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Adam Gabriel Cavalier currently serves as cross-cultural worker in southeast Asia. He holds a Masters of Theology (ThM) in pastoral ministries from Dallas Theological Seminary. His ministry focus is college students and young professionals, and he has a deep passion for historical theology. His blog, www.fromcajuntoasian.blogspot.com, is filled with his thoughts on what he’s reading to what’s current in culture, society, and theology alike.

The Letter to the Hebrews begins off reminding us of a stunning and remarkable fact – God spoke. And not only has God spoken, but he has done so “at many times, and in many ways.” And in these last days, he has spoken by a new and infinitely greater way of speaking. He has spoken by His Son.

Have you heard this Word from God? Now, you might have read this Word, but how often – if at all – have you heard it?

Ever since I was a new believer, the printed Bible has rightly been emphasized as God’s Word.  The immeasurable value of reading a physical, paper copy will always be there – as it rightly should. There are obvious benefits to a physical copy (such as, the fact that you can read as fast or as slow as you want), but have we devalued the intake of Scripture via auditory means?

I think it goes without saying, the majority of believers interact with their Bibles through the reading of a physical, paper copy. However, my question is this – how many Christians even own an audio Bible? Imagine if the equation was flipped. What if the church primarily listened to the reading of Scripture? Would the church’s spiritual vitality be any less diminished?

I believe we should value the reading of God’s Word, but we should also value the listening of Scripture being read aloud. I think this is a highly neglected and yet an equally valid means of valuing God’s Word in your life.

Consider that for the majority of church history (and today, in fact), people simply didn’t have nice, leather-bound copies of the entirety of Scripture to go, take home, and read at their own leisure. They listened to it in the midst of congregational worship. One person would have a copy and read it aloud to multiple people. This is certainly a legitimate means of “reading” the Word.

As I was recently surfing through some of my regular websites, I saw a great deal on an audio Bible of my favorite translation. I decided to go ahead and get it. Little did I know that this simple decision would revolutionize my walk with the Lord. An audio Bible can be used in ways that I never really imagined. I am able to hear a Word from God almost whenever I want. It redeems daily mundane activities like washing the dishes, folding laundry, and commuting to work. I was shocked when I found how impacting it could be simply by listening.

For example, the longest chapter in the Bible (Psalm 119) takes only about sixteen-and-a-half minutes to listen to. If your commute is anything like the national average (according to the US Census Bureau it is about 25 minutes one-way), you could easily listen to the entire psalm in a single, one-way commute. If you listen with a humble and open heart, I assure you that your appreciation and love for God’s Word will dramatically increase if you simply listen.

Also for another example, one could easily listen to the Book of Hebrews in a day’s commute to and from work (about 44 minutes to listen to). And it only takes about 1 hour to listen to the Book of Romans. One could complete the entire Pentateuch in slightly over 3 weeks (assuming a 5-day work week commute). That would put you almost 2 months ahead of most normal yearly reading plans that finish the Pentateuch in early March!

Throughout this process, I have been able to think about things in a fresh way that I had never before considered simply by hearing it spoken. New truths – that were there all along – were able to hit me in a way like never before because I simply wasn’t listening.

For an added encouragement to appreciate the value of listening to God’s Word, think about this – some people are only capable of listening. Some people are visually impaired and some elderly are no longer capable of reading a printed version for long periods of time (there are large print and Braille bibles, but it is far easier to listen to the spoken word for such persons). And finally, there are many adults around the world that simply cannot read.

But for most of us reading this post, there may be a tendency to devalue the Word spoken to us. It requires dependency on the part of the listener. Also, there are likely many people in the church who best learn through auditory means that have completely neglected this style as a legitimate means.

The point is this: Romans 10:17 reads, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” My encouragement to everyone is to not neglect reading God’s Word (in a physical, paper copy), but in addition, actively listen to Scripture. It will bless your life in countless ways – just like reading God’s Word can.


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13 thoughts on “How to Hear a Word from God”

  1. Amen! We couldn’t agree more, Adam. For those who cannot read – HALF of the world – audio (the spoken word) is their only alternative. We stand with you by providing free access to God’s Word in over 700 languages. We even offer access via video to the Deaf on the Deaf Bible.is app!

    Technology makes reaching the world with God’s Word a very real possibility. Until all have heard!

