You’ve probably guessed it already but “The Spiritual Dumbbell” has kind of a double meaning.  First, I consider myself a bit of a Spiritual Dumbbell; or at least I feal that way from time-to-time.  Every now and then I feel like I just don’t “get it”, or I have an “ah ha moment” when I figure out something that I should have known all along.

Secondly, the concept behind the Spiritual Dumbbell is that this site helps provide a kind of resource for our Spiritual “fitness”.  We’ve got to do our daily lifting, so to speak, and I think a prayerful reflection of scripture is just the ticket.

This site came into being because some of my friends wanted to read the scriptures every day but they wanted a little help.  We all agreed to read one pericop per day so I said I would email them to the group.  After I emailed a couple I sent one out with a little preface saying “I think this one needs a little explanation.”  The next thing I knew, I was writing a prayerful reflection almost every day.

I say “prayerful reflection” because our model for reading scripture is to pray, read, read again, and pray again.  This approach to reading scripture is meant to let God speak to us through His divine Word.  With this methodology, we make reading scripture a kind of “prayerful listening.”  It goes like this:

  1. Pray – especially for the Holy Spirit to come and accompany you as you read the scriptures.  The Holy Spirit accompanied the biblical writer; it only makes sense that we should want the same guidance when reading the sacred Word.
  2. Read the scripture – in this first reading, be especially attentive to the words.  Reading out loud is a great approach. During this reading you want to be attentive to what words jump out at you or grab your attention.  During this reading you’re attentive to what God is trying to “say” to you. (Let those who have ears, hear.)
  3. Read again – during this re-read try to really picture what is going on in the story.  Imagine you are there and try to take in every image.  Be especially attentive to any images that catch your attention. During this reading you’re attentive to what God is trying to “show” you. (Let those who have eyes, see.)
  4. Pray again – a quiet, listening style of prayer is what you’re after.  Prayer at this time won’t have a lot of words coming from us and going to God.  Take it all in, especially in the context of your life, your Christian life.  Are you facing trials?  Are you thankful?  Are you hopeful? Are you worried?  Let God speak to you through his scriptures.  Take what you’ve read and hold it in prayer throughout the day.  In your mind, keep returning to it again and again looking for what God is saying.

Ideally, you would follow this model in your own reading.  Try to pray, read, read again, and pray again before checking my reflection.  The idea is that we should all be checking in with God first; we want to let Him speak to us through His scriptures.

Please note that when you read a reflection in these pages we do not assert that it is the only, or the definitive, interpretation for the particular scripture passage.  The reflections carried in these pages are intended to convey how the scriptures speak to us on any given day.

∗ What the heck is a pericope? – Pericope is a Greek word meaning “cut out” and forms one coherent thought or meaning in the bible.  I could talk about a section of scripture, but even that could cause confusion.

It is the custom of modern bible translation to separate the scripture into pericopes.  I think the introduction of chapters in the scriptures had this intent, but frankly biblical scholarship was in what I would call its pre-infancy when chapter divisions were introduced.  Don’t get me wrong, chapter divisions and even verse numbering are great navigational aids, but they fall short when it comes to cutting out a coherent thought.
Each biblical translator decides for their own work which verses constitute a coherent thought.  There is a lot of agreement between various bibles, but not 100% complete identical agreement.

† If you’re familiar with the practice of Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) then you’ll recognize that this approach is very similar. Here at the Spiritual Dumbbell, we’re big fans of Lectio Divina, so if you would rather pattern your prayerful reading of scripture after that ancient practice, then we say “Great! Go for it.”  Our real intention is to make sure that when we read scripture, at least for these reflections, we want to make sure we’re doing two things.

First, we want our reading of scripture to be a prayerful reading.  Secondly, we want our prayer to be more of a “listening” rather than speaking.  We’re more interested in what God is saying to us and, for these reflections, less interested in what we’re asking of Him.