Step One: Begin with Prayer
(Sample) Father, as I read your Word, speak to me. Allow your voice to speak to my heart and the circumstances of my life. Let me be open to hear your law & Gospel voice as I read your Word. Amen.
Step Two: Read and Re-read the Text
It is helpful to read the text repeatedly until we are able to retell the passage in our own words. As we repeatedly read the text, we want to be attentive to those words which may be law and those words which may be gospel. It can be helpful to underline those law words in the passage which seem to be directing us toward our sin. It can also be helpful to circle those gospel words in the passage that seem to be directing us toward the Savior.
Step Three: Review a Study Bible
A study Bible provides helpful insights into the theological issues of the text. However, do not allow these insights, no matter how interesting, to detract from the identification of God’s law voice and his gospel voice. Use any theological insights to help identify our problem with sin and God’s solution of the Savior.
Step Four: Identify God’s Law & Gospel
A helpful way to identify God’s law voice and Gospel voice is to ask one law and one gospel question of each passage. The law question: How does this passage reveal our sinful self-centeredness, which is keeping us from depending on the Savior? The gospel question: How does this passage reveal God’s gift of the Savior, which offers us a new life with Christ?
Step Five: Meditate Upon God’s Gospel
Quieting Our Inner Sanctuary: We quiet our souls by focusing on our breathing. Breathe in slowly while silently spelling the name of Jesus (J-E-S-U-S). Hold your breath as you silently spell Christ (C-H-R-I-S-T). Exhale while silently spelling the Lord (T-H-E-L-O-R-D). Repeat this pattern of breathing until you are relaxed, which takes about ten minutes for most people. You may want to adjust this pattern of breathing so it is comfortable for you. Another way to quiet ourselves is to focus on the temperature of our breath as we inhale and the warmer temperature of our breath as we exhale.
Dwelling within Our Inner Sanctuary: The second part of meditation is to meet the Lord Jesus in the sanctuary of our souls, which we may think of as a place created within our mind’s eye to be with the Lord. Using our favorite sights, sounds, smells and feelings, we visualize our inner sanctuary which is a favorite place where the Lord Jesus meets us.
Listening to God’s Voice in Scripture Speak to Us through Jesus: As Jesus meets us in our inner sanctuary, we ask him to share God’s gospel message of forgiveness and hope from the biblical passage we have just read. Listening to God’s gospel voice restores our trust and hope in Jesus’ death and resurrection. When God’s voice is spoken to us through Jesus, our souls are nourished and refreshed.
As Bonhoeffer explains: God’s Word seeks to enter our souls and remains with us. God does all the work of speaking to our souls. Our singular, and yet daunting task, is to be attentive to God’s voice. Through meditative prayer, we are given the opportunity to listen to a message that God desires to share with us through Jesus. Jesus said, my sheep can hear and know my voice (John 10:11). It is the voice of Jesus that nourishes and refreshes the depths of our being.