40 Days of Prayer

Day 39: Slow reading

February 8, 2019

My Image

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Joshua 1:8

From Our “Here”…

In a July 12, 2010, Newsweek article, “Slow Notion,” Malcolm Jones takes a look at a habit often discouraged in education circles: “Slow reading has always gotten a bad rap. Slow readers in school were the bad students. No one ever got a blue ribbon or a good grade for plodding. So it comes as a surprise to find that the phrase at least comes with a distinguished pedigree.”

Jones goes on to note some of history’s proponents for slow reading and the resurgence of interest in the practice. He cites John Miedema, author of the book Slow Reading, who claims, “When you bring more of the person to bear on the book — or maybe more of the book to bear on a person in a sense — you develop a more intimate and rich relationship with the information that builds richer memories and a richer intelligence.”

I love to read, but I’m one of those “read it out loud in your brain” kind of readers. I take my time visualizing every description, mentally enunciating every word traded in dialogue, and imagining the different accents and speech cadences a writer attributes to each character. I’ve studied my share of tips for speed-reading, and pretty much every one of my reading habits violates some speed-reading dictum.

But any reader, even a speed-reader, will slow down for a favorite text. It defeats the purpose of poetry to read treasured verses rapidly. Who would speed-read Shakespeare?

…To God’s “There”

The Bible is one Book I always read deliberately, in every sense of the word. I would never skim the Twenty-Third Psalm, the Beatitudes or 1 Corinthians 13’s description of authentic love. Most importantly, as I read Scripture slowly, I take time to measure my life against its standard. Sometimes my understanding and application develop at a glacial pace.

And yet, there is no other book in whose pages I would so willingly give up speed in exchange for Miedema’s “intimate and rich relationship with the information.” If ever slow reading could bring “more of the book to bear on a person,” it has to be within God’s Word.

Studying the Word, living out its truth, and communicating that message to others is a lifelong mission. Nothing is gained and much is lost whenever a harum-scarum scan hijacks timeless truth.

Making the Leap

Who are the missionaries your church supports, or that you have committed to personally? In the middle of life’s rush, it’s tempting to read their newsletters or online updates at a glance. Slow down and prayerfully evaluate what those communiqués are really saying. Grasp the true level of need when a missionary reports on church planting or Bible school training or community outreach. Slow reading and deliberate prayer go hand in glove.

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