What Does It Mean to Read God’s Word for Transformation?
Take Good Care: Part 3
Reading God’s Word for transformation is a key component of spiritual self-care. In my last blog post I discussed reading God’s Word for information—for truth, God’s ways, will, and principles— and how that engages our minds.
We can also read God’s Word for transformation, and this engages our hearts.
I’ve been learning about this the past few years by reading and rereading the book Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. Reading God’s Word for transformation is a contemplative and reflective approach to Scripture, a practice I’m loving and think you will too!
Engaging our Hearts
Transformation takes place as we trust God with our hearts, longings, and deepest needs. We trust Him to see us and to help us to become more like Him.
I’ve adapted these four steps from the book Sacred Rhythms as a guide to engaging with God’s Word for transformation.
When coming to God’s Word for transformation, begin with a prayer of release or surrender. After all, change is not always easy. Allowing God’s Word to transform us means laying down my rights, my pride, my control, and my entitlement to be anything other than who God wants me to be.
You might want to pray this:
Lord, I want to see You and to be changed by You. I lay down my rights, plans, control, and manipulation. I invite your transforming work in my life. Amen.
Read a small section of Scripture, at most 5-6 verses is my recommendation, but often I choose only a couple verses. Then you might want to look the verses up in different translations. One easy way to do that is to use biblegateway.com.
I like to go through a book of the Bible sequentially or choose a topic and go through related verses. You want to read slowly and reflectively.
Now ask reflective questions to reveal your heart and God’s.
1 – Where does this truth speak into my life? What part of my life needs to hear this?
2 – Which word or words stand out?
3 – What emotion does it connect with? Delight, thankfulness, tears, joy?
4 – Do I feel any negative emotions? Any resistance? Or is there something hard for me to embrace? (Don’t judge; just notice!)
5 – If I imagine God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit right here with me saying this to me, how do I respond?
Consider these responses:
Supplication (prayers for others and self)
Example of Using the Four Steps for Transformation
Here’s an example of how to use these questions:
Psalm 139: 13-14 in the Voice:
“For You shaped me, inside and out.
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.
I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.
You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;
Your works are wonderful.”
My reflection questions and answers:
Which word or words stand out to me?
“You shaped me inside and out.” These words make me think of God’s incredible attention to detail in creating each of us as such unique individuals. I remember learning these words in my early walk as a Christian. In those days I didn’t have a lot of self-love, I was hard on myself and so self-critical, thinking I was never enough. This psalm helped change my thinking about myself and helped me to accept God’s love.
Where does this truth speak into my life? What part of my life needs to hear this?
Then the words “You knitted me together in my mother’s womb” stopped me, and I felt tears rise up.
You see, I am an identical twin. So my mother’s womb included me and my twin. But I have been estranged from my twin for over ten years.
What emotion does it connect with?
At first gladness thinking of God’s attention to detail.
Do I feel any negative emotions? Any resistance? Or is there something hard for me to embrace? (Don’t judge; just notice!)
But then such deep, deep sadness, thinking about my twin sister. It’s been such a journey with God, offering this relationship to Him and trusting Him with it.
If I imagine God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit right here with me saying this to me, how do I respond?
I imagine Jesus saying, “I know this situation, I see it. Go ahead and be sad. Go ahead and grieve. I haven’t forgotten this situation.”
And I imagine Him saying, “I know her and I am taking care of her. “
Lord, thank you that You have changed my heart, giving me Your heart for my twin. No longer bitter or unforgiving, I simply wish her well. I’m not sure what the future holds for the two of us, but I am now okay with that because I have been on a journey of trusting You with this relationship for over ten years. I trust that You know what needs to happen. Let me be open and obedient to Your leading. Amen.
Why don’t you copy these reflective questions into your journal, and use them, or some of them, in your quiet time?
Do you have any other questions you’d suggest?
Thanks for being here, sweet friends.