Have you ever struggled to say awake while reading your Bible? This week as we continue our series on experiencing God through the 5 senses He gave us, we’re talking about strategies for Hearing God’s Word and Hiding it in Your Heart.
When Seeing and Feeling Compete with Hearing
Windows open to the outside world. Books lined up neatly in rows on the shelf. Friends gathered around the table. My cell phone strategically positioned atop my Bible Study bag neatly placed on the floor by my chair. It may seem like the idyllic setting, but all these visual stimuli distracted me from hearing clearly what was being read. So, I closed my eyes in order to concentrate more fully on the words my leader read without the distraction of visual input.
In many ways, our senses work together to enhance our experiences here on earth as well as the way we experience God. Our sense of smell impacts the flavors of the foods we taste. Those who cannot hear have a hard time speaking. If they’ve never heard the vibrations made by our vocal cords, they can be hard to mimic or reproduce. If they can’t hear the noises they are making it’s hard to know if they are correct or not. When my boys were learning to talk, I looked directly at them and spoke very slowly, exaggerating the movements of my mouth. They used sight and sound to learn to speak. And now it’s hard to get them to stop!
But sometimes our other senses impede our ability to hear God properly. Sometimes what we see or feel in this world keeps us from hearing God properly.
Our sense of hearing is an extra-sensitive way to process information and experience God. So we need to be extra-intentional about how we’re hearing God’s Word.
Intentionally Hearing God’s Word
As the announcer came back over the airwaves, my son marveled that he knew all the words to the song that just played on the radio. He was surprised because he knew he had never read them or studied them. He could barely even remember ever hearing the song before. But he must have because yet he was able to sing along recalling most of the words effortlessly.
I bet you have done it, too. Learned a song without really trying, even if you didn’t get all the words right. For some reason, hearing music makes it easier to remember, even when you aren’t trying.
For me this was both a warning and an encouragement. As a warning, it was a wake-up call to be very careful and intentional about what I, and my family, listen to. Hello, K-Love and NewLife 27/7! As an encouragement, it makes it very clear that listening can help me and those I love learn.
The three most basic ways humans learn are visual, kinesthetic (sometimes called tactile), and auditory. By seeing, doing, or hearing. Auditory learners are most successful when they can listen to a lecture or someone reads to them. In an Article on Thought Co. about auditory learning styles, I read they are good at explaining ideas out loud and aren’t afraid to speak up in front of the class. They are often both gifted storytellers and good listeners who pick up on changes in verbal patterns and tone. They do well as participants of study groups. But they may lack recall or even become drowsy or drift off when reading silently.
If this sounds like you, perhaps you’ve felt discouraged or less-than because you struggled to read and learn from your Bible when others seemed to do it so effortlessly. But take heart. Perhaps reading quietly isn’t the best way for you to study Scripture. Here are 10 suggestions to enhance hearing God’s Word especially for auditory learners that might just help us all.
10 Suggestions for Hearing God’s Word
* Listen to an Audio Bible.
* Join a Bible Study Discussion Group.
* Read your own Bible out loud to yourself.
* Record yourself reading Bible passages and play them back.
* Take turns reading Scripture out loud with a friend.
* Listen to instrumental (no words) music while studying.
* Verbally paraphrase out loud what you’ve read by yourself or take turns with a friend.
* Close your eyes while you listen to or repeat passages for memorization.
* Create word associations with the text you’re studying.
* Listen to Scripture put to music, from an organization like The Verses Project.Maybe reading quietly isn't your best method for studying the Bible. Find 10 suggestions here to help you hide God's Word in your heart! #5senses #hearingGod Click To Tweet
Why Hearing God’s Word Matters
The Old Testament stories were passed down from generation to generation verbally. The Bible as we know it today didn’t exist then. Moses is thought to have written much of the first 5 books of the Bible and some of Psalms, but not everybody had access or the ability to read them. Moses instructs the priests to read the book of law (also known as the Pentateuch or the first 5 books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) in the hearing of all Israel (men, women, children, and even foreigners living amongst the Israelites) at least once every 7 years when they gathered for the Feast of Tabernacles. (Deuteronomy 31:10-13)
But in Deuteronomy 11:19 God speaks of His Word and exhorts parents to, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Does that seem like a lot of talking about Scripture?
Well, it is with good reason. We see a drifting away from God by the kings of both the nations of Israel and Judah and at one point it even seems that the book of law was misplaced for perhaps a period of 75 years. Which clearly means the people weren’t hearing the Word in a public assembly every seven years. So I wonder how likely they were to be talking about it as they sat at home or walked along the road, or as they lay down for bed, or got up in the mornings.
However, Moses (Deuteronomy 31), Ezra (Nehemiah 8), Joshua (Joshua 8:34), and Josiah (2 Kings 22) all ushered in periods of renewed peace and faithfulness with their reading of the Law out loud to the people. Throughout the Old Testament, reading the book of law produced remorse, repentance, revival, restoration, reform. God’s Word made things happen. And it still does today. It is performative.
When I look back over my own life, I can see the positive impact of intentionally studying God’s Word starkly contrasted by perilous periods when I chased after what was right in my own eyes. So, it is no wonder that in the New Testament, Paul encourages us to speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19). The more we hear the Word of God the more likely we are to remember it when we need it. Because, believe me, there won’t always be a Bible handy when you need Scripture. When what we see and feel makes us question God, we need to have the truth of His Word hidden in our hearts.
Hearing and Following
After our dad died, my sister and I had to sort through decades of photos and memorabilia in his home. Almost absentmindedly, I picked up a handful of trinkets from a cigar box on top of his dresser and rattled them around in my hand. From the other side of the room, my sister turned around and stared wide-eyed at my hand. When she raised her eyes and met mine we were both near tears. That was the sound of our father. It was almost as if he had walked into the room with us. A zippo, some change, and a few keys. He would shake those things inside his pocket all the time. It was a sound we remembered from our childhood.
God’s voice is like that, too.
Jesus said His sheep would hear His voice and follow Him. (John 10:27) Not surprisingly, the Greek word used for hear in this verse, is “phone,” which means a tone, noise, sound, voice. But what is fascinating is that if we trace related words back, we end up at “phos” which means to shine or make manifest, and figuratively light or even in some cases the Light. We learned earlier this year, that to shine for God’s glory implied elements of obedience, and so does following.
Good hearers hide God’s Word in their hearts. When we have read, heard, listened to, and studied Scripture, we will know it’s Jesus’ calling because we’ll recognize His Word in our hearts. And, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will follow Him because He is Truth.
“I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
Hearing God’s Word helps us hide it in our hearts. That’s how we experience Him in ways that reach below the surface. That’s how hearing God’s Word helps us become the masterpieces He created us to be.Hearing God's Word helps us hide it in our hearts. That’s how we experience Him in ways that reach below the surface. That's how hearing God's Word helps us become the masterpieces He created us to be. Click To Tweet
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope