First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
One of the things I hear quite frequently from various people is that they read the Scriptures faithfully, yet they never seem to be able to retain anything of what they have read. They sit down and read the Psalms, or the Prophets, or the letters of Paul, or even the Gospels; and the next day they do not remember a thing they have read. To be honest, I have the same problem; I read something, and then completely forget about it.
And we ask ourselves how people of old could have memorized large portions of Scripture, and retained so much of what they read.
Now to be sure, there are some aspects related to learning styles and culture that are out of our control entirely. Why do you need to memorize things, when you have it all on your phones? Why do I need to retain things, when I have easy access to more books than Martin Luther or CFW Walther ever did?
But there is still something to be said for the memorization and retention that we long for. It gets a little old when you have to constantly look up the same thing over and over; it gets frustrating when someone asks you a question and you need to run and get a book, or search for an app. And in an age of persecution, there may very well come a day when all you have of the faith is what you have memorized.
Oddly enough, the solution to our problem is found in the Scriptures themselves.
Did you notice no one ever is mentioned as sitting in a room, reading the Scriptures quietly to themselves? This is sort of a modern concept made feasible by everyone having their own copy of the Bible.
What you notice in the Bible however is that people are constantly gathering to hear the Word read in their midst, or they are reading the words of the Scriptures out loud.
We learn differently when things are verbalized. We remember more when things are spoken to us, than when we read things off of a page.
How can this be? Shouldn’t the information all be the same no matter how we receive it?
Not quite. When you verbally speak a passage of Scripture, you are not only receiving it once, rather you are receiving it twice – once when you read the words off the page, and again when your ears hear you speak the words. This is opposed to reading a passage silently to yourself, and thereby only receiving it once.
Now to be honest, this is going to take some getting used to; and not every place where you sit down to read the Scriptures may be ideal for reading them out loud. But it is worth a try. Try reading a Psalm out loud each morning, and see if it sticks with you throughout the day. Try reading your devotion out loud and see if you remember it the next day. Try praying out loud and see if it affects how you pray.
This may sound like a silly idea, but is it? One of the problems with texting is that we text things that we would never say out loud. Do we do the same with the Scriptures? Do we read things that we would never say out loud?
Reading aloud the Scriptures is part of taking them to heart, as you are making God’s words your words. You are taking the words spoken by the prophets and apostles of old, and speaking them for yourself, thus making teachings on life, death, marriage, Baptism, Lord’s Supper, and absolution your own words.
Read aloud the Scriptures, you may be surprised what you hear, and even more surprised by how much more you retain.