My church has a wonderful Wednesday night program. This year we are reading a book called Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life by Marjorie J. Thompson. The first spiritual practice that she introduces is “Chewing on the Word of God” or how to read the Bible spiritually. As I read this paragraph, so much of it resonated with my own experience of Bible Journaling:
What makes our reading spiritual has as much to do with the intention, attitude, and manner we bring to the words as it does with the nature and content of those words. Spiritual reading is reflective and prayerful. It is concerned not with speed or volume but with depth and receptivity. That is because the purpose of spiritual reading is to open ourselves to how God may be speaking to us in and through any particular text.
Spiritual reading doesn’t simply inform: It shapes us as readers:
The term formation, then suggests being shaped ever more deeply according to the mind of Christ, who reveals and offers us to our full humanity. Spiritual reading has a formative intent. Through it we seek a living, transforming relationship with God-in-Christ.
I read this and thought “Yes! Yes! Yes!” People of often ask me regarding Bible Journaling: “What if I am not creative? What if I am not an artist?” My response is that Bible Journaling is not about producing a beautiful picture, but about entering more deeply into a relationship with God.
Marjorie Thompson introduced a more ancient, time-tested practice for slowing down and savoring the Word: Lectio Divinia. This is a four-fold process of slowly reading a passage often outloud in a quiet space (lectio), carrying the Word with you and tossing it in your brain (meditaio), offering prayer to God as it naturally flows from the Biblical text (oratorio), and being in quiet with God: “a place of rest…[with] no expectations, no demands, no need to know, no desire but to be in the divine presence” (contemplatio).
I practiced reading the prophecy of Zechariah found at the beginning of Luke in this way. I read the passage slowly about eight times, meditated on the Word, prayed, and sat in stillness until some of the Words just lifted off the pages and spoke to my heart. Bible Journaling became a way to record this special time with God. As these words spoke to my heart, they were a message of hope, encouraging me to carry on serving with no fear.