Reading often means gathering information, acquiring new insight and knowledge, and mastering a new field. It can lead us to degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Spiritual reading, however, is different. It means not simply reading about spiritual things but also reading about spiritual things in a spiritual way. That requires a willingness not just to read but to be read, not just to master but to be mastered by words. As long as we read the Bible or a spiritual book simply to acquire knowledge, our reading does not help us in our spiritual lives. We can become very knowledgeable about spiritual matters without becoming truly spiritual people.
As we read spiritually about spiritual things, we open our hearts to God's voice. Sometimes we must be willing to put down the book we are reading and just listen to what God is saying to us through its words.
Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey
I sometimes feel obscurely guilty about how long it takes me to get through a spiritual book, as compared with a novel, or something technical, and yet I’ve also often felt that this was the only way for me. I should have the courage of my convictions more often—it’s a besetting problem of mine, not having said courage—and simply admit that this is God’s way of telling me to eat slowly, and chew every mouthful…