Hearing and Reading the Word of God (The Spiritual Disciplines-Part 1)

The Bible is a powerful book. It converts those of every religion to a relationship with the true God, and it is the most important book for every Christian. Yet, often we Christians ignore it or devalue it. That’s a big mistake. Today we will be looking at two spiritual disciplines. Both of them surround the Bible.
Note: This is a really long post. You have permission to scan over it.

1. Hearing the Word of God

This does not only apply to hearing the exact words. It can also mean hearing sermons or teachings from the Bible. So we’ll look at both.

Hearing the Word

This does something different from simply reading it. It somehow makes things jump out to you more. Here are some simple ideas for incorporating this into your life.
 

-Listen while getting ready.

Sometimes on Sunday mornings I’ll pop open the Bible.is app and turn on the audio. What’s neat about this app is that it not only has Scripture recordings, it also has them dramatically read. A few weeks ago I listened to the book of Hebrews while getting ready for church. It didn’t take long for all thirteen chapters, and I got a better picture of the whole book in my head. Try it sometime! Turn on a Bible recording and listen while you get ready for your day.

-Listen on a walk.

Often when I’m stressed out it can do wonders to just take a walk around the block while listening to audio of the Bible. Sometimes I listen to podcasts as well. (Click here to see my top five favorite podcasts.)

-Read aloud.

Sit down with a big Bible and read it out loud! Things seem to be more interesting this way. Read it the way you would talk! Don’t read in a monotone, boring blur.

Hearing About the Word

Hearing preachers or teachers talk about a text can help reveal things to you that you wouldn’t have seen and give you a different perspective. Plus, it’s helpful, as I’m sure you know from what sermons or talks you’ve heard. Here are a few practical ideas on listening to more biblical talks.

-Take an evening.

One of these nights when you don’t have anything to do (when does that ever happen), maybe crack open your Bible and listen to a sermon on your iPhone or something. the benefit of this is that you can look up Scripture verses that the teacher mentions, and you can also take notes if you like. This is like getting a preacher to come give you a sermon!

-Put in your ear buds.

Are you washing dishes? Cleaning? Doing laundry? Mowing the lawn? Then this could be a great time to pop in some ear buds and listen to some good Bible preaching.
 

2. Reading the Word of God

Obviously, Christians need to read their Bible. I mean, would you endorse a movie that you’ve never seen? Would you claim to follow a man’s teachings if you only studied what he had to say now and then? You know you should read the Bible, but sometimes it’s difficult to do it. The same is true for me. Whether you’re just always short on time or you don’t think you get anything out of reading, I’ll try to help. But this is my struggle as well, I’m no expert on discipline.

-Get a plan.

Hop on one of those Bible apps or websites and get a plan! You’ll probably enjoy it. Start with a really short and easy one, then go on to bigger plans as you develop “finishing discipline.” After enough days of forcing yourself to read whether you feel like it or not, you will have a habit in place. Usually this happens quicker if you read at the same time each day. This will serve as a trigger to remind you to do it. Here is a short list of some good Bible plans.

-Use a nice Bible or Bible app.

YouVersion’s Bible app (the first to come up when searching “Bible” on the App Store) is nice, but lately I’ve started to lean towards the ESV Bible app, which recently (April, 2015) came out with an awesome update. In terms of “real” Bibles, I have a Reader’s Bible from Crossway that cuts out verse numbers, headings, footnotes, etcetera. All that’s left is the Word and small chapter numbers.

-Hunger for it.

Sometimes we just don’t want to read the Bible. Here are three cures for this that I’ve found:
  1. Read a chapter that surrounds a verse you really like. You’ll probably like it.
  2. Read a lot. Just read like ten chapters a day for a few days, and you might find yourself liking it more.
  3. Pray. I’m not saying this like a last resort. God can just give you a hunger for the Word. So pray. Maybe He will.

-Read in the morning.

Yes, this isn’t a biblical command, but most (if not all) of the great Christians of the past did their Bible reading early in the morning. No, you don’t have to wake up at 4am to do this. Try waking thirty minutes before you usually do and taking that time to read.

-Learn to depend on it.

When you’re anxious, or depressed, or just spiritually tired, run to the Word. The sweetest times of my life with Jesus have come from depending on Him and His Word in times of trouble. Run to your room, grab a Bible, some Christian books, and a notebook, and sit on your bed reading until you feel full again. If you have children at home that you can’t exactly just leave on their own, wait until night-time. Yes, we need sleep, but I have come to think that sleep is not as important as godliness and spiritual fulfillment.
I hope that these resources, tips, and ideas have helped you. Blessings on your walk with Christ!
Your turn! How do you read the Bible? (You can leave your answer in the comments or tweet to me @levipont.)
The next post will focus on studying the Word of God and memorizing it. That post will be here on Friday! (If the Lord wills) 
[Update: When I began writing about studying the Word, it seemed that a lot of the information I had could be applied to meditation on the Scripture. So the next post will focus completely on memorization, and after that I will discuss study and meditation together.]
 
Thank you for reading!
-LeviGrant
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