Cheating at Bible Study

read an article that asked if listening to the Bible on an app was “cheating?” The author said that we have grown up thinking that scripture can’t be consumed casually. He said, “It’s almost like we’re conditioned to need a commentary and concordance in hand…and special glasses in order to dig in to God’s Word.”

This article was of interest to me because for several months while getting ready in the morning, I listen to a Bible reading app on my phone. I usually get several chapters done during the time it takes me to do my hair and makeup. While this should not be the totality of my Bible study, I believe that listening is a valid and productive method of learning God’s word.

Some may argue that we have to stay fully engaged with every word or it doesn’t count. I admit that my mind occasionally wanders as I listen, but it also tends to wander when I sit down to read, too. However, I have discovered that I am more of an auditory learner than I previously thought, so I learn and retain a good bit while listening.

Here are suggestions for ways to spend more time in God’s word:

  • Listen to scripture on your phone or computer. I really like which comes in several versions and is read with or without dramatization. I like the dramatized version which has different character voices and sounds like wind and rain . Recently listening to the story of Joseph and his brothers, I could feel the pain in Joseph’s voice as he heard his brothers talking. When the text says he, “turned himself away from them and wept” (Genesis 42:24), I found my own eyes filled with tears.
  • Write the Bible. By taking a pen in your own hand and copying scripture, you will be forced to slow down and meditate. There will be nuances and insights that you have missed before. You can read more about it here.
  • Listen to recorded audio or video sermons, lectures, and podcasts. Many congregations now stream or archive sermons to access. Car trips are my favorite time to play downloaded sermons by favorite speakers.
  • Don’t miss the assembly. Take advantage of opportunities to attend Bible class, worship services, lectureships, and other times devoted to teaching God’s word. When you listen, be sure to keep your Bible open to look up things that are being taught (Acts 17:11). It is my opinion that having your own familiar Bible is better than an electronic copy. With your own, you can mark in it, take notes, cross reference scriptures, and highlight key points. Those notes are a great resource when doing future study.
  • Read scripture (1 Timothy 4:13). You can read on a schedule such as through the Bible in year, or something less structured. You can also follow in your own Bible, but let the Bible app read to you as you follow along. Keep a notebook handy to write down questions that you have in the reading or things you want to investigate further
  • Do deeper study. Use reference books, concordances, word study books, or other materials that help glean the meaning of passages. Pick a topic of interest and look up everything you can find on it.

If the only Bible study we do involves long, uninterrupted periods of time with our open Bible, we may be missing out on opportunities for learning and growing closer to God through His word. There’s a place for deep study (2 Timothy 2:15), for reading God’s word (1 Timothy 4:13), for writing God’s word (Deuteronomy 17:18-19), and for listening to God’s word (Luke 11:28; Romans 10:17). There’s never been a time in history with so many opportunities to saturate your life with the Word!