How to Study the Bible Effectively in 5 Simple Steps
It felt like the word jumped off the page and hit me in the face. My spiritual director had just asked if there was anything I’d written down that I thought God wanted me to focus on.
And there it was.
The word MORE.
As I thought about what this word meant, I realized God was calling me to MORE in my relationship with Him.
While I’d been a Christian for many years, I hadn’t really gone deeper. Now, God was making me painfully aware that knowing a lot ABOUT Him . . . is not the same as KNOWING Him personally and intimately.
God was inviting me to grow in my faith and to get to know Him in new ways. And one of those ways was by learning how to study the Bible.
And yet, to be completely honest, at first, it felt scary to try and study Scripture. I didn’t know where to start. What to do. And I was worried I would mess up.
But luckily, we serve a God of grace. Who wants to help us study His Word.
And by learning a few simple things, I found that studying the Bible can be an amazing experience.
Are you ready for MORE in your relationship with Jesus? Then let’s go!
- How Do Beginners Study the Bible?
- How to Study the Bible for Yourself
- How to Study the Bible Deeply
- How to Study the Holy Bible Effectively
How Do Beginners Study the Bible?
It can be very intimidating to learn how to study the Bible effectively for beginners. Those new to the faith. Or even those who’ve been a Christian for a while but have never attempted to study God’s Word.
The Bible is a big book. With lots of strange words. And unfamiliar ideas.
Yes, studying the Bible can feel intimidating, but keep in mind . . . you know the Author!
God loves you and wants to help you learn more about Him through His Word, so He will help you learn how to do this.
The most effective way to study the Bible starts with two very simple, easy-to-do things:
- 1) Have a plan for reading, memorizing, and studying the Bible.
- 2) Set aside time daily to accomplish this. (At least 15 minutes.)
Obviously, there’s much more to studying the Bible than this. But by starting to do these two things you will be well on your way to creating a great habit for life.
What Should I Study First in the Bible?
It doesn’t really matter what you study first in the Bible. It’s all God’s Word. And it’s all helpful for our lives.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”-2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
You can start out in one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) so that you can learn more about Jesus.
Or if you find you’re struggling with something like fear, anger, patience, loving others, etc. It may be helpful to use a concordance and do a topical study to find out what God says about that subject.
Another great place to start is the Psalms.
But what matters most isn’t where you start . . . but that you start!
How to Study the Bible for Yourself
So, hopefully, you feel motivated to study God’s Word now. But you may still have some nagging questions. Like how should I study the Bible? And what is the best way to study Scripture?
There are five easy-to-remember steps to setting yourself up for success when sitting down to study the Bible.
- Prioritize it.
- Pray over it.
- Purposefully arrange for it.
- Prepare for it.
- Plan for it.
Let’s look into these a little bit more so we can learn how to apply them to our Bible study time.
1) Prioritize it.
Set aside the time. Make an appointment with God. Think of it like a date night with Jesus. This is important for your faith walk and your spiritual health . . . so treat it as such.
Make studying the Bible a priority and set aside the time to do it.
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds.”-Deuteronomy 11:18 NIV
2) Pray over it.
Begin your time in prayer. Ask God to reveal what He wants to show you today. The Holy Spirit is the key to opening your eyes to God’s Word, so ask Him to help you. To soften your heart and open your mind.
Believe me, He would love to!
And don’t forget to end your time in God’s Word with prayer. Thank God for what you learned and ask Him to help you apply it.
“Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.”-Psalm 119:18 NLT
3) Purposefully arrange for it.
Find a quiet area where you can concentrate. Make this area comfortable so you want to be there. But not so comfortable that you fall asleep!
In fact, set yourself up for success by getting enough sleep the night before.
4) Prepare for it.
Have everything you need ready to go.
It’s a good idea to have pens, highlighters, and a notebook or a journal. You also want to try and have 2 versions of the Bible, a concordance, a Bible dictionary, and some good commentaries.
I know that sounds like a lot. And these things can cost quite a bit.
I found that investing in a good study Bible and then downloading the Blue Letter Bible App was a better option for me. This app has all the things you need to study the Bible in one convenient place.
5) Plan for it.
