Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.
Imagine you haven’t eaten for a while; you’re hungry and weak from the lack of food. Suddenly, a delectable aroma floats by. It makes your mouth water, but simply smelling the aroma of food doesn’t satisfy you. You’re still as hungry as you were before.
Simply reading something in the Bible and being temporarily inspired is kind of like smelling a delectable aroma. It’s not that we don’t receive anything at all, but the inspiration quickly fades. Nothing solid actually “sticks to our ribs” or satisfies us inwardly. For that, we need to eat the Word of God.
“Eating” the Word of God may sound strange to us. But as we saw in a previous post, God gave us His Word to be food to us. It’s by eating the Word of God that we can be spiritually nourished and strengthened in our Christian life.
But to eat the Word of God, we must go deeper than simply reading it. So in this post, we’ll discuss how to eat the Word of God.
Using the right organ
Physically speaking, we need to use the right organ of our body to perform particular functions.
For instance, our nose is the organ we use to smell the aroma of food. But we can’t eat with our nose. And we certainly can’t eat with our ears or our eyes. The proper organ for eating is our mouth. We have to use our mouth to take the food in.
All of this may seem very obvious, but we need to realize that eating the Word of God also requires us to use the right organ. We may be accustomed to exercising our mind to learn something or our emotion to feel something when we open the Bible. But neither our mind nor our emotion is the right organ for receiving the Word of God as food.
We need to exercise our spirit
The words in the Bible are just black and white letters on a page in and of themselves. If we only use our mind to understand them, that’s all they’ll ever be to us. But the Bible is more than that. The very essence of the Word of God is Spirit.
The Lord Jesus said in John 6:63:
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
The Spirit who gives life is embodied in the Word. But to contact the Spirit in the Word and receive life, we need to use the proper organ. That organ is our human spirit.
The Bible reveals that our spirit is the deepest, innermost part of our being. God created our human spirit with the unique ability to contact and even receive Him. By using our spirit, we can contact the Spirit in the Word.
For the Bible to become the food that fills our inner hunger and gives us life, we must exercise our spirit to contact the Spirit in the Word. So how do we exercise, or use, our spirit? Just as we exercise our feet by walking, we can exercise our spirit by praying.
The Spirit, the Word, prayer, and our spirit
In Ephesians 6:17-18 the apostle Paul puts the Spirit, the Word, prayer, and our spirit together:
“And receive the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which Spirit is the word of God, by means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time in spirit.”
This verse makes it clear we must receive the Spirit in the Word of God by means of all prayer, praying every time in our spirit. This is how we eat the Word of God. When we exercise our spirit by praying as we read the Bible, we touch the Spirit in the Word—and it’s the Spirit who gives life. We’re nourished and supplied to grow in the life of God and live a healthy Christian life.
Having the proper focus
We certainly need to read and even study the Bible for our enlightenment and understanding. But when we come to the Word to feed on it, we don’t need to be so concerned about whether we fully understand the verses. Understanding will come; during these times, we should simply concentrate on exercising our spirit in prayer with the Word.
It helps to pray out loud. It isn’t that God doesn’t hear our silent prayers, but praying audibly helps us exercise our spirit more strongly, focus on the Word, and be less distracted by our thoughts.
Even before we even open the Bible, it’s also good to take a moment to pray. We can utter a simple prayer like this:
“Lord Jesus, I come to Your Word. Lord, I want to exercise my spirit to receive Your Word as food. Feed me, Lord Jesus, in Your Word.”
Then we simply open the Bible to read. Let’s say we’ve been reading through the New Testament and come to John 1:4:
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
We can pause and pray with the words of this verse. Our prayer may be something like this:
“In Him was life. Life is only in You, Lord. Thank You, Lord, now that I have You, I have life. Lord, keep me enjoying You as life today. And praise You, Lord, You are the light of men. Oh Lord Jesus, You are now my light. Shine on me, Lord. Don’t let me be in any darkness.”
Perhaps as we’re “eating” the word light, the Lord may begin to shine on a sin we committed that we were unconscious of.
We should confess that sin right away to be forgiven and cleansed, and then we can continue eating. When we exercise our spirit to contact God’s Word, we often experience God shining on us, and we can instantly respond to Him. This is all part of our eating the Word of God.
If we have more time, we can go on reading until another verse strikes us. We can stop and pray spontaneously with what arises from our heart and our spirit.
Some helpful points
Here are a few points that can help us practice to feed on the Word of God:
- During these times of eating, we don’t need to feel compelled to finish a chapter or section. We can take our time to read and pray, pray and read.
- Just as physically overeating is bad for us, we shouldn’t try to take in too much when we eat the Word. Enjoying a few verses at one time is usually plenty.
- By repeating God’s Word back to Him and turning it into our prayer, we can be set free from praying formal, routine prayers.
- We can be saved from thinking too much about ourselves and our situation by including thanking and praising the Lord as we pray with His Word. This will also uplift our appreciation of Him.
- We can pray with the very same verse at different times in our lives and experience something new because the Spirit is living. As we exercise our spirit and contact the Spirit in the Word, we receive a fresh supply of life and appreciation for that verse.
We hope you begin to enjoy eating the Word of God every day. May His words be spirit and life to you, enlivening you and satisfying your hunger. If you live in Australia, you can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here.
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