I came across a wonderful post over at Preachers Institute called “AAA: Reading the Bible the Orthodox Way“, which I would rename simply “AAA: Reading the Bible the Christian Way”, as the suggestions in it should apply to all Christians. Fr. Peck breaks down the reading of Scripture into three basic steps, easily remembered by “AAA”:
ALOUD – Read it aloud;
APPLY it to yourself;
ACT on it immediately.
I think most people will trip up on that first one: “Read it aloud”? Why? Fr. Peck notes,
Read it aloud. The Scriptures are literature, and literature, believe it or not, is written to be read aloud. Try reading Shakespeare or Milton aloud and you’ll discover things which you missed before. Likewise, the Scriptures were written to be read aloud, to inspire faith in the listener, not the reader.
I can vouch for this statement. When I first went to read Milton’s Paradise Lost I had a hard time getting through it. But then I read somewhere that reading it aloud would make my reading more fruitful, so I tried it. Surprisingly (at least to me), I was able to follow the text much more closely by reading it aloud. Reading aloud is very foreign to our modern culture, but it was standard practice in Biblical times and even beyond. In the fourth century, St. Augustine marveled that St. Ambrose was able to read without moving his lips! This was practically unheard of in Augustine’s time. Try reading the Bible sometime aloud – I think you’ll be surprised at the difference.
Fr. Peck’s other suggestions are more familiar, but no less vital. We need to apply the words of Scripture to our own lives. As the Letter to the Hebrews states, “the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Reading the Bible should change your life.
Also, we need to act on the words of Scripture immediately. The death of the spiritual life is procrastination. After reading a passage of Scripture, you should make an immediate resolution as to how you will apply it to your life and then do it. Waiting until later means ignoring it.