Friday August 20, 2021
Next week we will unveil a new model for the First 15 that is designed to bring us closer to God and deeper in discipleship. We will explore intimate prayer, reflect on scripture and listen for God’s Word speaking directly into our individual lives. Today’s First 15 will introduce you to the concept and prepare you to begin our journey on Monday, August 23, 2021.
Lord God, enlighten my heart and mind as I endeavor to understand your Word in the holy scriptures. Teach me a new way of reading the Bible that enables me to listen for your voice. I want to know and comprehend what you are saying in my life. Teach me to pray in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
Pause and Pray
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13
In order to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ, it is important that we develop rhythms of scripture reading, meditation and prayer. The First 15 is a well-designed and well-written tool enabling us to spend quality time with God daily. First Methodist Mansfield’s pastors have been preparing and providing the First 15 resource for years, encouraging us to begin the first fifteen minutes of every day with God. I personally enjoy participating in this devotion every morning.
At the request of our Senior Pastor, David Alexander, we will continue to offer the First 15 but take a new direction for Fall of 2021. This new format will feel more like a personal prayer guide than a daily devotional.
There are many outstanding daily devotionals available. I have enjoyed a variety over the years – devotions like The Upper Room, Jesus Calling, and The SeedBed Daily Text. Daily devotionals bring the scripture alive under the writing of a faithful Christian author and help relate the Bible to daily life. Sometimes however, when we read a daily devotional, we may hear what God is saying to the author and potentially prevent what God want to say directly to us.
In order to grow closer in our walk with God we will incorporate several ancient prayer methods into the First 15 over the next several weeks. This prayer guide will open our hearts and minds to what God is saying directly to us. Two of the practices we will utilize are called Lectio Divina and Praying the Scriptures.
Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading” or “holy reading.” The practice was developed around the year 220 A.D. in the monasteries of Western Christianity. The method of prayer and divine reading are intended to promote communion with God and increase one’s understanding of God’s Word. Instead of a text to be studied, the scripture is understood as a Living Word.
Using this method in the First 15, we will read three passages of scripture every day, one selected from the Psalms. We will be reminded to pause and pray, resting in God’s presence. We will read slowly and carefully, meditate and think deeply on a spiritual reality within the text. We will read the main scripture twice and listen for key words and phrases that jump out to us. We will ponder what God might be speaking to us through the Biblical words. In this way we open ourselves to what God wants to speak directly into our lives. Praying the Scriptures is an additional practice we will learn. It is a method of taking a scripture passage and turning it into a prayer that we pray throughout the day.
I hope you will go on this discipleship journey with me starting next week. I would appreciate any feedback you want to share so that we can continue to improve the First 15. Please email comments directly to me at email@example.com.
Holy God, I want to go deeper in my journey of discipleship. Teach me to read and pray the scriptures. Give me an understanding of your Word as alive and active. Open my heart and mind so that I can hear from you and grow as a follower of Jesus Christ. Amen,
The First 15
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