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The Spoken Word, the Living Voice

This is the seventh entry in a series of posts by Brian Hardin, author and founder of Daily Audio Bible. In his previous essay, Lectio Divina, Brian considered the ancient Christian practice of lectio divina, “divine reading.” Here’s his latest essay, drawn from Brian’s book Passages: How Reading the Bible in a Year Will Change Everything for You.

Words spoken aloud are some of the most common but also most intriguing things in human experience. They form in our hearts and develop like film in the darkroom of our minds. We transfer them to our tongues, squeeze them by our cheeks, and slide them across our lips. They construct a living narrative and in the process set the tone and pace of life.

As the Bible developed over time and eventually transitioned from oral tradition to the written word, I have to wonder if something was lost. Is it possible that we now consider reading the Bible (silently) more important than experiencing the Bible as a spoken narrative, a living word? If so, what might we be missing?

Our interaction with Scripture can be expressed in many ways, and one of those ways is reading the Bible aloud. Scripture itself is full of instances that illustrate the power of what is spoken aloud, whether the words come from the mouth of God or the mouths of human beings. In Genesis 1, God speaks the world into existence. When Jesus announced his ministry and the reason he had come, he chose to do it while reading the Bible aloud (Luke 4). The gospel of John explains beautifully that the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us in the person of Jesus (John 1:1 – 14). Hebrews 12 describes how the sound of God’s voice shakes the earth and the heavens.

We could go on and on; the Bible demonstrates a clear precedent for interacting with the Word of God using our living voices (Proverbs 10:11; 18:21; Romans 10:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:18). So why do we generally choose to interact with the Bible only in silence?

I do not mean to diminish the power of the written word; in no way do I feel that quiet contemplation of the Word of God is a secondary approach to Scripture. But I do feel we are missing out if we limit our interaction with the Bible to silent reading. And I am convinced that the benefits of reading the Bible out loud and hearing it read aloud are more substantial than we realize.

I have read the Bible aloud in the company of others every day for over six years through the Daily Audio Bible, and the experience has changed my outlook on just about everything. I attribute these changes to the power of God’s Word, but I believe firmly that the impact has been greatly magnified by reading it aloud. Speaking it myself and hearing it spoken by others makes God’s Word something that has been declared as true rather than something yet to be considered and decided on.

I am utterly convinced that giving the Word of God a living voice is giving God a voice. These are his living words, the ones that tell the great story of God among us. As we speak them, we give them power in our lives. As your view of the Bible begins to transition from seeing it as a sacred object to embracing it as a beloved friend, give it voice. Read it aloud. Listen to it being read. Read it together with others..

If we give ear to the words of life, in the listening we will hear the voice of our heavenly Father as he speaks directly to our hearts.

Watch for the next post in this series later this month! In the meantime, you can read more of Brian’s writing in Passages, or follow his work at Daily Audio Bible. You can keep up with him each day at his blog, Twitter feed, or Facebook or G+ pages.

Filed under Passages by Brian Hardin