5 unlikely benefits of listening to the Bible

by | Sep 5, 2014 | Most Popular | 13 comments

Several months ago, I completely re-engineered my Bible reading plan. One of the changes I implemented is that instead of just reading my Bible, I started listening to it as well. I have the YouVersion app installed on my Kindle, so whenever it’s time to read, I pull up the day’s passage, press the Play icon, and follow along as Mr. Narrator reads to me.

I think it’s important to change things up every now and then to avoid falling into a meaningless routine, and this change has breathed new life into my quiet times! If you’ve ever considered listening to the Bible instead of (or in addition to) reading it, I would highly recommend it! After doing so for several months, I’m sold on the benefits!

1. It lets someone else pronounce the hard words!

Don’t get me wrong. I like challenging my lips to untwist the name “Hazarmaveth” as much as the next guy, but witnessing someone else wrestle with ancient Hebrew baby names is so much more fun! So go ahead, Narrator. Tell me about the ancestors of Joktan while I sit here and demand that my lips do nothing more than sip my quiet time cup o’ java. After all, you make it sound so easy! “Joktan was the ancestor of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were descendants of Joktan” (Gen. 10:26-29 NLT).

2. You get awesome “pay attention” music.

It happens all the time in church. The preacher begins bringing his message to a close when suddenly decision music begins playing softly in the background like a heavenly elevator soundtrack. You didn’t even notice the worship ninjas sneak onstage and grab their instruments, but there they are, engineering the atmosphere for a spiritual climax with their keyboards and guitars.

When you listen to the Bible, worship ninjas are built right in. Just when you least expect it, music begins playing on top of the narration and you know one of two things is happening. Either something significant is going on, like God is about to make a covenant that will shape the entire Old Testament, or the narrator is about to read a popular passage, like Psalm 8 or Psalm 23. Either way, your auditory reflexes have been triggered. It’s pay attention time.

3. The voices. Oh, the voices.

I don’t know who showed up late to work the day the voice for Satan was cast, but I have to say that the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4 is much more realistic because of him. Multiple voices bring depth to the listening experience and make certain stories easier to follow.

You should know, however, that this is where the world is your holy oyster. Since I’m currently listening to the New Living Translation, the voices are minimal and it’s mostly single-narration and easy listening. It’s perfect for what I want right now. But if you believe (as I do) that a British accent sounds more spiritual, you can choose a Max McLean narration. Or if you’re a sci-fi fan, you can even have a Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) narration. But if you really want the holy grail of Bible listening experiences, choose a Bible dramatization instead of a narration. That’s where you’ll get multiple voices, full orchestration, and the most dramatic sound effects.

4. You know ahead of time if you have the time.

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses, and it takes exactly 14 minutes and 52 seconds to listen to the whole thing. Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter of the Bible with just two verses, and it takes exactly 16 seconds to listen to the whole thing. Fifteen minutes vs. 16 seconds. That kind of information is extremely helpful to know ahead of time before you commit to read an entire chapter, and with the audio Bible, you know ahead of time if you have the time.

Each chapter is its own audio track, so the moment you press the Play icon, you can see how long the track is going to last. Can you make a 2:32-minute commitment to Colossians 4 during a bathroom break at work? Sure! No sweat! But get mixed up with the likes of Genesis 24 at 9:27 minutes and your coworkers are going to wonder if you have stomach problems.

One of the main reasons why people don’t read their Bibles more often is because they think they don’t have time. But the truth is, the reason they don’t think they have the time is because they don’t really know how much time it takes. When you begin to see that the Bible doesn’t take hours to read – that it really just takes 3 minutes here, 7 minutes there – you discover that you do have the time after all.

5. Your eyes and your ears are engaged. It’s a day dream’s worst nightmare.

I love to read, but even my mind wanders sometimes. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for people to whom reading does not come easily. Thankfully, study after study shows what God’s Word has already taught us: that there is power in listening. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 NKJV).

Listening is more passive than reading, so it takes less brain power. And when the burden on your braid to read and comprehend words is lifted by your ears, you have more brain power to engage your imagination. And when your imagination is engaged, that’s when God’s Word really sinks in. So say good bye to mental distractions! Your grocery list has interrupted your quiet time for the last time!

Have you ever listened to the Bible? What benefits did you experience?

