Faith

My #1 Tool For Studying the Bible

bible study

“You ought to search the Scriptures yourself, to discover the glorious gospel.”

Lailah Gifty Akita

As a lot of us know, studying the Bible is a cornerstone of the Christian walk. The Bible is, after all, the Word of God, and it is just as prevalent to us today as it was when it was originally written 2,000+ years ago.

I grew up reading it, of course. Studying the Bible in communal gatherings is also familiar to me – my family sits down together every morning to read and study with my father leading us. But when it comes to my private relationship with the Lord, I’ve always felt a little bit confused and unsure about how to go about it. Do I close my eyes, open the Bible, and point with my finger, assuming that’s the verse God wants me to read that day? Do I start at the beginning and work my way through to the end? Most of the time I’d just pick a random chapter to read through, but I wouldn’t retain anything.

I wanted to be diligent to spend time in the Word, but I didn’t know where to start or how to do it. I started Googling things like “How To Study the Bible” but nothing really stood out to me. Except for this video, which I actually found when my sister showed me this channel:

After watching this video, I understood that I needed to have a focused approach to Bible study. Taking elements of what Gretchen spoke about, and compiling them with the bits and pieces that I was picking up in other places, I began tackling my “secret closet” time in ways I never had before.

But it was one particular thing that brought studying the Bible to a whole new level for me.

A notebook.

“I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book.”

Abraham Lincoln

If you read my last post, 7 Reasons Why You Should Keep A Journal, you would have noticed that reason #3 had to do with the secret closet – writing your prayers down to the Lord. But what I didn’t get into was my own personal testimony when it came to the amazing ways that journaling helped me in delving into the Word.

So just how do you study the Bible using a journal?

First of all, watch the video up above – Gretchen, the speaker, gives a great foundation on how to go about it, including insight on how to navigate choosing your study. When I started using the method of journaling as I studied my Bible, I chose the Book of Ruth for my first in-depth study (and wow, was that a huge blessing!)

Pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit

This is first and foremost. You should pray before every study session for the Lord to touch you and anoint you with wisdom and understanding. He wrote the Bible; He holds the honored and glorified position of interpreting it to you. Don’t leave Him out.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

Psalm 100:4

Read

Using the Book of Ruth as an example, I open up to the chapter I’m preparing to study, and I read through several verses. How much you read through and how long you take to study a particular verse, or verses, is up to you. Sometimes, I use the whole of my study time to focus on one single verse; other times, I read through and take notes on several verses. It depends, and there’s no right or wrong way of doing this. Let the Lord lead you and take rest in the fact that this is a learning process and a journey – you can’t fail!

Reread & meditate

Often, we skim over the words, not letting them take root in our hearts and minds; being a fast reader, I’m particularly prone to this. Read slowly. Meditate on the words. Read the verses over and over and over again. (Literally. It’s amazing how things start to become clearer when you’ve read the same verse eight times in a row.)  If you’re wondering about the meaning of the word, get your hands on a Strong’s Concordance (if you don’t have one, consider investing in one – it’s a priceless addition to your Bible study toolkit). You can find the Hebrew root meaning of any given word in that concordance, and oftentimes the verse you’re studying can take on new depths and meanings when you understand where the word comes from.

Take notes

This is where the journal comes into play. I write the date; some people choose to write the hour and the location – I don’t bother with that sort of thing, but you can if you want to. I write down the verses I’m studying, and then I break it down. Sometimes – like when I was studying Psalm 119 – I copy down the verse, and then I write my notes on it. My notes include everything from my impression of the verse, what I think it’s saying, how it pertains to me, what I think God could be showing me with it, and so on and so forth. If I don’t understand something I write it down. This brings the Word home in a deep and personal way. I’ll never forget those verses that I took notes on, that I meditated on and pondered.

You can ask yourself these questions:

  1. How does this apply to me?
  2. What is God showing me through this verse?
  3. What can I take away from it? 
  4. How can I learn from it?

Other things I write down in my prayer journal are personal testimonies, answers to prayer, dreams, things God is showing me, trials I’m going through, and how God is ministering to me through my study of the Word.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Be open to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. You may be in the middle of a study on the book of Proverbs, but God may put into your heart one day to turn to the book of Galatians. Don’t hesitate. That’s God speaking to you. He wants to show you something.
  2. It’s okay to play ‘Bible Roulette’ every now and then. (That’s when you close your eyes, open your Bible, and point to a verse.) Sometimes when we’re desperate and in need of an answer, God will use this method of “chance” to minister to us. However, use wisdom. There’s a story of a man who does this and the verse his finger falls on is that of the man who vowed to God that he would sacrifice the first person who came out to greet him on his return home from battle and it ended up being his daughter (Judges 11:29). Naturally, this left our Roulette friend pretty confused. I would pray and ask God for discernment if you’re confused about what you’ve read.

Did this help you in any way? Do you have any tried-and-true methods when it comes to studying the Bible? Leave me a comment and let me know! 

I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.

Elisabeth Eliot

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