Have you ever felt like God was silent? Whenever I feel like God is absent from life I often have to examine my quiet time. The ways in which God speaks are many but they are all often rooted in pray, worship, and His word. Usually, after a few weeks or months of silence, I eventually give in and try to examine what’s really going on. What changed? Before I answer that let me tell you about how I recently discovered an acronym that helps in your Bible study.
I first heard about the acronym H.E.A.R. from a Pastor at a conference named, Robby Gallaty. To be honest, when I heard him talk, I thought using this method would be mechanical. It could change my morning routine into something – well – even more routine. I thought to myself, “I never liked studying for a test and I want to love God’s word, why would some formula help me?!”
Let’s go through it together, take a look at a verse and then wrap this up with what might be a key to unlock the silence.
Using the HEAR acronym is pretty easy because you can apply it to any reading. If you’re reading a devotional it can really bring out the scripture. If you’re reading through the Bible, it can help make the Word more meaningful. I found for me that using this method (which we’ll cover below) is best if you read through the sections your Bible has in there for you or read until you reach an “ah-ha!” or eureka moment.
Highlight Key Verses
As you’re reading, highlight the verse that stands out to you. I recommend reading different versions of the Bible to try to capture more of the meaning. Gallaty recommends keeping a journal and if you’re doing that, you’d start with H and then write out the verse. When you do this it’ll help you reference some of the verses that spoke to you.
Explain What You Read
In my paper Bible, I have small notes that remind me of the special moments I had when I read something for the first time. Some Bibles have in-depth explanations that you could highlight here. The point of explaining isn’t for you to write your own devotional, but rather to reflect on the word and what it means to you. Keeping this in a journal can be really effective at helping you retaining what you read and reinforcing what wisdom you captured. This isn’t meant to be a test and it’s not being turned in. However, I would recommend you try keeping a journal even for a short time or recording notes on your Bible app. In other words, don’t knock it until you try it.
Gallaty has some questions you can ask to help jumpstart your mind.
- Why was the verse or passage written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- How does the verse or passage fit with the verses before and after it?
- Why would the Holy Spirit include this passage in the Bible book?
- What does God intend to communicate through the text?
Apply The Word
This is the pivot point of the exercise. You read the Word. You found something that spoke to you. You went deeper into that passage to try to understand it better. Now it’s time to say, “what now?” I just love to test God’s Word, not because I’m looking for faults, but rather when I push on it, it often pushes back! When you apply the word, you’re taking what you read and seeing how it can change your life. We’ll work through an example below to see what this might look like.
Respond To Your Father
If you google “HEAR Bible Study Method” you’ll find that the R could be an action statement or summary. For me, it’s always a prayer to my Heavenly Father. It’s in HEARing the Word that I HEAR His voice (almost Dad joke usage, I know). His voice was never silent, the Bible was always there, but I turned reading His love letters into a chore that had to be completed. Ironically, taking a structured approach to studying His Word reopened my ears to hear Him. In the end, hearing from God isn’t about your tasks, it’s how you cultivate your relationship with Him. HEAR isn’t foolproof, but it could be a fresh way to look at the Word and keep your relationship fresh.
Here’s a quick example of my HEAR session
HEAR Journal Entry Example
This (Matt 21:2-22) passage describes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as well as when he cursed the fig tree. It concludes with the famous scripture about having faith to cast a mountain into the sea. I’ve read this 100 times and always focused on the faith statement or Jesus’ triumphant entry but never understood the fig tree. The fig tree had leaves and looked healthy but wasn’t bearing any fruit.
It’s not enough to “appear healthy.” I need to take action and bear fruit. When God “feels” silent I need to stretch my roots down even further so that I have enough fruit for the season.
Change my heart to be more on fire for you and your Word. Create in me a fresh clean heart to pursue and help me bear the kind of fruit that would cause your blessing. In Jesus’ Name!