Memorization has been a central part of life with God for as long as the written scriptures has been available. But it is not rote memorization that matters; rather, knowing passages by heart allows us to meditate on God’s words and allows them to shape the way we view the world. We are constantly using words to interpret the world around us; having God’s word at the ready helps us to see things the way God does.
Praying the promises is a practice of fighting temptation, despair, frustration and apathy by centering our attention on promises God has made in His word, and putting our hope in these promises rather than whatever we can come up by our own energy. We turn these promises into prayers, asking God to provide for what He has promised, through Jesus, so that we can abide with God
The greatest gift of the Gospel is God Himself. Above forgiveness, eternal life, transformation of our hearts, the best joy is that we get God! He is always with us, and always delighted in us, because we are His children. But this deep intimacy for which our heart yearns—and which no person can satisfy—is hard to enter. We forget. We believe lies (about God, about ourselves). And so we walk as though we were not in the presence of our Beloved, even as He is closer than our breath.
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles urge us to pray always. We generally assume that by this they mean that we should bring all our needs to God; and this is surely important. But through Church history, many have believed that God intends us to live continually in His presence, with unbroken communication. And this is not a burden, but a privilege. “There is no mode of life in the world more pleasing and more full of delight than continual conversation with God,” writes Brother Lawrence.
Breath prayer is a practice aimed at cultivating the habit of continually abiding in the presence of God. It is a laying hold of the Gospel—for only through Jesus can we have boldness to think God would be near our hearts, in every circumstance!
The Bible is different from other books—its Author invites us, through its pages, into a personal, daily relationship with Him. The purpose of the Bible, ultimately, is not to give us facts, interesting stories or moral rules. Through every passage, God is inviting us to know Him the way we know a good friend, the way we know how apple pie tastes and the way we know what salty sea air smells like. He wants us to experience His presence as we read.
The practice of reading the Bible meditatively—searching to experience the God we are reading about—was the main way of reading the Bible for the first 1,500 years of the church. Rather than attempting to plow through large chunks of text (which is something that can only happen once people become literate and have the Word in their hands), Christians would listen to small portions of the Bible and hold onto a word, a phrase, a verse and mull over it throughout the week. The nugget of truth they found there would be, for them, an invitation into life with God each day.
- Opening to God, David Benner
- Life with God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation, Richard J. Foster
- Sacred Reading, Michael Casey
- Too Deep for Words, Thelma Hall