Use all of the weapons the Lord
has given you
Have you ever gotten a letter from someone you love? It’s always exciting and, after reading it, you can’t wait to talk to the person who sent it. Isn’t it a distinct feeling, though, when that person calls you and you hear his or her voice?
This is how our relationship with God should be. We read the Bible, his love letter to us, and joyful prayer is our response. Hearing his Word audibly, though, is different. It’s not better nor worse than reading, but it does give us a distinct feeling.
If you have the option to do both (you have access to the written and audio Bible in your language, you know how to read, you aren’t deaf or blind, etc.), I think you’re missing out if you only read or only listen.
The Lord has blessed his people by choosing to communicate with us in multiple ways, and we should take advantage of all the weapons available as we fight for holiness.
One of the best ways that modern technology has made this possible is through audio Bibles. They’ve been an incredible help to me in my devotional times, particularly this year.
Here are 8 ways to incorporate them into your own quiet time. If you need tips on how to set up a devotional routine, check out this post.
1. Start with the YouVersion app
Don’t just go out and buy an audio Bible and download it to your phone, hoping that you like it. Check out YouVersion first because it has lots of *free* audio Bibles in multiple languages!
This will help you get a feel for the different audio styles. There are some that are dramatized with background music, some with different accents, etc.
Not every translation has the audio available and you can’t use it offline, but this is a fantastic option. Once you choose the one that you like, you can head over to Audible or Christian Audio to buy it for offline use.
Dwell – a new take on audio Bibles
Also, there’s a new paid subscription app called Dwell. It offers a completely new audio experience. I’ve just started using it this year and it has left me totally impressed!
Dwell has Scripture playlists for biblical books, such as “The Gospel of John in 30 Days”, and also for famous stories, like “Daniel and the Lion’s Den”. It’s the best audio Bible experience I’ve had and I think it’s well worth the price (no, I’m not an affiliate).
2. Mix it up with both reading and listening
Some days I read the Bible. Other days I just listen to it. I may read in the morning and listen to the same or different text in the evening. Still other times I immediately listen after reading or vice versa.
I’ve also found it really helpful to listen to the chapter or whole book first to get the context and then read the section that I want to focus on that day.
The point is, there are a ton of ways to incorporate both reading and listening in your daily quiet time. Mix it up to get more out of your devotionals.
3. Listen to a thought-for-thought translation. Read a literal one.
Some may disagree with me here, but this is one of the biggest ways that audio Bibles have helped me. This chart from the CSB version website shows where all of the English translations fall.
There are pros and cons to both translation styles. Thought-for-thought translations (NIV, NLT, etc.) are easy to read and understand, focusing on the main idea of the verse and not on the literal wording.
Word-for-word translations (KJV, ESV, etc.) focus on accuracy but can be hard to understand because they aren’t written like we normally speak and use words that aren’t common.
If you want the accuracy of literal translation and the everyday way of speaking of a thought-for-thought translation, why not use both?
Don’t understand a verse in the ESV? The NLT makes it easy. Not sure if the NLT’s wording of it is accurate? Check the ESV. This allows you to get all of the pros and avoid the cons.
For years I’ve used the ESV (though I’ve recently been using the CSB) because I know I can trust it’s faithfulness to the original languages. Yet, I love the plain language of the NLT.
4. Close your eyes and use headphones
We all know how easy it is to get distracted while reading the Bible. Well, it can be even worse while listening. When there’s nothing for your eyes to focus on, your mind will wander.
Assuming you’re not doing your quiet time in bed before coffee (can you have a quiet time without coffee??), closing your eyes while listening to a 5-10 minute audio clip really cuts down on distractions. This obviously doesn’t work, though, with tip #5.
There will likely be many distracting sounds as well. If you’re just using your phone’s speaker without headphones then you’ll still hear the dog barking, the kids yelling, etc.
If your eyes are closed and you’re using headphones (even some cheap noise-canceling ones are great), then you can be almost 100% distraction-free. This allows you to be about as focused as possible.
5. Redeem your time
Maybe the biggest advantage of audio Bibles is the ability to listen to God’s Word while doing other things. There’s obviously a huge temptation to completely ignore the audio like background noise while you’re distracted by other stuff (hence tip 4).
This will happen if you are doing detail-heavy things like office work or studying for a test. There are plenty of things, though, to do while listening.
I’ve got a friend with a 3-hour commute each day. He’s able to listen to the whole Bible several times each year! I usually do the dishes (as every good husband should), and that’s a great time to get an extra 10 minutes of Scripture.
Try listening to the Bible while at the gym, walking the dog, and grocery shopping. These aren’t too distracting and you’ll be surprised by the difference that these extra minutes make in shaping your mind.
6. Finish the Bible in
a year 3 months
We all struggle to read through the Bible in a year. We have to set aside the extra time each day and we often get busy and don’t get around to it.
There’s no excuse for not prioritizing our time with the Lord. None. However, reading isn’t the only way.
Most audio Bibles are less than 75 hours long. So, if you can listen for 1 hour each day while driving, exercising, etc., then you can finish the entire Bible in less than 3 months! Even if life happens and you miss a few days, it’s super easy to finish the Bible at least once each year.
7. Look for the big picture
You obviously won’t pick up on near as many details as you would with reading because you’re covering so much ground. That’s ok! That’s why combining listening with reading is such a great idea.
It’s hard to see the whole storyline of the Bible while spending months at a time on a certain book, trying to squeeze every last drop of wisdom out of each verse. It’s also hard to understand the individual parts of the Bible’s story if you don’t stop and study, looking for the details. Both are needed.
Read to mine all of the gold nuggets and listen to better understand why they are there.
You’ll likely memorize a chapter if you read it every day for a couple of weeks. How much faster will you memorize it if you also listen to it 3-4 times a day? The more senses that are involved the quicker it’ll get stuck in your heart.
Listening to a different translation than you read (tip #3) makes this a little harder but it’s still better than not listening at all. The idea of the passage is still the same even though the wording is a little different. You still get the same content over and over.
In short, get an audio Bible if you want to boost your Scripture memory.
Do you see how reading and listening complement each other so well? I hope these tips have helped you the way they’ve helped me. Adding an audio Bible to your quiet time won’t make you a better Christian overnight.
It will, however, give you another way to take in and meditate on God’s Word. The more we do this the more we will grow in holiness.
How have your experiences been with audio Bibles? Do you have any other tips?