15 Practical Tips for Studying the Bible

If you missed the John Piper clip from yesterday…click on over and watch it! It will be worth the three minutes. Since we know that we can not grow in our faith apart from the word of God, I am not going to go too much into the why behind study. Watch the video…nuf’ said.

Digging

 

So, in light of that, here are some hints that I have found helpful in regards to studying the Bible.

1. Pray. Apart from the Holy Spirit, we can not understand scripture on our own. We need him to give us wisdom, clarity and understanding. Before you open your bible, pray. Ask him to remove any distractions in your heart and mind. Ask him to make himself clear. Ask him to lead you to truth, convict you of sin and turn your eyes toward him. Then, as you read, stop to pray through scripture as you see it pertaining to you. When you finish, ask him to make these truths real in your life. Ask him to help you apply the practical things, and renew your mind with the heart things. Prayer is critical!

2. Set aside some time. Be as consistent as you can. Every day can’t possibly look the same. But making time is critical. We all make time for the things that we think are important. Set a goal. I know people who have made a deal with themselves to not go to bed without reading their bible. Do what you have to do. But, if you have the option of doing it every morning, or every evening, try to keep your times consistent. That more you can do that, the better the likelihood of building a habit.

3. Get accountability. I need this! I need people who will deal with my junk, and not let me slide on this. Bible reading isn’t a chore…but it also isn’t always warm and fuzzy either. Sometimes we need others to help us in building this discipline. Yes, there is grace for when we don’t read, but our spiritual health greatly depends on our time in the word, encountering God through what he has revealed to us.

4. Find tools that help you. Do you like Beth Moore? Great, go through one of her studies. Do you like an online study…use it. Do you love Bible reading plans…there are thousands. Precept, Bible Study Fellowship, all awesome tools. None of those are the right ones.  Just use what works for you. Just be sure that whatever you use, is a tool that points you back to the word. Devotionals are great, but you need time in the word. Christian living books can be game-changers, but they are not THE WORDS of God!

5. Read entire books (of the Bible) through. Don’t just dabble with a few verses here and there. There are absolutely times when a verse in and of itself can speak to you. However, the Bible is written as letters, poems, songs,  or narrative stories. Each verse has a context that lends itself to the overall meaning of that individual verse. So, before you dig deep into one or two verses, go ahead and read either the whole book, or at a minimum, the whole chapter. This will put your verses in context so that you are better able to understand their meaning.

6. Reread  the same chapter, or set of verses, several times over. God can always bring something new to light. So, if you come across a chapter, or several verses that you would like to dig into further, read that section over a few times. Sometimes reading the same chapter each day, or each week,  can bring out things you would have never seen if you had just read it once.

7. Look for repetitive words, phrases and themes. The whole of scripture is one united work, although it is divided up into parts. It is  consistent in its themes, ideas and language. If something is repeated over and over…then it is probably something you should take note of. When I repeat directions to a student, it is because I want that student to really understand what I am saying. If God repeats himself in scripture..then there is a reason, so pay attention to those things.

8. Use good resources. Find good commentaries. Read good blogs about scripture. Listen to solid sermons. Use theologically sounds studies. Tomorrow I want to give you some resources that I think are pretty solid…so come back for more on that later!

9. When you don’t understand, ask God to clarify. While much of scripture is obvious, there are many instances where it can be hard to determine the meaning of a particular passage. There are some things we will never fully understand (so we walk by faith), but God is able to give us clarity on even the tricky things. Sometimes it takes a lot of studying. Sometimes it takes some discussion, some debate, some outside reading. Sometimes, God just reveals it to you while you are reading the same passage over again. When you come up against something you are not sure about, ask God to make it clear. Then watch, study, and wait. Continue to pray for clarity, and know that there is grace for when we don’t get it right. We need to live in the tension of our fallen, limited nature and how it affects our ability to understand. But the spirit living in us, is able to reveal all truth to us. So ask him to do so in faith!

When you don't understand, ask God to clarify. Click To Tweet

10. Cross reference. Since the bible is one single unit with many different parts, there is never a time when there is a verse that is completely original. There are always other places in the word where that truth is talked about. So look at those. When you are studying 1John, read John at the same time. When you are reading Luke, check out Acts. When you are reading the gospels, read Isaiah.  In most Bibles there is a section with cross references for most verses. When you are studying, look some of those verses up. Compare and contrast them. Ask God to show  you how they all fit together.

