You can never just read the Bible.
There is something deep happening. It’s something more glorious than the universe. Whether you open these pages before dawn, over midmorning coffee, or at the dinner table with family, whenever you read the Biblesomething miraculous is happening. After all, you are not just any ordinary person, and the Bible isn’t just any old book.
You are, if you are trusting in Jesus, a redeemed son or daughter of God. The Bible is his very word. And yet, as clear as this is to us on paper and in theory, it can easily slip our minds when we step in and out of the normal routine of daily Bible reading. But it doesn’t have to. It shouldn’t.
Practically, this gets down to the details of how we approach Scripture. In chapter nine of When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper introduces a helpful acronym of how to pray over our Bible reading. This acronym — I.O.U.S. — is taken straight from the Psalms and anchors our aim in reading by four explosive verbs: incline, open, unite, satisfy. I still have this prayer taped to my desk on the yellowed index card on which I first copied it. I have petitioned God for this work virtually everyday for the past decade.
Incline my heart to you, not to prideful gain or any false motive.
Open my eyes to behold wonderful things in your Word.
Unite my heart to fear your name.
Satisfy me with your steadfast love.
But then, there is actually something much more basic to remember before we get to this prayer. It is simple, very simple, but I think it recalibrates our hearts and stills the swirling of our minds, especially when we find ourselves in a rut. It thaws our coldness, it seems, and clears the table to focus our souls on the wonder of what we’re doing. It is remembering three straightforward truths: God, the text, and the reader.
This is obvious in many ways, but perhaps too often assumed — there is a God, he speaks through a Book, and he speaks to people like me.
Written by Jonathan Parnell
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