    Streaming: http://www.faithcomesbyhearing.com/features/link-to-us
    Bible.is: http://www.Bible.is
    Download: http://www.bible.is/audiodownloader
    Deaf Bible.is: http://www.bible.is/deaf

  2. Johann says:

    I apologise for the directness, but this is simply not true. God very rarely speaks audibly in scripture. He certainly did not speak audibly in the creation of the universe (obviously because no auditory medium existed yet, and more so because Genesis is being analogical). He did not speak audibly in the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection, which Hebrews refers to. And ultimately, the apostolic view of scripture was as the very words of God breathed out. Paul himself ultimately wrote Romans 10:17 down on paper. Deaf people also attend our church meetings. Are they somehow incapable of faith because they haven’t heard the message audibly? Of course not.

    1. Adam C says:

      Johann, thanks for taking the time to comment on the post. Unfortunately, it seems as though you didn’t read it fully. I never once said that deaf people can’t have saving faith because they haven’t heard the Bible audibly (for one example, did you see that I mention Braille Bibles?) I think you made a categorical mistake. I’m not talking about God speaking audibly in the context of Scripture. My post is about Scripture being communicated through auditory means. I’m not sure what you are objecting to.

      1. David says:

        I think Johann may have been expecting the topic to go a different direction based off of the title “how to hear a word from God.” Sounded like you were going to discuss something like “how to know God is talking to you” or something to that affect.
        But anyway, Great article. I recently started listening to the Bible on Grooveshark.com while at work and it really is funny how you can get one thing reading the Bible but “hear” something in a whole new way when listening. I think both are crucial, but definitely there is something to listening to God’s Word that is special. Maybe it’s special because we’re so used to having our nose in something. When you sit and read, you dig, you re-read, you flip back and forth, you read notes, you stop, make mental notes, and move on when you feel like it. When you’re listening, you just let God’s Word speak and you just listen. I think sometimes when we read, we take authority over the Word in a sense. When we listen, it takes authority over us and we just listen. It also helps us get the context. Rather than stopping and concluding something about a verse before getting the whole context, when we listen, we are forced to hear the whole at once, so its easier to get the bigger picture because we aren’t stopping and thinking about a single verse, but we’re listening to the whole. Just a couple thoughts that may or may not be accurate.

        1. Adam C says:

          Thanks, David. That’s such an encouraging word. I can agree and relate with a lot of those same things you mentioned.

          1. Beth V. says:

            Thank you Adam, for such a good post. I also identify w/ David’s post above. I have a Hebrew /Greek Key Study Bible, which I love, but I really find it nearly irresistible to always be looking things up in the lexicons and other study aids.

            It’s a very good idea to ‘hear’ the Word, instead of always ‘excavating’ the Word. ;) Peace. Beth

  3. Ryan V says:

    Hi Adam,

    This was a wonderfully encouraging post! I often go to sleep listening to an audio bible and find it very helpful. You’ve done a wonderful service by reminding folk that 15 minutes of quiet reading time is not the only way to have God engage you through His Word. And as you intimate, this isn’t possible for a lot of people!

    How quick we are to presume that common devotional practices are somehow normative. Only for the last few hundred years has a ‘quiet time’ with an open bible even been possible! Indeed it would’ve been foreign even to the Apostle’s. We must hearken back to the sufficiency of scripture-remembering that God commands we meditate on his Word (not simply read it for fifteen minutes in the morning), and moreover that listening to God’s Word is a great way to do this! Thanks for reminding us of that.

  4. Jeanne P says:

    I completely agree with this post and was going to get on here and tell you all about “Faith Comes By Hearing,” but I see they have already commented with their info. Listening to God’s Word is a blessing that I wish more would experience. I’ve even started adding easy little melodies to Scripture so I can sing them and meditate on them all day, while at the same time hiding His precious Words in my heart.

  5. Adam C says:

    Thanks everyone for the supportive comments. I hope this moves us all the press more deeply into God’s Word so that we can experience His presence to bless in new ways.

  6. Paul says:

    There is a project called “faith comes by hearing” (Bible Society) that put the Bible onto audio many years ago. It encouraged people to tune in as they commuted. A very useful tool. Perhaps fewer online sermons and more online Bible should be listened to?

  7. lisa says:

    Great post! I have been tremendously blessed by my ESV Online’s “listen” feature. I actually find that I pay attention, comprehend, and retain better when I read along AS the speaker is reading the passage. That way I’m getting both the visual input AND the auditory. It sticks better for me that way. But it is also wonderful to be able to listen while doing other things, as you mentioned, like driving and chores.
    Another great way to listen to, and memorize, scripture is through scripture memory songs. My pastor, Mark Altrogge, has produced a wonderful series of scripture memory albums called Hide the Word. I highly recommend them!
    http://www.forevergratefulmusic.com/

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