An Unhurried Practice: Reading Scripture Slowly

blog prayer praying praying scripture scripture Aug 24, 2022

Blog by Alan Fadling

One of the disciplines that has been an important part of my spiritual journey over the years is reading and reflecting on Scripture.  In recent years, I have read the Bible on digital devices like my iPhone, iPad, or computer screen, but at some point I found myself wanting to read a physical Bible again. However, the NIV Bible I was using at that time was so well-loved that the cover was falling off and it was a challenge to carry with me.


Then, for my fifty-fifth birthday I received an NIV Pitt Minion Red Letter Reference Bible bound with black calfskin leather. It was a beautiful gift for a lover of the Scriptures. It has served me well (and I love that warm new-leather smell).


Here’s what the practice of reading and reflecting on Scripture looks like for me. I enjoy reading extended passages of Scripture. When I first received that new Bible, I decided to begin reading through it chronologically. I found a plan, printed it on a single sheet of paper, and tucked it inside the back cover. As I read, I kept track on that little sheet so I always knew where I was. I didn’t commit to finishing the whole plan but to remaining engaged with it as long as it proved life-giving and grace-giving.


I also really enjoy the unhurried practice of simply listening to Scripture, and sometimes when I’m driving, I will listen to a passage using the Bible app on my iPhone. But I find that it helps me become more reflective and receptive to what I’m reading when I can listen to a passage and read along at the same time. I can read in my head much faster than I can read aloud (or listen to someone else read aloud), but I’m not in a Bible-reading race. I’m seeking to listen well to what God is saying.


So here’s where the unhurried part comes in. I’ll listen to a chapter or two and let myself slow down to read at the pace of listening. Often I can feel my heart and mind slowing as I engage this practice. There is space to notice the intersection between what I’m reading and what’s happening in my life. There is space to let the words soak in because I’m not speed-reading the text.


(You probably already know that there are easy ways to listen to the Bible on your smartphone using the YouVersion App or on your computer at the YouVersion or Bible Gateway websites.)


The practice:

  1. Set aside 15 minutes.
  2. Get your Bible and your audio Bible device or website (see above).
  3. Choose a chapter or two that you will listen to while following along.
  4. As you read and listen, let your heart and mind slow down. Listen with not only your ears and eyes but also with your heart and mind.
  5. When you have finished reading and listening to those chapters, take a few more moments to
    • be still in God’s presence,
    • pray in response to what you’ve heard, and/or
    • journal about your experience.


I hope you’ll experiment with this practice to see if you find it helpful. CLICK HERE for the free resource on how to read Scripture slowly.


For Reflection:

  • What about this practice sounds inviting to you?
  • What resistance, if any, rises in you?
  • Do you want to try on this practice? If so, when and where?


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash