Even though I’m a cradle Catholic, I spent every Thursday night of my high school years at a nondenominational Protestant youth group. (I lived in the Middle East, where there was no Catholic option, but that’s a story for another day!) It was the first time I saw people use Scripture as a lifeline: the very first place they turned for comfort, for clarity, or for understanding. I observed friends carrying miniature Bibles in their backpacks, covering pages with notes and underlines, and committing verses to memory.
Catholics + the Bible
While it is a bit of a running joke that Catholics don’t know their Bibles, the truth is that the Word of God touches practically every aspect of our Catholic lives and liturgies. In Scott Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home, the story of his conversion, he recalls his first time observing a Catholic Mass:
I watched and listened as the readings, prayers, and responses—so steeped in Scripture—made the Bible come alive…all of a sudden I realized, this is where the Bible belongs.
Sure enough, Scripture stretches far beyond our church’s daily readings. It is so deeply ingrained in our Sacraments and prayers, we often don’t even realize that the words we’re saying come straight from the Bible.
How to Fall in Love with Scripture
My spiritual goal for this year was to cultivate a deeper love for God’s Word. I’ve been reading the daily readings with Blessed is She since the daily devotionals launched years ago. Far too often, though, I skimmed over them without letting them impact me in the way I know they could.
I have witnessed what a genuine love for Scripture looks like (in both Protestants and Catholics), and I knew it was something I desperately wanted.
Ask God for a Love of His Word
One of my all-time favorite priests frequently encouraged me to ask God for things like a deeper love for my husband, an easier ability to forgive, and more time to spend with the Lord. “Do you think He would refuse that?” he always asked.
I feel that way about praying for a love of Scripture.
This tiny step—lifting up one sentence to the Lord before opening the readings for the day—had a significant impact on the way reading Scripture felt to me from the very first day I did it.
God gave us His Word as a gift and a guide. It is one of the clearest ways He speaks to us. Praying for a love of Scripture is, essentially, praying for a love of His voice. Of course He will not refuse that!
All of a sudden, verses I had heard a thousand times were illuminated in a new way, while verses I didn’t recall ever seeing before made me wonder how I had ever overlooked them. Opening my Bible felt, for the first time, like opening a love letter from the Lord.
Pray before Reading
To ensure I kept praying over my time in the Word and asking for that love of Scripture, I composed a short prayer to recite daily. Saying it keeps me from distracted skimming. Instead, it opens my heart and prepares me to receive whatever the Lord may have for me in the readings that day.
Mine is below, but consider composing your own that reflects your own desires for your prayer time. Keep it tucked in your Bible, displayed in the place where you usually spend quiet time with God, or even in a note on your phone if that’s where you’re reading the Word.
Heavenly Father and Author of life, through these words of Sacred Scripture, help me to know Your heart, to hear Your commands, to grow in understanding, and to receive Your mercy and love, that I too may say, “Did my heart not burn within me while He spoke to me on the way and opened the Scriptures to me?” Come, Holy Spirit.
Use a Physical Bible
I’ll admit I use my phone to do the readings more often than not. But whenever I can, I love keeping tech tucked away and digging into a physical Bible. There is a certain romance to feeling its weight in my lap, turning the thin pages, and carefully marking verses that resonate with me. I believe that that matters.
Part of cultivating a love of Scripture is cultivating a love for the habit of reading Scripture. I know that I am far more likely to love the experience of reading my physical Bible, maybe even with a lit candle or hot mug of coffee nearby, than I am the experience of scrolling through the readings before clicking over to whatever notification tempts my pitiful attention span.
Keep a Journal
As often as possible, I reach for my journal during my prayer time to record the verse that resonates most with me that day. Sometimes, I keep my entry as simple as the verse copied out, while other times, I’ll add additional prayers and reflections. Either way, I’ve found that being mindful of which verse I want to write makes the experience of reading Scripture even more impactful. It serves as the perfect reminder to actively search for what God may be saying to me through His word and to take a greater pause with those verses.
As a bonus, I love flipping through past entries as a reminder of His ever-enduring faithfulness.
It only takes one instance of recalling the exact verse you need exactly when you need it to affirm the value of memorizing Scripture.
Not sure where to start? Peruse our “Scripture Verses to Pray” blog series, which includes curated lists of verses for different situations and seasons. Here are a few I’ve turned to lately:
- Scripture Verses to Pray During Times of Quarantine
- Scripture Verses to Pray in the Springtime
- Scripture Verses to Pray in Times of Anxiety
Additionally, don’t miss the Encourage Bible Verse cards in the Blessed is She shop, featuring verses written in beautiful calligraphy. They’re perfect for displaying in places you’ll see them often.
In his Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales writes:
Cultivate a special devotion to God’s Word, whether studied privately or in public; always listen to it with attention and reverence, strive to profit by it, and do not let it fall to the ground, but receive it within your heart as a precious balm, thereby imitating the Blessed Virgin, who ‘kept all these things in her heart.’
What sweeter encouragement to love the Word could we ask for?
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