Over the years, I have had the privilege of helping believers and new believers learn how to cultivate and begin a relationship with the Lord through simply reading and reflecting on his Word. If you have teenagers or kids at home, you would especially benefit from reading through the book of Proverbs. The average month has 31 days. The book of Proverbs has 31 chapters. Thus, it is simple enough to read one chapter of Proverbs daily for a month.
For example, if the day were the 9th of the month, you would read Proverbs 9. Here are the simple questions I use when I read the Bible devotionally. Technically, it is called the Garland Method of Prayer that Timothy Keller adapted from his reading of Martin Luther.
I read the chapter then I jot down a couple of ideas, thoughts, and insights for each question and then I pray my answers back to the Lord. Below is an example:
• Adoration: What do I see in this text for which I can praise the Lord? (How does this passage lead me to worship God? What does this passage reveal about the nature of God who redeems His people?)
1. The word LORD in Proverbs 9:10 is God’s personal name and reminds me that our God is a God of loyal love.
2. Life and wisdom are found in knowing the One who is called Holy.
3. Lord, give me a greater sense of reverence, awe and humility before You. I am such a proud person. Thank you that you are loyal in your love for us even when we fail in our loyalty to you. I am so fickle in my love and devotion to you. Thank you that you make yourself known to proud, sinful, and fickle people like me.
• Confession: How does this passage lead me to confess or repent to God? (What wrong thoughts, feelings, and behavior happen in me when I forget this about the Lord? What does this passage reveal about our nature that requires God to save us?)
- When I forget that life is found in knowing the Lord, I try in vain to find life in other relationships and other things. It only leads to greater frustration and disappointment. My heart is restless and wayward. Forgive and calm my restless, anxious heart! Bring me to a place where I delight, fear, and know You for who you really are.
- Lord, left to myself I am seduced by the voice of lady folly. A corollary verse of Proverbs 9:10 is Proverbs 1:7. It reminds me “that fools despise wisdom and instruction.” How often I have thought that my way was better than God’s and played the fool.
- Awaken me to the reality that heeding the voice of lady folly leads to death. Her way ends in death (cf. 7:27; 8:36).
• Thanksgiving: How can I thank Jesus for being the ultimate answer to this sin? (How is this sin being caused by an inordinate hope that something else can give me what only Jesus can really give me? How does this passage lead me to the person, work and/or teachings of Jesus?)
Sometimes I will go to this website http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/and look up several key words from the passage I am reading. Words from Proverbs 9 might be: “wisdom,” and “knowledge.”
- Eternal and abundant life is found in knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent (John 17:3). Help me Lord to really believe this.
- In Jesus Christ lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
- Lord, I need you to give me an increased desire and resolve to know and boast in You alone. Left to myself, I boast and find delight in other things. Jeremiah 9:23-24 – “This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.
• Aspiration: How would I live differently if the truths of this passage were more real in my life? (For what does this passage lead me to pray? What do I need from God if I am to realize this truth in my life?)
- Lord, give me a keen alertness to hear your voice (the voice of wisdom). Stop up my ears from listening to the voice of folly and foolishness. May I not give myself to the false values, priorities,and commitments of this present world that is hostile to You.
- Help me to recognize, internalize, and walk in the way of wisdom.
- Bring me to a place where I gladly surrender and submit to You and Your Word for there is no real understanding or wisdom apart from You.
- Show me what’s at stake in the battle for my soul and the souls of my family members. Failure in heeding the voice of wisdom leads not simply to physical death but also to the spiritual reality bound up with where that path is headed – separation from You the only source of true life and love.