Reading the Bible Aloud

During January, many Christians think about their spiritual lives and make resolutions to read the Word of God more faithfully each day. Some of that reading is done by reading the "whole of the Word" through a systematic read-the-Bible-through plan. This gives the reader a broad view of the biblical message. The simplest way to read the Bible in one year is to read two chapters from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament each day. By the end of the year, you will have read through all sixty-six books. Another way to read the Bible is in "small bites" by using a devotional booklet or tablet app like Our Daily Bread. This shorter plan gives us a manageable, daily portion of nourishment in the Word. Both reading plans are good and balanced. They give us daily exposure to the inspiration and instruction of God's Holy Word.

One resolution you may not often hear is the plan in the New Year to read the Bible... aloud! Yes! There is incredible value in what is called communal reading of the Bible. I have experienced this personally and corporately for some years now. Privately, I have made a practice of reading my weekly message and Sunday School lessons out-loud. At first, I was embarrassed to have anyone hearing me read out-loud and I would review the selected text for the week in hushed tones and whispers so as not to invite questions from family members at home or staff members at church who might be curious about hearing me speaking aloud to myself with no one else present in the room. I soon got over being self-conscious about this reading.

I found benefit reading the Bible with my voice. It was uncanny how I would "hear" a truth that I had missed by simply reading silently. I was surprised by these insights and thoughts and mistakenly thought that maybe I was just being too careless in hurriedly reviewing the text.  However, as I continued this exercise, I saw something deeper in the practice. It was as if God was speaking to me at another level... audibly.

Now, in truth, I have never had God speak to me through His mighty, audible voice like He must have spoken when the world was created or when he would speak to the prophets of old. But, as I read the Bible to myself, audibly, I hear Him "speaking" in new ways. Words that I had just passed over before came to life with meaning I had not "heard" in my silent reading. This was both refreshing and insightful as I began practicing "audibles" during my private study.

I began to study online the subject of reading the Bible aloud and discovered that there has been considerable research conducted on the subject of communal reading. Notably, the Bible itself instructs us to "devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture" (1 Timothy 4:13). Dr. Brian J. Wright, author and blogger, who is an adjunct professor at the Baptist seminary in New Orleans, has written extensively how the practice of communal reading dates back to the first century. Dr. Wright says that Justin Martyr, an early church leader, was instructing believers during that period to engage in the communal reading of the apostle's memoirs and prophetic writings on the Lord's Day.

I started practicing communal reading during my Wednesday night Bible studies at our church a couple of years back. Our regular attenders seemed to readily take to the exercise and enjoyed it. In recent months, I have been leading our Auditorium Sunday School Class in the same practice. Not everyone chooses to participate, but those that do have sat up straighter and spoken out louder with more authority and respect as they have joined in the reading. I am now convinced more than ever that this simple engagement through communal reading of the Word is blessing both study groups. It involves us and inspires us to hear the Bible passage read with our own voices.

During this New Year, I have plans to introduce communal reading to a small group of neighborhood friends that I relate to in a peer-mentoring way. I encourage you to resolve to read the Bible more out-loud in 2019 and try to involve your friends in this practice as well.  I think you will discover as you do, hidden truths and insights that you have not "heard" before. 

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

Comments

  1. A friend correctly pointed out that a true communal reading would include more than one person reading aloud. I answered tongue-in-cheek that he might consider the proverbial "me, myself and I" for the necessary plurality. :) And then commented on a more serious note... We do have the audience of the Triune God too!

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  2. Great article! The Bible is a Book of Life and we need to read it as though it is more that just printed words. The meaning will jump out at us when we do that, combined with understanding the lesson that is being given to us. We need to understand the culture behind the story, and put ourselves back in Biblical times so that we don't pull incorrect meanings out of what we read. The Word of Life has POWER!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, dear friend, for your passion for the Word and the meaningful insights you bring to our mid-week Bible studies!

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