Having Ears, Do You Not Hear?

An ancient practice helps us stop merely studying the Bible and start listening to it in a way that transforms us.

Listening to the Bible is difficult. For instance, we form "Bible study groups." When you put the word study in the name, people think the goal is to master information. So they think the Bible is something you try to understand and explain. That's a huge barrier.

So I call them "conversation groups." We have conversations with the Bible. We take a passage and listen to it; different people read it in different voices and we try to hear the poetry of the language, the sounds, and the message. I take notes as people share, and then after an hour I bring out some commentaries. I show them that we uncovered virtually everything the commentary said just through our conversation. I try to break the stronghold that academic scholarship has over us. We don't trust ourselves to encounter God's Word.

You cannot read a poem quickly. There's too much going on there—rhythms and alliterations. You have to read poetry slow, slow, slow to absorb it all. That's how I began reading and praying psalms, because I realized they were poems.

The first time you read a poem, you usually don't understand it. You've got to read it ten times or more. You've got to listen to it. That's just like the four steps of lectio divina (see below). The four steps are not sequential. They're more like a spiral staircase. You keep going around and around, coming back to this step and over to that one. It's fluid.

There's nothing terribly difficult in the Bible—at least in a technical way. The Bible is written in street language, common language. Most of it was oral and spoken to illiterate people. They were the first ones to receive it. So when we make everything academic, we lose something.

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Bible; Bible Study; Bible Study and Meditation; Discipline; God's Word; Spiritual disciplines
Today's Christian Woman, July , 2010
Posted July 1, 2010

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