With St. Ignatius “whose heart was
always striding forth in eager desire
for Jesus.” (From the plaque)

Do you ever feel like your devotional life has become dry and lifeless, like a hot summer day? You try to read God’s Word, and you try to pray. But you feel like you’re spiritually wilting away inside. I’ve been there, many times. But recently I discovered a way to experience personal Bible reading revival that surprised me because it was so simple.

Here’s what happened. I went on a 3-day silent retreat at a Jesuit Center near Reading, PA. I’ve taken personal retreats before and usually I study a book of the Bible then pray for long chunks of time. But this time I was tired and stressed out, and had to force myself to go. When I arrived, I struggled to get into retreat mode, but it just wasn’t happening. I was sitting there in a daze.

So I gave up and went for a walk. After a while I stopped and began reading the Psalms aloud, beginning with Psalm 1. No thinking, no analysis. I just read aloud with expression, then moved on to the next one. I was amazed at how that simple practice made the Bible come alive again for me. Then I started praying aloud too. And the more I read and prayed aloud, the more I felt God was present with me, and that we were having a dialog.

By the end of the 3 days I had done a lot of walking, and a lot of Bible reading and prayer outside. I made it all the way to Psalm 81. I learned that experiencing God’s presence comes in “moments,” 5 minutes or so when I become very aware of the Spirit’s presence. Those are times of pure joy and renewal. But then, the moment dissipates and I realize I’m thinking about golf, or work, or something I want to buy. My attentiveness to God drifts. Instead of feeling guilty, I just say, “OK, that’s it for now…”, and get up and walk to a new place and begin again.

If you’re experiencing the dog days in your devotional life right now, I’d encourage you to take a walk with a small Bible and begin reading it aloud and talking to God. You’ll be amazed at how soon you’ll feel in step with the Spirit once again (Galatians 5:25).

The Dog Days of Bible Reading

7 thoughts on “The Dog Days of Bible Reading

  • July 30, 2012 at 8:58 am
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    Whitney, this is, as you say, such a simple and yet obviously effective means of engaging with scripture. And when you stop to think about it, it should not surprise us. Reading scripture, like the rest of the Christian life, should be primarily corporate and how else does one do that except out loud! The Bible and prayer are meant, surely,although not exclusively, to be done together and out loud. I don't know about USA but one of the things we need to work on here is proper attention and care being given to scripture reading in public. Thanks very much for the stimulus; something I often need!

    Andy Bathgate

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  • August 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm
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    The time honored and tested way of reading the Scriptures is to read them aloud. It was the practice of the early church, the Church Fathers,and millions since. Simply, the practice engages hearing, “faith comes by hearing the Word of God,” and thus helps focus on the Word being spoken by the Holy Spirit as we read. I recently resumed this ancient pathway and it is proving immensely helpful. The Word is meant to be proclaimed. We can proclaim the Word as we read. Thanks for sharing with so many what our brothers and sisters knew until the invention of the printing press, namely, that the Scriptures are meant to be heard as well as seen.

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  • August 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm
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    Indeed I have felt it very powerful as well. A good way to revise is to use dramatized audio versions as well when commuting etc. But reading aloud is very powerful and straight into the word and indeed moving by His presence soon!

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  • August 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm
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    thank you for this post: I have shared it with my daughter as well; been there. this is refreshing=going to walk, read and talk with the LORD…recipe: one small bible with a plastic baggie & umbrella for the days it rains; rain will not deter….isn't the rain beautiful anyway!….now sleet and lightening…I think I'll skip that 🙂

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  • August 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm
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    what a great idea i have been felling that way some lately and think i will give this a try

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  • November 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm
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    Whitney, I am so very happy that you have refound the joy of vocal prayer and talk with the Lord. Your post brought to mind the book MegaShift by James Rutz and the movement to small home churches and more congregational participation, or what I referred to in the paper I sent you awhile back as tearing down the four walls and welcoming God, particularly the Holy Spirit into our churches. As always, my love to yourself, Carol, and the gang, David Melville

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  • February 4, 2013 at 2:51 am
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    Hey David. Missed your comment earlier but thanks for joining the conversation. Good reminder about MegaShift. Blessings.

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