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FIRST-PERSON; ‘Living & active’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–At first glace, the Bible simply looks like a book. But it is immeasurably more.

A glass of water may not be a marvelous sight, unless you are desperately thirsty; then it becomes invaluable.

Coins or paper currency are passive objects, but when they are taken into the marketplace they provide food, clothing or other personal needs. Money can fulfill a person’s wishes and, unfortunately, fuel a person’s self-centeredness and eventual ruin.

It is entirely plausible, then, that “the Word of God is living and active,” as the Bible is described in the Book of Hebrews, chapter 4, verse 12, and thus a vital part of our times in prayer.

“Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow,” the passage continues with a metaphoric touch; “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.”

This stark transparency before our Creator’s eyes might leave us undone and hopeless, but instead, God intends for it to deepen our intimacy with Him.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess,” the Scripture counsels, reminding us that God’s intense knowledge of our thoughts and actions should stir us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (verses 12-16).

Our time of need isn’t just when a crisis has erupted; it encompasses every moment of awareness of our dependence on God to draw another breath, to experience life at its fullest and to preserve our souls into eternity.

Through God’s love, we will have “confidence on the day of judgment,” we are told in 1 John, chapter four, verse 17, “because in this world we are like him.”

Knowing that the “living and active” Word of God is a key dynamic by which we become “like him,” the practice of memorizing and internalizing Scripture provides momentous opportunities to take hold of an ever-deepening faith.

More and more, we become the kind of people Scripture envisions and we experience the kinds of things that occur in God’s supernatural realm.

Increasingly, we are attuned to the inward transformation and outward flow of the “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control” noted in the Galatians 5 passage that describes the fruit of the Spirit.

Frequently, we contemplate what’s on God’s heart as conveyed in Scripture and by the Holy Spirit. We begin to ponder His wisdom, seeking in prayer to apply the intriguing qualities set forth in James 3:17: that the “wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

And when we lovingly speak forth God’s Word, it has a way of enriching us as well as those who hear it.

In listening to music, we often become absorbed by it, allowing it to infuse and reverberate in our souls. Scripture, though its impact may be more subtle, is far more crucial to our well-being than any melody or set of lyrics.

Internalizing various life-changing Scripture passages is as important spiritually as an elementary school student learning the basics of addition and subtraction, or a worker attaining the skills necessary to do his or her job, or a driver knowing the various road signs that assure safe travel.

When we are rooted in Jesus and open to his Holy Spirit, Scripture is far more likely than any other resource known to man to help us pray in tune with God. Each Scripture passage that we internalize is like a new path toward God’s love and wisdom and His eternal riches.
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press. This article was adapted from an unpublished manuscript on prayer.