person feels about the text and only serves to reinforce what a person already believes. Academic Bible reading involves lots of study intimidates many without a seminary degree. Neither necessarily leads to a closer relationship with God.
A couple of months ago I was asked to review a book called Love Your Bible by Gary Neal Hansen. I did not think that a book so small could pack so much punch! This book was a simple and fast-moving read that challenged the status quo of reading your Bible.
Gary Neal Hansen manages in 50 pages to blaze a new trail for Bible reading past shallow or academic readings. He does so by following an unexpected course—the work of a 12th Century monk named Guigo II. Hansen follows Guigo II’s model of lectio divina based on a 4 rung ladder. The rungs of the ladder are READING, MEDITATING, PRAYING, and CONTEMPLATING. Hansen takes the reader through these steps with understandable descriptions and examples. Here they are briefly:
- READING- The first step is to read the text several times but slowly and with an eye for particular phrases or details.
- MEDITATING- This is not empty reflection on clearing your mind. Hansen used the metaphor of a cow chewing its cud to describe this process of thinking deeply about the text. You repeat the text or continually think about particular details. You chew on it.
- PRAYING- Instead of praying after the scripture, Guigo II suggests that we pray out of the scripture. In other words, use the text to guide the themes and language of your prayer. Prayer is how you get the flavor out of the text.
- CONTEMPLATING- This last step is moving beyond meditating on the text and into contemplating the God you are experiencing in the process.
The most potent part of the book is not the process itself. It is the goal of the process. Learning to love your Bible as a means to draw closer to God. Hansen challenges readers for a lifetime of biblical engagement—not for knowing about the Bible but for encountering God in fresh, new, and unending ways.
Love your Bible is a great tool for people that want to start engaging their Bible and don’t know where to start. It is also a great tool for pastors to help others in this process. It is a great resource for individuals or small groups. I highly recommend it.