When I’m drained and my cup is empty, a good night’s rest helps.
A friend’s encouragement brings blessing.
A brisk walk clears my brain.
At a recent gathering of pastors’ spouses, we compiled this list of ways our empty cups can be filled.
But the list above is not complete. Only one thing really meets my soul-weariness and fills me with what I need most. If prayer is the breath of the soul, then God’s Word is the pure, life-giving air I must breathe if I want clarity, energy, and a deep well to draw on for challenges. I need time in God’s Word, filling my mind with His thoughts.
In His Word, I get to dialogue with a great Mind. God’s Word stretches my thinking beyond my norms. I find a perspective that reconfigures all my own experience. I find a secure Rock on which to plant my courage. His Word even channels unwieldy emotions and puts to rest my simmering hurts and disappointments. His Word plugs the drains that would empty me.
Personal interaction with God in His Word is vital. I need to meet Him privately, with all my needs, all my questions. The principles below apply first to my own private Bible study.
In addition, I’ve found richness in coming to God’s Word with other women who are looking to be filled. My Bible study friends—church members and community women from all walks of life—offer me a consistent, focused, Bible-centered fellowship that has fed my soul and kept me strong even when I’m a spiritual leader to them. While I minister to them, I am filled to overflowing.
Here’s what we’ve learned through years of precious journey together:
• Our greatest need is to hear God speak. It’s easy for a group of women to sit around and talk about our woes or just share the latest “news.” Even well-intended prayer groups sometimes don’t get beyond everyone’s problems— offered in the form of “prayer requests.” Our time together is not for rehearsing our needs but for listening to what Jesus has to say. We come to His Word just as we are, with all our needs, but we want to leave with the realization of who He is.
• Real answers to real-life needs are in God’s Word. I’ve noticed over and over how the answer to each unspoken need is often in the passage we’re studying. The Holy Spirit knows our burdens and draws out exactly what we need. A single passage, with His guidance, meets many needs.
• Studying God’s Word brings rich fellowship. I’ve learned that studying God’s Word with others, especially studying to know God better, creates powerful, bonding fellowship. I’m not so lonely when I see what God has done for others and how He is meeting the needs of my friends. I realize how similar our journeys are and that God can do for me what He has done for them. This is the fellowship of the Word!
The idea of leading a Bible study group used to frighten me. But our group follows very simple steps for “unwrapping” a passage, and we all contribute to the study. First, we assume every passage in Scripture is about God—a revelation of Him, how He thinks, what He has done, how He works with sinners, what He wants to accomplish in our world, and so on. Second, we believe every passage in Scripture is meant to bring us salvation—to help us see our need and understand what God wants to give us. This keeps us focused.
From there we ask, “What is the passage saying?” The facts, characters, actions, and details; the logical progression of thoughts, conversations, descriptions, repeated words, and word pictures; the connecting words (therefore, but, so that), parallel phrases (saying the same thing two different ways), and contrasts (saying the opposite)—all of these tell us something about the story.
Next we ask, “What did the passage mean to the immediate listener?” Who was the speaker? What was their role? Who was this passage first intended for? What was their situation? Their need? What was God saying to them about Himself? About themselves?
Then we apply the message to ourselves. We ask, (1) “What is God saying to me about Himself?” And then, (2) “What is God saying about me— my needs, my hopes, my future?” Usually the personal applications show up long before the end of our study.
The capstone is our prayer time: praying for what we’ve just learned about God and about ourselves. We often bring special prayer requests or personal challenges to prayer time. More often than not, our needs appear in a new light because we’ve seen a picture of God in His Word and can praise Him for what is already being done!
In our years of studying together, we’ve learned that nothing fills the heart like Scripture. We hope you find, like we have, that there is no emptiness His Word cannot meet. God is there, waiting for you to drink deeply, to find all the resources you need. He’ll never let you down.