"Praying scripture is not judged by how much you read but by the way in which you read. If you read quickly, it will benefit you little. You will be like a bee that merely skims the surface of a flower. Instead, in this new way of reading with prayer, you must become as the bee that penetrates into the depths of the flower. You plunge deeply within to remove its deepest nectar."
~ Madame Guyon, 7th French mystic
I have to admit there was once a time when I approached God's Word rather causally. Flipping through it randomly, reading passages that I hardly remembered afterwards and feeling content that at least I had opened my Bible in the first place! I never really had a moment of insight, a moment where I thought God was revealing something to me, a moment where peace descended upon me and my heart opened up to embrace the reality of God and where I experienced the realization of the fullness of His glory. If anything the Bible seemed kind of...well...bland and disconnected to my modern experience. I hate to say it, but in such a state as I once found myself in, I viewed certain books, especially in the Old Testament, as well...obsolete! (I reluctantly write these words because they are not easy ones to admit!...but somehow I don't think I'm alone.)
God has an amazing way of revealing in time His truths to the believer and when the heart is ripe, the harvest will come. I suppose my heart wasn't ripe during those earlier times. If I was given the seeds of mindfulness to plant into my practice and approach I am afraid they probably would have only sprouted a bit and then wilted. No, it wasn't until I was already aware and deep into the practice of mindfulness meditation for quite sometime, not even considering or thinking of incorporating the practice towards reading and praying scripture, when I read Richard Foster's book, Celebration of Discipline. It was then when I saw the connection. I have found this practice truly transforming. And honestly, mindfulness applied to anything, whether it be washing the dishes, taking a shower, walking in the woods or meditating, enriches one's experience opening up whole new dimensions of experiencing reality. I encourage all to explore this approach and apply it!
To experience the present more fully is a beautiful way of watching life and reality unfold itself before you. To experience Scripture more fully and plunge into the Word of God and enter the depths of its riches is an experience that leaves one changed and charged with the glory of God.
As Madam Guyon shares with us, Scripture is unique and shouldn't be read in a trite and flighty manner. Richard Foster supports her view of this and shares his own with these words:
We cannot read Scripture the way we read the New York Times or an article on Wikipedia. The Bible is not susceptible to skimming, to summarizing, to speed-reading; there is a fundamental difference between Google and the gospel. Scripture is deep, rich, complex, and multi-layered. It speaks through nuances and details. It yields its fruit slowly and gently. (Renovare, November 2008 - Vol.15, No. 3)
When we take a few moments before reading Scripture to quiet our minds, pray and then open the holy words of God with a heart leaning forward with eager expectancy, ready to dive into the words and truths they contain, God blesses us for coming to Him with eager and seeking hearts. To be mindful simply means to be fully present. To not be distracted by wayward thoughts that oftentimes compete for our attention and muddle our thoughts, obscuring clarity and hindering perception. May we all be inspired by Madame Guyon's illustration and approach God's Word as bees digging for the sweet and living nectar of God's truths and in doing so, be touched and transformed by His amazing presence and reality.
We thank you for safely bringing us into a new day. We know there are factors in our lives that worry us, pleasantly distract us and otherwise take our attention off from experiencing you in the present moment. May we learn to shed ourselves from such illusions, for nothing compares to your Glory and your Word and the life it offers. When we open the scriptures we ask you to help us be fully present and plunge into its depths. May it refresh and restore us, giving us hope and strength, light and new truths and a deeper sense of compassion and love so that we may, every time our Bible closes, be more and more transformed by your love. May we take the blessings and truths you give us and use them as tools to bring glory to your great name and reflect your love and light to a dim and dark world. May we shatter the darkness that surrounds us with your love and draw others closer to you.
In Jesus' name,