An Unhurried Practice: Reading Scripture SlowlyJan 10, 2017
I want to tell you about an unhurried practice I've been engaging for a few months now. For my last birthday, I was given an especially beautiful present. One of the disciplines that has been an important part of my spiritual journey over the years has been reading and reflecting on scripture. For many years recently, I have read the Bible on digital devices like my iPhone, iPad or computer screen. I found myself wanting to read a physical Bible again, but my most recent NIV Bible was so well-loved that it had become separated from its cover and was a challenge to carry anywhere.
So, for my birthday I received an NIV Pitt Minion Red Letter Reference Bible bound with black calf-split leather. It was a beautiful fifty-fifth birthday present. I hope it will serve me well for the rest of my life. I love that new leather smell.
So, now to the practice. I enjoy reading extended passages of scripture. When I received the Bible, I decided to begin reading through the Bible chronologically. I found a plan, printed it on a single sheet of paper, and then folded it to live in the back of my new Bible. As I read, I’m keeping track there so I know where I’m at. I’m not committing to finish the whole year’s plan, but to engaging it as long as it proves life- and grace-giving.
I also really enjoy the unhurried practice of simply listening to scripture. Sometimes on our half-hour drive to church on Sunday mornings, Gem and I will listen to scripture in the car.
Here’s where the unhurried part comes in. I find that it helps me become more reflective and receptive to what I’m reading in the scriptures when I listen to a passage while reading along visually 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 contest. It’s not a race. I’m seeking to listen well to what God is saying.
So, I’ll listen to two or three chapters and let my heart slow down to reading at the pace of listening. I often can feel my heart and mind slowing as I engage this practice. There is space to notice the intersections 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 reading at full speed.
(In practical terms, you probably 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.)
How to engage this practice:
1. Set aside 15 minutes.
2. Get your Bible and your audio Bible device or website (see above).
3. Choose 2-3 chapters to which you will listen while you read along.
4. As you read and listen, let your heart and mind slow down. Listen with 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
• Write a few words in your journal about your experience.
We believe you’ll gain a great deal more from reading the scriptures more slowly.
CLICK HERE for the free resource on how to read scripture slowly.
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