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Why Read the Bible Aloud as a Family?

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” —1 Timothy 4:13

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

As followers of Jesus, reading the Bible makes a difference in our lives. There is no question. But does it matter if Scripture is read aloud with others?

Over the years, our family has enjoyed listening to God’s Word together in various ways — at church, in our home, and in groups. My wife and I wanted Scripture to be central within our family.

We have been far from perfect in this discipline and invitation, but we have enjoyed the many times we have spent reading God’s Word and praying together as a family.

My daughter has now established a personal quiet time with God each morning before anyone in the house gets up, even though she has struggled with ADHD and reading comprehension. Growing up, she loved having us read the Bible to her, and at one point, she slept with her Bible in her arms at night.

That was a bit convicting to me. I remember asking myself, “Do I embrace and love God’s Word like that?”

No matter the text, reading experts believe retention and comprehension improves when reading material aloud. Did you know that a mother’s voice is known to release the bonding hormone oxytocin and lower cortisol stress levels? And that a dad leading his family spiritually results in a higher likelihood of a retained faith in his children as they become adults? Speaking text out loud embeds it in long-term memory — all the better when talking about the Bible. So, reading Scripture in a public setting makes sense.

9 Reasons why reading the Bible aloud together encourages spiritual growth:

  1. The Bible was birthed out of community. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5). The Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — demonstrate the community we are created for.
  1. Jesus did it. When attending synagogue on the Sabbath, Jesus modeled the public reading of Scripture for us in Luke 4 — inspiring and challenging those listening.
  1. God speaks through His Word. Anytime the Bible is read, the voice of God comes alive in our midst. As people who follow Jesus, everything we do — prayer, worship, teaching, study, service, ritual — springs from its pages. From there, we learn who God is and who He says we are. Shared experience with His Word refines our thinking and works to purify our hearts.

Spiritual growth requires its nourishment

  1. The Bible is bread for our souls. When tempted in the wilderness by the devil, Jesus showed us the life-sustaining power of Scripture, responding: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
  1. As a flock, believers need direction. In John 10:27, Jesus notably describes his people as those who know and walk after Him. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Through Scripture and the still small voice of His Holy Spirit, the Lord directs us on a path through life’s pastures and valleys. Regularly listening to God’s Word in community, we travel this road with others. The discernment and wisdom of our herd mates work in favor of our spiritual growth.

Together, these leverage opportunities for spiritual growth.

  1. Together, the Word changes us. Research proves that lasting spiritual transformation occurs in the presence of two primary factors: God’s Word and community. As we listen and learn together from the Bible, God’s authority grows in our lives and impacts those around us. Listening to Scripture being read promotes social and emotional growth between people — building community bonds and shared experiences.
  1. Hearing Scripture provides discernment and wisdom.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12

  1. Not everyone can read. There are 773 million illiterate adults around the globe. Old and New Testament writings were passed in the oral tradition for much of history. In Old Testament times, experts estimate that approximately 95% of Jews in Jesus’ day believed in God and tried to follow the Old Testament, but only 5% could read. Such a small percentage of people could read that the public reading of Scripture was not optional but essential. All kinds of learners — auditory, visual, and kinesthetic — benefit from listening together.
  1. Some people have limited access. Historically, until Gutenberg introduced the commercial printing press in 1454, Bibles weren’t readily available to ordinary folk. The public proclamation of Scripture continues to be essential.

One in every five people does not have a copy of the Bible in their language.

Listening to the Word of God read aloud gives access to all — regardless of reading ability or socio-economic level.

  1. Listening to the Bible with others expands our spiritual horizons. Reading it transfers information, “transports” us into a scene, and sparks rich conversation among hearers.

Publishers print over five billion copies of the Bible in more than 2400 languages. Reading Scripture aloud matters for countless reasons. Here are some of our favorite resources for you to try with your family:

2 Kings 23-2 Kings 25, Psalm 3-4

The Character of Daniel: Scene 1/Daniel and His Friends Exiled

No matter what age, reading the Bible aloud matters to our relationship with God and one another. The fun, creative stories of how families engage God’s Word bring Scripture to life and inspire growth!

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