4. Sensing God: Hearing the Voice of the Lord

4. Sensing God: Hearing the Voice of the Lord

4. Sensing God: Hearing the Voice of the Lord.

The Word is meant to be heard. Silent reading is alien to how the Hebrew Bible, or the New Testament for that matter, was meant to be communicated. But unfortunately, Christians have largely forgotten or ignored their Jewish roots. The common way in Christian circles is to take in the Bible silently, while that method was largely unknown in the Hebrew tradition. Speak the Scripture and you’ll notice the meanings intensify and find a home in your heart. Read the Word aloud and you’ll find it easier to remember and memorize. The Bible seems to come alive when read aloud. The words jump off the page and the inner ears take these words in. Speaking the Word inspires the imagination and makes it easier to flesh out its meaning. It seems that the physical act of speaking the Word incarnates the thoughts of the text. Speaking involves a person’s senses, which makes it easier to learn and understand. When the Word is heard, it’s as if the truth of Scripture has found a megaphone that reaches the soul. When reading the Word aloud, the door is opened to participate in Scripture, to take part in it.

Is it any wonder why the #1 podcast in the United States is simply a man reading Scripture aloud? That podcast is more popular than the NY Times or NPR or any other podcast on mass media. The Bible just seems to come alive when it is read aloud. In the gospels in particular, is there a sweeter or more powerful sound than hearing the words of Jesus spoken aloud? What a privilege to hear the Living Word in His own words. What an inspiration to listen to the thoughts of our Savior, to have our ears opened up to His eternal voice. We are daily assaulted by sounds we don’t want to hear. Here are words our spirit yearns for. We may not know what the voice of Jesus literally sounded like, but the next best thing is to listen to His words being spoken. Listening to Scripture, all of it, allows us to lean in and capture what’s on God’s mind. What could be better than that?

Of course, silent reading is eternally better than no reading at all. And so many times we are  not in a situation where it’s possible to read aloud. One can still hear the voice of the Lord in our spirit when reading the Word silently. Sometimes in our silent reading the Lord does truly speak, the words jump off the page quietly, and His voice registers loud and clear. But reading the Word aloud remains a unique spiritual experience. When given the chance,  one should try to read the Bible aloud. Participate in the Scripture verbally and welcome the voice of the Lord.

“The words I have spoken to you are Spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63).

“It is by hearing, reading and particularly meditating upon the Word of God that the Spirit becomes active in the renewing of the mind and heart.” (Peter Toon).

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:3-4).

“Blessed Lord, who hast caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark and inwardly digest them, that by patience, and comfort of thy Holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. ” (Anglican Book of Common Prayer, 1662).

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20).

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” (St. Jerome).

“I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed His ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from His commands, but have treasured His words more than daily food.” (Job 23:11-12).

“I hold the Bible in my hand in order to let my Master penetrate the depths of my being with His Word and thus facilitate inner moral and spiritual transformation.” (Peter Toon).

“Then Jesus to them, ‘When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45).

“Just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart, as Mary did. That is all. That is meditation.” (D. Bonhoeffer).

“You have never heard the Father’s voice or seen Him face to face, and you do not have His message in your hearts, because you do not believe Me – the One He sent to you. You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.”  (John 5:37-40).

“To meditate Christianly is to wait upon the Lord Jesus Christ, to feel His presence and the warmth of His love, to listen for His word, and to be ready to do His bidding.” (Peter Toon).

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

“Whatever method we choose we must come to sacred Scripture ready to be placed at God’s disposal and therefore keen to hear His Word. This keenness to hear may be compared with that of a mother for her baby. Before giving birth to her child she may have slept soundly through the loudest noise; but, after birth, the child has only to rustle in the crib and the mother will awake. Her keenness grows and matures in loving care and attention; and her care affects her senses so that she hears with new ears. In love of God and keenness to hear from Him we, too, will develop new, inner ears to pick up His quiet voice, speaking to us words of grace both in our reading of the sacred text and in our times of prayer.” (Peter Toon).

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

“God of truth, I ask that I may receive, so that my joy may be full. Meanwhile let my mind meditate on it, let my tongue speak of it, let my heart love it, let my mouth preach it, let my soul hunger for it, my flesh thirst for it, and my whole being desire it, until I enter into the joy of my Lord, who is God one and triune, blessed forever. Amen.”  (St. Anselm, Proslogion).

“Be strong and courageous. Be careful to obey all the teachings Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Teaching continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Joshua 1:7-8).