One of the ways I seek to wash my wife with the water of God’s Word and nourish her spiritual life (Ephesians 5:26, 29) is to read to her out loud. This may seem strange to some of you, like I’m sitting in a big arm chair reading to her in my Mr. Rogers sweater while she’s crossed-legged on the floor atop her carpet square for story time, but that’s not the way it goes down. I simply choose a book on a particular aspect of the Christian life written by an author with solid theology, read a chapter out loud while we’re sitting on the couch (trying to convey the tone of the writing with the inflection in my voice), lead a short discussion on what I read, and both of us pray in response to what impacted us most.
For the spiritual health of your marriage this may be something that you and your spouse want to try as well. Here are a few reasons why Keri and I find this beneficial:
1) It brings us together for a longer period of time. We could take a book and read the chapter separately and then come together for discussion and prayer (which we’ve done in the past), but this does more to cultivate unity.
2) It helps us grasp the overall thrust of the chapter. Sometimes reading silently has us miss the forest for the trees in regard to the major themes of the book.
3) In my attempts to convey the tone and mood of the chapter with the inflection in my voice, we find it helps us grasp more the urgency and importance of what the author is trying to communicate.
4) It helps us focus our attention. When reading silently, it can be easy to lose our place on the page or read five paragraphs and realize that we don’t remember a single tidbit from any of them. Reading aloud makes use of another style of learning.
If you want to give this a try, let me also suggest that you be picky in what book you choose to read out loud. You could choose a book that has rock-solid theology and endorsements on the back from all the modern-day greats, but that does not necessarily mean that the book would do well in being read out loud. Some books are meant to be studied more than read. For example, I would not suggest reading most of what John Piper has written out loud to your wife. Piper is one of my absolute favorites, but I find myself having to re-read paragraphs in his books two and three times to understand them. In my opinion, for reading out loud, you want to choose a book where the writer takes a winsome, engaging, and at times, humorous approach. You’d also do well to choose a book where the chapters aren’t thirty pages long. Here are some suggestions:
- Crazy Love by Francis Chan
- The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge
- Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris
- Humility by C.J. Mahaney
- Anything by Paul David Tripp (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, Broken-Down House, etc.)