Yesterday, we briefly considered what it means to walk with God. We looked at a few unhelpful ways to relate to God and contrasted those with the way God wishes us to relate to him. He wishes us to walk with him, to live a life of meaningful communion with him.
But how, exactly, do we do that? Part of the problem with asking that question is the potential assumption that walking with God is nothing more than finding the right method. If we simply duplicate a particular method, we can be sure that we are walking with God. But while there are a number of tried-and-tested means to enable God’s people to walk with him, we must remember that those means are just that: means. Means should never be confused with the goal.
Having said that, means can be helpful. Over the next few days, therefore, I want to suggest a few means that might assist you in your walk with God. The first of these is that we should walk with God by walking with the Scriptures. Psalm 119 highlights this beautifully. It is worthwhile reading in its entirety.
One of the precious practices recaptured by the Protestant Reformers was the access that the ordinary believer has to God in the Scriptures. Many of the Reformers were violently opposed for translating the Bible into the language of the common people. The authorities in Rome insisted that the average church member must rely on the education of the priest to instruct him or her in Scripture. The ordinary believer had no place reading Scripture for him- or herself. The Reformers were passionate to counter this error.
It is important to realise that their desire was for the ordinary Christian to be able to access Scripture in their native language. They were not interested in creating scholars who could parse the original languages and technically dissect portions of Scripture. Their passion was to get the Scriptures in an easily accessible format to the average reader. This reflected something of the ancient ways. Before the printing press, ordinary Christians engaged with the Scriptures as they heard them read. These Christians did not give their time to technical analysis of the text but simply heard and obeyed the Scriptures.
There is a place of in-depth, technical Bible study. Mastering the original languages is appropriate in certain contexts. But there is also a significant place for Christians to simply engage the message of Scripture in their own language on a consistent basis, reading and meditating on it as God’s self-revelation to his people. There is a time to lay down one’s Bible study tools and to simply read the Scriptures, asking God to speak to you through them. Engaging the Scriptures in this fashion will help you to walk with God.
Skye Jethani recommends a helpful fivefold method of engaging with Scriptures as you seek to walk with God.
First, read the Scriptures. “Gently read the passage of Scripture aloud, being mindful of each word and phrase.” You may choose to do so with a large chunk of Scripture. You may select a smaller chunk. However much (or little) you choose to read, the goal is to carefully read Scripture, asking God to make you aware of his presence and speak to you through his word.
Second, meditate on the Scriptures. “Allow the Scriptures to ‘read you.’ Use the passage or phrase to guide your time or reflection of self-examination.” Meditation carefully considers what you have read and seeks to apply it in a way that changes the way you relate to God. It listens carefully to hear how God will speak to you through the text.
Third, speak to God. Pray. “Communicate your thoughts to God with words.” Having reflected on what you have read, how will you respond to God? It may be with thanksgiving or joy. It may be with confession or repentance. It may be admitting your fears or worries. As the psalmists were completely honest with God, pour out your heart to God in prayer.
Fourth, contemplate how God might respond to your prayer. “Use the remainder of the time to be silent and open to what God has to say.” Have you confessed sin and repented? Then contemplate God’s promises of forgiveness. Have you admitted your fear of lacking what you need? Then hear his promises to meet the needs of his people and to withhold no good thing from them. Receive his forgiveness, assurance, or comfort.
Fifth, ruminate on the word. “Take the special word or phrase from the reading with you. Throughout the day return to it as a prompt for prayer and as a reminder of God’s presence with you.” Don’t allow your reading to be left behind as you continue with your day. Take time throughout the day to remember and reflect on what you read that morning or the previous evening.
To walk with God means, among other things, to walk with the Scriptures. Read, meditate, pray, contemplate, and ruminate as you ask God to teach you and to help you to walk with him.