An often overlooked aspect of Bible study is hearing God’s Word. How often do we hear it? We know Romans 10:17 tells us “so faith cometh by hearing…” The prophets in the Old Testament often prefaced their message with the instructions, “Hear the Word of the Lord.” It was hearing the Word of the Lord that brought life back to the dry bones in Ezekiel 37. There is definitely something significant about the hearing of God’s Word.
In the Gospels, the people pressed upon Jesus to “Hear the Word of God.“(Luke 5) Jesus told parables about “Hearing the Word” (Mark 4, Luke 8) During Paul’s missionary journeys it was not uncommon for crowds of people to come out of the city to where he was to “Hear the Word of God.” (Acts 13)
We understand in this context, to hear the Word of God means literally hearing the Gospel message as someone audibly preaches, teaches or shares it. Romans 10 indicates that we would never have been saved unless we had heard that Word preached to us! We also know after becoming a Christian how important it is to hear our pastor and others teach us the Word of God so we can grow in our faith. But could hearing the Word also mean something more?
I believe most of the time when people read or study their Bible they read to themselves. What I mean by that is they read it quietly in their mind – they don’t read aloud. Obviously, it may not always be practical to read aloud, but there is value in doing so from time to time. When we read to ourselves, our eyes are the primary avenue through which we take in the Word. If we would read aloud, then we would receive the Word through the eyes and ears! Because there is so much in the scripture about the importance of “hearing” the Word, I must conclude there is value in not only seeing it with our eyes, but also hearing God’s Word as we read it aloud! I believe our retention of God’s Word is greater when it comes to us through multiple senses.
Because there is so much in the scripture about the importance of “hearing” the Word, I must conclude there is value in not only seeing it with our eyes, but also hearing God’s Word as we read it aloud!
Blogger Keith Ferrin (www.keithferrin.com) pointed out in recent article another overlooked benefit to reading God’s Word aloud. Think about this: when we read in our mind, we can hear ourselves speaking in our head, but it’s usually in a monotone voice with very little variation. But if you were to hear Paul, for example, speaking his epistle aloud to the church, there would be a great deal of variation in the sound of his voice depending on the message. Imagine how Paul would sound if he were audibly speaking this passage to the Philippians:
- 3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now…7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart…8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-8 NLT)
Don’t you think that would sound different than the sound of this message of Paul to the Corinthians:
- 17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. (1 Cor. 11:17-22 KJV)
If we only read to ourselves in our head, in a dull, monotone voice, we will miss some of the impact of the message. By reading the Word of God aloud, we are more likely to speak it as the author intended. Reading the Word aloud can really bring the message alive and help us to fully grasp the emotions and heart of the author.
Let me make a few suggestions:
- Incorporate reading the Word of God aloud into your Bible Study regimen. Not only will it help with retention, but it will bring the message alive.
- Imagine what the author would sound like if he were speaking that word to his intended audience. Read the Word aloud with the same heart and emotion of the writer.
- Make a habit of listening to the Word of God on mp3 or some other digital form on your iPod, CD player or computer. Instead of always turing music on, play the Word of God as you are driving, working out, doing household chores or just relaxing before bed.
- Be faithful to your local church. It’s important to hear the Word of God preached and taught by the spiritual leaders that God has put into your life.
I hope you’ll implement this practice of reading the Word aloud. I feel certain it will enhance your study and will increase your retention of God’s Word!
I’d love for you to share your experiences, thoughts or comments on reading God’s Word aloud!