The following is a practice that may be helpful in your personal reading of Holy Scripture. It is based on Martin Luther's marks of a theologian - prayer, meditation, and testing/temptation.
_ Prayer (Oratio): We approach Scripture trusting the guidance of the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s true and faithful Word. Scripture is no more than a printed document or piece of literature unless God’s Spirit brings its meaning to life. Martin Luther says that before you even begin to read the Bible, you must “despair of your own mind and reason.” You are not reading Scripture like the tax code, simply searching for the right piece of information. You are reading Scripture to know God.
“O Lord, enlighten me. Guide me. Give me understanding according to your Word. Teach me. Show me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
“O God, let your Word take hold of me. Speak yourself to me. Stir up my heart, that I may produce fruit that will last. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.”
“O Lord, let me stand before you. You are my beginning, middle, and end. Lead me by your Spirit. Help me. Be my strength. Gather my thoughts, O Lord, and keep me from wandering and weariness. Amen.”
Meditation (Meditatio): Meditation is more than study. In meditation, we “read, mark, and inwardly digest the Word of God.” It has been said that we must “bathe in God’s Word.” After prayer, this requires reading, rereading, thinking on, and praying the Scriptures. St. Luke writes of Jesus’ mother Mary that she, “Kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Mary in Luke 9:39: “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened” while “Martha was distracted with much serving.” So sit, listen, read, write, speak, and sing Scripture as a means of digesting the Word.
Temptation/Trial (Tentatio): The Word of God is not fully understood until it is lived. When God’s Word has worked on you, it will invariably find confrontation and conflict in life. Luther says, “You suffer and are tempted by reason of the very fact that you meditate on God’s Word. The devil will afflict you and make you a real doctor of theology and teach you to cling to God’s Word.” In the pummeling, pressing, and terrifying nature of trial, we are driven to God’s side in faithful trust.
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