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The fire in my heart was burning dangerously low because it didn't have enough fuel. Before that day was out, I got my Bible, picked up my pencil and a legal pad, and began to do an in-depth study of His Word. Within a week of my repentance and obedience, my joy and passionate love for Him returned, and within a short time, it was rekindled into a roaring blaze. I had added logs to my fire, and you can do the same.

The Bible tells us to "fan into flame the gift of God" (2 Tim. 1:6). That gift is the Holy Spirit, who is the fire of God, igniting our relationship with Jesus. Your fire will go out also, if you neglect to stir it up and keep putting the logs on it. Here's how to get started:

Talk to Him. What kind of a year, or month or week have you had? Has it been physically exhausting, emotionally depleting, spiritually draining, financially challenging? Do you long to just sit down and talk to someone about it? Someone who is a wise, caring, attentive listener? Someone with integrity, who can keep confidences? Someone who won't silently smirk at your stupidity or ignorance but will actually love you while patiently listening?

There are times my heart aches to have someone to talk to about me...and them...and it...and you. So I carve out time to get alone, curl up in my easy chair by the fire, and imagine Jesus sitting there in another chair opposite me. And I just talk to Him. That is the privilege we call prayer.

I begin with worship, which leads into confession of sin, a private exchange between God and me. Following a time of confession, I think my heart would burst if I couldn't give voice to my praise for all He has done for me, so I thank Him. Then I give voice to my requests for others and myself.

I never cease to be amazed that Jesus invites us to come into His Father's presence, to crawl up into His lap by faith, to feel His loving arms of protection around us, and to pour out our hearts.

Listen to Him. For some, hearing God speak is like a quiet knowing. For others, it's more electric—as though the verses had bells, whistles and flashing neon lights. Regardless of how His voice sounds to you, the impact will be like fuel that keeps the fire burning in your heart. Over the years, I've developed a way to read God's Word so that I more clearly hear His voice speaking to me personally through the pages of the Bible.

(1) Begin by reading a brief passage of Scripture (two to eight verses). Read God's Word prayerfully, objectively, thoughtfully, attentively. The object of this devotional exercise is not to get through a passage, or even to study a passage, but to maintain the fire of revival in your heart as you hear from Him.

(2) Make a verse-by-verse list of the outstanding facts as you see them in the passage. Pinpoint the most obvious facts. Do not paraphrase or put His words into your own, but use the actual words from the passage itself. Leave out secondary details and start with the nouns and verbs.

(3) Go back to the list of facts and look for a lesson or spiritual principle to learn in each fact. Ask yourself: "What are the people in this passage doing or not doing that I should be doing or not doing? Is there a command I should obey? A promise to claim? A warning to heed? An example to follow?"

(4) Take the lessons or principles from step three and put them in the form of a question you could ask yourself, your spouse, your child, a friend, a neighbor, or a co-worker. Then listen for God to speak to you personally through His Word.

This is the most meaningful step, the one in which I so frequently hear God's voice. But you cannot do step four until steps one, two and three are completed.

If you're someone who has trouble settling down and waiting quietly to hear the still, small voice of God, don't be discouraged. It takes awhile to develop this ability to focus single-mindedly so that everything else around you seems to temporarily fade away.

The more time you spend in this prayerful, meditative, listening mode, the clearer God's voice will become. Greater understanding will come to you as you meditate and open your mind to His Spirit.

(5) Listen for God to speak to you through the passage. He may not speak to you through every verse, but He will speak. When He does, record the verse number, what it is He seems to be saying to you and your response to Him. You may wish to note the date as a means of keeping a journal and to hold yourself accountable to an obedient response.

My friend Thomas told me that when he was a young boy, a very well-meaning neighborhood woman had forced him, along with her son and other playmates, to read the Bible and memorize Scripture. He described how his active little body much preferred running and jumping, throwing a ball and biking and hiking. The forced Bible-reading sessions produced an aversion to the Scriptures that carried over into his adulthood.

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