I often get asked how do I study the bible? It’s a loaded question for me because there are so many different things I like to do and tools I like to incorporate into my study time. My approach and tools can change depending on what book of the bible I’m studying and the purpose of my study. Whether I’m studying for personal growth or to teach and/or write about what I am studying makes a big difference.
Regardless of the purpose of my study, I usually apply the following seven steps.
I start every session in the study of God’s Word in prayer. I ask the Lord to fill me with wisdom and insight for what I am about to read and I invite the Holy Spirit to breath new life into me through His scripture. I also pray that He would begin to seal the message He has for me that day in my heart and on my mind.
After I’ve prayed and invited the Holy Spirit into my study session, I start to read the passage. I will usually pick a passage and read it a couple times straight through without stopping or trying to interpret the text. If it’s a chapter, I will read the chapter at least 5 times without stopping.
If I’m studying a whole book, I’ll typically read the entire book from start to finish in one sitting. However, I hope to get a couple readings in before I start to break it down into smaller sections or go verse by verse through the passages. Reading a book from start to finish allows you to grasp the greater picture and theme of the book and give a whole lot of detail and insight when it comes to breaking the book up into smaller chunks.
Books of the bible were initially read out loud to a large group or church from start to finish. When reading the a book, I like at least one of my readings to be done out loud so I not only read the passage but I hear it as well. You might want to make sure you are in a private location for this step, I don’t recommend reading out loud in Starbucks.
When I read the passage a few times, allowing the words to soak into my head and heart, it gets all of me primed and ready to recieve what the Lord has for me as I dive deeper into His scriptures.
Now comes the fun part, at this point you’re primed and ready to make some observations. I have a list of observations I like to make and I keep them in my bible so I can refer to them often or whenever I’m feeling stuck. A few of those observations are listed below but some simple question you can always ask is Who? What? and Where?
I’ll often write these observations out. I have a worksheet I acquired from my time studying in the School of Biblical Studies which I pull out often to help guide me through this part of my study.
Once I’ve read the passage a few times and called out the observations in the passage I am now able to identify the overall theme of the passage. Whether it’s a chapter or the whole book, the author will always have a main theme weaved throughout the passage. When you identify the overall theme or the main point of the passage it will help bring to life the details of the story and enable you to draw out personal application that goes along with the scripture.
I like to journal what I’m learning. There have been studies that prove when we write out what we are learning we are more apt to remember. For me, I always have an extra layer of a heart stir when I write out what the Lord is teaching me through his word. Plus, I’m a visual learner and seeing the words strung out on a page enhances what I’m learning and my ability to remember it for the long term.
There really is no better way to really learn about God and His scripture than to do what the scripture says. If you incorporate anything into your study, this would be the step I’d start with! It builds trust and strengthens and personalized what we know about God. Whenever I study a passage I like to identify something that I could do that fits in line with what the scripture is teaching, is simple and measurable, and can be incorporated into my daily life right now.
Once I’ve prayed, read, observed, journaled and applied what I’ve learned, the best way to make sure I really understand what I’ve just studied and make sure I never forget is to share it with someone. This blog is my outlet for sharing what I’m learning but I also share with friends or in my church woman’s ministry or bible study. Sharing scripture also brings a deeper understanding through conversation. It deepens your understanding of God in the passage and breaths life out and shares it with others.
I believe we are designed to operate best when we are receiving from God and moving that learning out to others. It forms a continual cycle of learning and receiving and giving out.
That’s it. Pretty simple right? If you haven’t spent much time studying the bible, or you haven’t used any real structure or tools in the past, this may seem like a lot of steps. But just like anything, the more you do them the more natural they become and they will feel less like steps and more like a natural habit.