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  1. WiffytoJ

    My girls aren’t super strong readers yet and so I encourage them to listen to their Bible passages and then read along with them.
    I’ve done it a few times and I really enjoy it as well. If I’m not reading along with it, my mind will still wander so I follow along. We do the M’Cheyne reading plans so we can usually listen together because we are reading some of the same passages. I read the 4 passages and my girls read the 2. I was amazed when I started doing the M’Cheyne plan that it doesn’t take a super long time. I used to think I didn’t have time to do daily devotions and then I realized that I can easily read 4 chapters (or listen and follow along) in just 30 minutes. It just disciplining myself to get up 30 min earlier. 🙂 But if I have time to check emails or play on the computer, I have time for devotions.
    Thanks for the encouraging post!

  2. Patsy Riggs

    My husband and I have listened to the Bible for years. We started listening when our son gave us the entire King James Version on cassette tape read by Max McLean. We were traveling quite a bit and that was our travel music. We were involved with Baptist Disaster Relief as Chaplains/Assessors/Operations. You would be surprised how quickly driving to a site can go when listening to the Bible. Later another son gave us the Bible on CD. James Earl Jones narrating. We were not traveling very much (failing health) so we keep the CD player in the dining room and listen while dining. My husband now is a Volunteer Chaplain’s Assistant at the local prison, so having the recorded Bible to listen to gives him the correct pronunciation of difficult names. I often listen before going to bed at night, makes for a very restful sleep. As noted in your article, the mind can conjure the scenes and makes the Bible come alive. Thank you for this article. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoy receiving your Front Porch Friday by email. Thank you for your work and for loving the Lord enough to pass your experiences and thoughts to us.

  3. Susan Purcell

    I got a i-bible a few months ago. I love it. I can listen to it throughout the day, or, one of my favorite times to listen to it is as I am falling asleep. I have noticed that when I hear a verse now, I KNOW the verse and also some of the verses following. It is amazing. I LOVE being able to say the verses with them!!

  4. Emily E. Ryan

    I remember when I bought the Bible on CD and it cost around $50, I think. I can’t believe that it is FREE now through various digital media! Every time I go through the Bible, I try to do it differently, somehow. I’m already thinking ahead to next time – I may try an audio dramatization after this!

    • Valencia Hargrave

      Is that a typo in the last paragraph when you say “and when the burden on your BRAID to read and comprehend words is lifted by your ears, you have more brain power to engage your imagination?”

      • Emily Ryan

        Why yes. Yes it is a typo! 🙂 Thanks! I’ll correct it!

  5. Mst

    i have heard ppl say listening to it is not the same as reading it. I beg to differ. God said his word will not return void. We can play it and listen to it more than read it. I can play it all day in house while there and not there. Turn it up or down, I can play it in car, or at work and turn it down in purse but the word is still going forth because there’s more to it Than understanding it, it gets in our spirit, the bible says Angels hearken unto the voice of Gods word. Because it’s spiritual, no matter how low or loud, demons can hear it which is why I love to play it while asleep. You can’t go wrong Keeping it going 24 hours a day. There are times I thought it was useless because I played constantly and still seemed to struggle, but I’m now realising, again, that Gods word did not return void, things could have been worse if I wasn’t playing it, so I plan to go spend rest of my life playing it daily in house, until Jesus comes.

    • Michelle S.

      I like that. I listen a lot, but sometimes feel guilty falling asleep to it. Still, it feels good even tho I’m asleep I feel the Word must be feeding my spirit.

  6. Mst

    Oh and you can listen to it continuous play on bible gateway, I do on phone. It goes from genesis to revelation then starts over, only stops when you want it to. I listen to King James Version dramatised or max mcclean. Not just any voice. But been listening to dramatised for years. And never had nightmares or anything. Can’t trust all voices.

  7. jonathan medina

    i like to read it better it goes into my spirit better

  8. Sheryle Frederic

    Oh, my goodness…off to share at a Women’s Retreat today and this article was in my box this am!! I’ve just printed it out to share with the women!! The Lord is sooooo timely because my subject at the retreat is using all the avenues to get the word into your heart, life; falling in love with the Word of God and then planning and implementing how you will go about that. (Prob.4:20-21!! Bless you, Girlfriend!!

  9. Diane

    I just want to listen to the whole bible all night. Not for just hour.

  10. Diane

    I just want to listen to the bible all night. Not just for a hour.


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