Plan out what you are going to read beforehand.
Look for good Bible reading plans to help you decide what you want to focus on in your study time.
You can also consider doing a study on a Bible character you admire. A topic you’re interested in. Or an attribute of God.
How to Study the Bible Deeply
If you want to go even deeper try these awesome additional tips on how to study the Bible effectively. They will help you grow in your understanding of God’s Word even more.
1) Look for good commentaries.
First, try to study the passage on your own and come up with your own thoughts on what it means. But after that, it can be helpful to read some good commentaries to gain additional insights into the passage and see if you were on the right track.
Keep in mind though that those commentaries are just another person’s opinion. What matters more than anything is what God says.
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”-Psalm 119:105 NLT
2) Memorize Scripture.
There are so many great ways to memorize God’s Word. And by doing this you allow the power of Scripture to change your life.
By hiding God’s Word in your heart, the Holy Spirit can bring these verses to mind at the perfect time to bring you encouragement, inspiration, and hope.
There are great apps out there that can help you with memorizing Bible verses. You can also use 3×5 cards. Or Post-It notes you put in a place you’ll see frequently. (Like the bathroom mirror or by the kitchen sink.)
If you take 1-3 minutes to go over a verse every day, you should be able to memorize it within a week.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”-Psalm 119:11 NIV
3) Pray and meditate.
Just like plants need time to soak up water . . . our souls need time to soak up the Living water. This is why as we study God’s Word we also need to take some time to meditate on what we are learning.
Meditating is simply taking time to focus on your breathing while going over a passage over and over again. To really think about it. Ponder it. And be still so you can listen to anything the Holy Spirit has to say about it.
4) Read devotionals.
While we need to study God’s Word on our own, it can be helpful to read devotionals in order to gain wisdom from others. We can learn a lot from the experience, knowledge, and wisdom of other godly Christians.
So, while they should never take the place of our own personal study of God’s Word, devotionals can be very helpful.
5) Keep a journal.
As you study God’s Word keep a notebook or journal close by to jot down questions, thoughts, and prayers.
Think about these things while you read:
- What does it say?
- What does it mean?
- How can I apply this?
Read the text slowly and carefully. Then re-read it and take notes. Go ahead and underline, circle, or highlight words. Or jot down your thoughts in the margins.
Believe me, God doesn’t mind!
If you have a question about what you’re reading, take the time to look for the answer. Look at the cross-reference verses. Or try reading some commentaries on the verse.
(Another great place to find answers to your questions is gotquestions.org.)
6) Consider the context.
As you’re reading, always remember that “Context is King!” You need to carefully consider the context of every passage. It’s helpful to go through the following 3 steps to do this.
- Think about “Them & Then”.
What did this passage mean to them back then? What was the author’s original intention in writing this? What did he want the original audience to know?
What is the historical, geographical, and cultural background of this text? What is the genre? Is it a narrative, poetry, historical, etc.?
- Where is the “Gospel” in this passage?
All of Scripture is either looking ahead to Jesus (Old Testament) or looking back at the cross (New Testament). It’s all a big story about how God loved us enough to send a Savior for us.
So, as you read, consider how the passage helps to reveal the gospel of Jesus.
- Finally, think about “Us & Now”.
Lastly, you want to consider how you can apply this passage to the world today and your life right now.
Is there a timeless truth God is trying to share with you? Is there an action step you need to take? How do you think God wants you to apply this to your life?
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”-Hebrews 4:12 NLT
How to Study the Holy Bible Effectively
Now, you know how to study the Bible deeply and effectively. And you’re ready to dig into God’s Word.
Which is awesome because the Bible has the power to change our lives. But the truth is it can never change us until it gets inside of us.
I’ve heard it said that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been through the Bible. What matters is how many times the Bible has been through you.
You have to read it. Memorize it. Study it. Believe it. And let the Holy Spirit guide you as you study it.
But don’t feel overwhelmed.
Make adjustments if you need to. And give yourself grace.
Remember this is a learning process. It’s going to take time and experience to get good at it.
So, take a deep breath, open your Bible, and keep studying.
Knowing that every minute you spend in God’s Word makes your Savior smile!
If you found this helpful then please share so it can help others!
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