Someone asked me how I study the Word, so let me share below a few things I’ve found helpful:
- Plan a time to read. For me, it has to be early morning—I quickly get distracted if I don’t get up and spend time in the Word before anything else. I’ve prayed over the years for God to wake me up and He has. Maybe it is early morning for you. Maybe late at night is when you are most alert. Maybe you need to find a clean, orderly room… whatever… but find a time and a place to be disciplined to set this time aside to seek God through His Word daily. Ask someone to be your accountability partner on this. And this is not legalistic – it is life-giving — because all who have ever sought God through His Word know that what started as discipline turns into devotion because the more we know God … the more we LOVE HIM.
- Pray before you start reading. Ask God to give you ears to ear and eyes to see what He wants to show you through His Word.
- Read in an orderly approach. Don’t just flop it open and read one place one day and another the next. Pick a book of the Bible and read it slowly and in an orderly fashion.
- Read ALL the Bible. Understand those who wrote the New Testament often quote the Old Testament and assume readers would have a familiarity with the Old Testament. Don’t just read the New Testament with an occasional Psalms or Proverbs— there is so much more!
- Be sure you are reading the Bible. Is it a translation of the Bible (like the ESV, KJV, NKJV, NIV)? Is it a devotional (like Jesus Calling) or a paraphrase (like The Message)? Be careful to only read a paraphrase or devotional secondary to your Bible and not in place of your Bible. A paraphrase or devotional should be thought of as a help but not as a stand-alone Bible. They may help you understand a passage in a more modern-day way but should not be read as a Bible.
- Dive deep and ask questions like, “Is this a principle or a promise? Is this poetry? A prophetic metaphor? Is this a historical narrative? Was this written to the church or Israel?” To answer these questions, get a good Bible commentary. Use trustworthy sites like the Enduring Word App (I love this one), Bible Gateway, Desiring God, or Bible Hub. It’s even easy to look up the original Greek (New Testament) or Hebrew (Old Testament) words with these apps and this can yield further understanding. Ask yourself the following questions:
**1. What kind of passage am I reading? Is it an account of something that happened? (i.e. Old Testament historical narrative) Is it a letter? (i.e. Paul’s letters) Is it poetry or song? (like the Psalms) Is it prophecy? (Old Testament Prophets, Revelation etc).
**2. Who is the author? (a study Bible will often tell you this at the beginning of each book) What was going on in the life of the author at this point (if applicable – for example, was Paul sitting in a prison when he wrote the words you might be reading)
**3. Who was this passage written to? (again – study Bibles will generally give you lots of information about this at the beginning of each book in the Bible) Is this passage talking specifically to believers, to Israel, or to everyone?
**4. What was going on in the lives of the audience? Was it a time of persecution? Was it a time of peace and prosperity?
**5. Ask yourself how the circumstances of the passage relate to any circumstances you have faced or will face?
**6. Ask yourself what you can learn about the audience. Were they showing faith despite persecution? Were they being unfaithful or ignoring God? Were they in sin and what were the consequences? Etc. Ask yourself how you may have behaved this way towards God and how he wants you to apply this lesson in your life.
**7. Ask yourself what you can learn about God and His character in the passage? The Bible is God telling us about Himself. It helps us in so many ways to understand who He really is and refute the daily lies of the enemy about Him (Is He showing mercy, Is He requiring obedience? Can you know Jesus more through His sufferings in the passage? Etc) Ask yourself what you are reading says about God. Jen Wilken says, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.” And it’s true! As you get to know God, through His Word, you will love Him and trust Him enough to obey Him. It’s hard to love someone you don’t personally know or only hear others tell you about!
**8. Determine if there are things about the passage that you do not understand. Often, looking at the notes in a good study Bible will help clear things up. Additionally, look up the cross-references (usually in a column in the center of the page- where you can look up other verses in different parts of the Bible that may further explain the passage you are reading). Also, seek out a pastor, mentor or friend who can help you when you have questions. Make sure this person is solid in their interpretation and Biblical knowledge.
**9. Ask yourself how God wants you to apply what you are reading to your life. Is He giving you comfort, correction, wise counsel, direction etc? How does what you are learning help you be more like His Son? We read our Bible to know God and His will for our lives so that we might live our lives to give Him glory and love Him more each day. The Bible also tells us how to live a godly life. The Bible is much more than a history book or a guide book… it is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword. God will speak to the very moments of your life through it.
And a few more tips:
- Read Scripture with Scripture. Take the whole counsel of God’s Word. Be careful to make sure your interpretation of a verse does not conflict with another verse in God’s Word.
- Be patient. Some days you will have those “Ah-ha, mountain-top moments” and you will know God is speaking to you and your circumstances! But other days, you’ll just read something and not see an immediate application. But you are storing up treasure! As Jen Wilken says, “When we read our Bible, we are making deposits into a savings account for withdrawal later”. God will bring those words, that wisdom, that comfort to your mind at just the right time. The Holy Spirits job is to remind us of what we have read. Our job is to read it – to take in the daily bread. To be real, some days, I read my Bible and it feels a bit like drudgery. I’m tempted to be discouraged except I know eventually God uses every moment I spend with Him. To be sure, the Bible isn’t about instant gratification. Oh no! It’s so much more, so much deeper, so much longer lasting than that.
God’s Word won’t return void (Isaiah 55:11) The Holy Spirit will remind you and use it all at just the right time! “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26) Boom! Isn’t that awesome?!
And those are just a few tips. There are so many out there who are further along than I am. But I promise you this… I love and trust Jesus more because of His Word. Nothing has changed my life more. God will speak to you through it and you will be blessed to walk this life with more peace, more hope and more joy when you seek our precious Lord through His Word!
Feel free to print this, share it, etc. -my heart is for others to taste and see our good God through His precious Word.
In Him, ❤️ Kim
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