He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, January 30, 2017

Speed Reading God's Word

                 “I’ve been working on speed reading,” said my friend.  “It’s amazing how people can read a book in a day!  I want to be able to do that!”

                  “Seriously?” I asked.  “How can anyone who speed reads really understand what they are reading?  I’ve heard people say that “speed reading” really isn’t possible; at least not for comprehension.”

                  “But I’ve got to try,” countered my friend.  “There are so many books I want to read and I just don’t have the time.”

                  “Well, good luck with that,” I said.  “I’ve found the only way I can understand what I’m reading is to really “read it, one word at a time!”

                  Those who would take on the challenge of speed reading miss out on more than gleaning two or three words out of a paragraph can give them.  Getting the “gist” of a story is not nearly as engaging as reading to gain understanding of feelings and all the emotions that descriptive words can convey. It seems this technique would create more questions than answers in an informative article; and when reading for pleasure, that would not be “pleasure” since words are what forms the pictures in our minds.

                  Sometimes, even as Believers, because of our various, very busy lifestyles we “speed read” through God’s Word.  We scan the paragraphs (if it’s a devotion with an anecdote), or verses, looking for information we probably already know and feel that since we have the “gist” of what a verse or even several verses say, -- especially if we are familiar with the passage from our childhood SS class—we’ve got it! 

                  Very often, however, that is not the case.  Oh sure, we may know the verse, maybe even be able to recite it, but do we know, when we “speed read,” what the Lord is saying to us at that time?  God uses His Word to speak to us.  A specific passage doesn’t always tell us the same thing.  Depending on what is happening in our lives at that moment, the message may change, become clearer and set us in a direction we had never even considered before.

                  God’s Words are timeless.  There is so much to understand.  It isn’t possible to know it all!  Consider how many times you’ve heard a sermon on the same topic.  Perhaps it’s several verses from the Creation story, the Parables, the end times, Abraham leaving his home country, the Gospel and on and on!  Each time you hear it, you have the potential to glean something different.  That is partly because your faith walk (in theory) changes daily because you grow, but also because whomever is preaching the sermon can have a completely different perspective on the subject!

                  Even recently I have been listening to sermons on a subject I felt I knew reasonably well.  The perception of the Pastor has been completely different than I’ve ever heard before.  That causes me to stop, and often after the service dig deeper into God’s Word to understand.  We are even instructed by God to check to see that those who are teaching us are Biblical.  So sometimes, questions are good!

                  But my point is, speed reading is not a good method to gain understanding from any book.  But it’s especially a bad choice when the reading material is the Bible.  So, I encourage you to pick up God’s Love Letters and read them like you understand He wrote those letter to you; like you would if it had been your spouse who sent you a special message.  It’s the best reading you’ll ever do!