I love Bible study. God’s Word is miraculous and amazing. In the Bible, the God of the universe has revealed Himself, His character, His ways, and His purposes. To us!
You and I can come to know the one true God through the Bible. And we don’t have to be scholars or theologians to study the Bible.
There are many different ways to study the Bible. We can study full Bible books, topics, or characters. We can study in groups using someone else’s study guide. Or we can study on our own, every day, just us, God, and His Word. All we need is a desire, an open heart, and a copy of God’s Word.
What I share below is essentially what I do every day when I open my Bible. Some days I spend more time than other days. You can use this basic framework in even just a few minutes. This “study” method will help you not just read your Bible, but also glean the truth God has for you and your life today.
But before we cover this simple 3-step study method, let’s take a step back. Many of us struggle to find the time to even open our Bibles. We long to read and study God’s Word, but life seems to have other ideas.
We live in a busy world. All of us have work, home, and family responsibilities. Sadly, too often the most important things get pushed aside by the urgent. However, with a little preparation we can make regular Bible reading and study more possible.
Practical Preparation for Regular Bible Study
Establish a regular place and time:
We are creatures of habit. If we know when and where we will meet with God, we are much more likely to do it. Build this time into your daily schedule. If a regular time is new for you, start small and allow God to grow it. God can do a lot with even 15 minutes devoted to Him. I meet with God first thing in the morning, but this is not the best time for everyone. Determine what time of the day is best for you and make a commitment – to God and yourself. But also give yourself grace when it doesn’t happen. There is always tomorrow.
Have a plan:
Haphazard Bible reading can easily lead to inconsistency and frustration. I find it’s easier to begin reading if I know where I’ll be reading before I open my Bible. A plan also increases the chance that I will read regularly. Pick a plan that works for the time you have to spend with God each day. If you can only commit to 15 minutes, don’t attempt to read through the Bible in a year. There is a huge variety of plans available. You can find plans to read through a Bible book, topical plans, holiday-themed plans, and more. Or choose a Book of the Bible to read through and select a set number of verses to read each day.
Organize your “tool box”:
Gather everything you’ll need for your time in God’s Word and keep it all together in your designated spot so you’ll always be prepared. Your tools may include things like your reading plan, pens and highlighters, and a journal. And of course, your Bible! Depending on where your study spot is, you may find it helpful to keep your supplies in a box, bag, or basket.
Although it’s impossible to eliminate all distractions, we can take steps to maintain our focus. For instance, silence your phone. Let your family know how important the time is for you. My biggest distractions are Email and social media. I had to commit to not open my laptop until after I’ve spent time with God. Determine what competes most for your attention and find ways to limit them.
3 Easy Steps for Everyday Bible Study
The following three steps can be used for any Bible passage. No matter the reading plan you are using, you can follow these steps to get more out of your time in God’s Word.
These steps take us beyond merely reading Scripture. They help us meditate on it, to ingest it. The steps are also flexible. On busy days you can do this in a few moments.
And when you have more time, you can linger, getting even more from your study time.
Step 1: Read
Before you begin, ask God to teach you. Ask Him to open your mind and heart to not only understand what you’re reading, but also to help you to be willing to apply His truth to your life. Keep praying while you read! Ask God questions about what you’re reading. He wants you to understand.
Read multiple times:
God’s Word is packed with wonderful things. It’s easy to miss details and even deep spiritual truth with just one reading. Choose a Bible reading plan that has daily readings manageable enough to give you time to read the passage two or three times.
Read in different translations:
Reading in different translations will also increase understanding. Start with a word-for-word translation like the ESV or NASB. Then try a thought-for-thought like the NIV or the NLT.
Step 2: Understand
Our goal in this step is to understand what the passage means – what God meant when He inspired it, not what we think it means to us. Every Scripture passage in the Bible has ONE meaning – what God meant when the Scripture was first written. Although there is just one meaning, God’s Word has endless application. Our task in this step is to discover the original meaning through observation of the text.
Before you begin your observation, make sure you understand the context of the larger passage. It’s easy to misunderstand a single verse or short passage when it’s taken out of the surrounding passages.
Although you may not find every one of the following in every passage, here are some things you should look for:
Truths about God:
The Bible is first and foremost a book about God. He is everywhere – in every passage, on every page. It may be blatant or subtle, but He will be there. Looks for truths about His nature, His character, His ways, and His purposes.
Key Words & Phrases:
Repetition in God’s Word is not accidental. If you see words and phrases repeated, take note. God is trying to point to something important.
Mark any facts you see in the passage that will help you understand what’s happening. Things like people, places, and numbers can be key to comprehension.
The Bible is full of commands. Some are one-time commands for specific individuals at a specific time. Others are for all God’s people for all time. For instance, “love one another” is applicable to us today!
There will be a lot of overlap here with “truths about God.” However, eternal spiritual principles impact our daily lives. For instance, Psalm 1 teaches that those who meditate constantly on God’s Word will thrive spiritually and live fruitful lives for God’s Kingdom.
Depending on your preference, you can mark these in your Bible, takes notes in a journal, or record them in some other way. I use a journaling Bible with an extra-wide, lined journaling column. I make study notes there and I use a highlighting system to help me observe the passage.
For instance, I use purple to mark truths about God, blue for commands, and orange for key words.
Step 3: Apply
Knowledge of God’s Word is never the end game. Application that leads to spiritual transformation is always our goal.
So, once we’ve read and understood, let’s ask God to show us how to apply these truths to our lives.
Here are a few examples of what application might look like:
- Prayer: I may discover something I need to pray for myself or others.
- Repentance: God may reveal a sin or area of disobedience that needs to be confessed and turned away from.
- Obedience: God may show me an action I need to take or a decision I need to make.
- Believe: New information about God may require me to realign my beliefs with His truth.
- Express: The reading may prompt a praise or thanksgiving I need to voice to God.
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3, NIV
A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher Kathy Howard now lives an unshakeable faith for life and encourages other women to embrace real, authentic faith. Kathy is the author of 8 books, including “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents”. Find spiritual encouragement and free discipleship helps on her website.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Aaron Burden
A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. She encourages women to get into God’s Word for themselves in order to build an unshakeable faith that will stand firm through all the trials of life. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters in Religious Education and a certificate in Women’s Ministry from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. Kathy, the author of 8 books and Bible studies, also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy also connects with women on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.