Five Ways to Read Scripture During Holy Week
In Sunday’s sermon I encouraged us to commit to reading Scripture during Holy Week. I recommended two possible plans: (1) read one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) this week, and/or (2) read the daily readings from the Revised Common Lectionary.
Whichever reading plan you choose to follow this week, here are five practices that can greatly impact the way we read the bible:
1. Spend one minute in silence before and after you read Scripture
Athletes warm up before they compete. Musicians tune instruments before they perform. Likewise, one minute of silence before and after reading Scripture helps us to receive the words of Scripture and to hear God’s Spirit speak to us.
Sometimes I will set a timer. This encourages me to be patient and wait until the time is up. It’s amazing how long (or short!) a minute can feel sometimes. During this time in silence I will listen for God’s Spirit.
2. Read slowly
We can miss out on so much when we rush our way through the bible. Reading slowly can help a scene in the bible become more vivid. It can help us focus on words or phrases that will speak to our hearts. There are different ways to slow down. Sometimes I like to take a deep breath after each verse or read a passage twice. A person might close her eyes in order to picture what is being described. Another person might read out loud. The idea here is for us to take our time with the words of the bible like someone might take their time on a walk with a friend.
3. Read from different translations
I enjoy reading from a variety of translations of the bible. When I prepare for sermons or bible studies, I try to read a passage in three or four different translations. This allows me to hear the words of Scripture in fresh ways. Like viewing a diamond from different angles, reading different translations helps a person see the different ways that Scripture sparkles and reflects the light of God. With bible apps and online tools today it is easier than ever to read from any translation with a click.
4. Pay attention to your emotions as you read
What emotions are you experiencing as you read? Comfort? Anger? Confusion? Perhaps you feel hurried as you read. Maybe something is unsettling to you from your day or from the passage you are reading. Take notice of what is in your heart as you read. For me, this practice of paying attention to my emotions and my thoughts as I read Scripture has been eye opening. God has taught me so much about myself. God has shown me ways that I can grow, ways that I can be more obedient to Him. This practice helps me to engage more deeply with God and also to learn more about how God is working in my life.
5. Summarize what you read
Last Sunday in church I asked people to summarize Luke 19:28-44 (Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem) with a word or a phrase. The words and phrases that people came up with were powerful. One person used the word celebration. Another person chose the word noisy. Another used the phrase joy in the midst of sorrow. Not only does this practice of summarizing help us to understand Scripture, it also gives us a word or phrase to bring into our day.
May God fill your heart with grace and peace as you walk through Holy Week and into Easter.