12. Mark it up. Don’t be afraid to underline or write in your Bible. The book itself is just a book. The words are inspired, but the book is just a book. So underline away. If you are a precept lover get your colored pencils out. Mark your book in a way that makes it easy for you to reference back to what you have previously read.

13. Take notes. Write out themes that you see. Or questions that you have. Jot down key words, interesting facts or how one section of scripture relates to another. Write down your prayer in response to a scripture. Keep track of the things God is teaching you through his word. Reference them regularly.

14. Get a good Bible. This isn’t a necessity, it just makes studying a little more enticing. I am kind of a nerd. I love how books look and feel, so having one that I think is awesome, helps me to want to read it. I also love my ESV Study Bible. It has great notes, clear cross references and extremely helpful explanations at the beginning of each book. It also has tons of color maps. Please know, that you DO NOT NEED a fancy Bible to dig into God’s word. But it’s kind of like having nice workout clothes makes you want to work out….having a bible you love can make you want to read it! I suggest for studying purposes that you use either the ESV version, or the NASB version. And…if money is an issue, you can get both for free online!!!

15. Look for Jesus. All of scripture points directly to Christ. Sometimes it is obvious, and sometimes it isn’t. But prayerfully look for Jesus in everything you read. How does this passage show our need for him? How does this passage show us who he is? How does this passage show us what he has done on our behalf? How does this passage show me how he lived? How does this passage foreshadow his coming? All of scripture points to him, so ask God to help you see that clearly as you spend time in his word.

How does the passage I am reading point to Jesus?...and other questions to consider when reading your Bible. Click To Tweet

Tomorrow, I will be talking about some good resources. Then, we will talk about applying God’s word. In the meantime,  I would love to hear your tips as well! What have you found helpful in your own studying of God’s word?

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*Want a simple tool to help you learn to study God’s word?  Check out these Rooted Journals  and learn some basic Bible study skills. The journal takes you through Bible Study Basic training, touches on prayer, and then gives you some room to practice going through the books of Ephesians and Galatians!*

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10 Comments

  • Reply Resources for Bible Study | This Life I Live

    […] our intentional spiritual growth. I began with the why with this video from John Piper. Yesterday, I shared some practical tips for personal Bible study. Today, I want to share some of my favorite resources with you. Many of these are items I have talked […]

    October 19, 2013 at 4:27 am
  • Reply Spiritual Growth, Intentionally.This Life I Live | This Life I Live

    […] Day 18-Digging into God’s Word […]

    October 20, 2013 at 12:58 pm
  • Reply Yakelle

    Hi Danielle ! I literally just stumbled upon your blog on pinterest. And I just wanted to say that these are really great tips as well as great reminders for someone like me who is trying to continue to be an avid reader of the Bible ! Thank you soooo much for this ! =)

    P.S. – I have a html code on my blog of bible verses that update & change everyday for my visitors to hopefully come across. Here is a link below if you want to add it to yours as well !:

    http://www.verse-a-day.com/

    xoxo
    Yakelle

    August 3, 2014 at 12:07 am
  • Reply Taking time for Jesus

    […] 15 Ways to Dig into God’s Truth -Blog post […]

    August 7, 2014 at 9:38 am
  • Reply jacklyn

    I really enjoyed your tips. Thanks for the helpful information.

    October 2, 2014 at 11:19 am
    • Reply Danielle

      Thanks for stopping by! So glad you found something heplful!

      October 2, 2014 at 6:35 pm
  • Reply Tryca Gillespie

    Hello Danielle! These tips on bible studying is very helpful, I just wanted to commented and say thanks for sharing! I am also interested in other advice and articles. Please feel free to email me. Thanks, and God bless!

    May 26, 2015 at 4:57 pm
  • Reply Olivia

    Great stuff! Do you mind sharing tip number 11? Sorry if I overlooked it, but it didn’t see it in the post.

    October 24, 2015 at 9:15 am
    • Reply Danielle

      I guess there isn’t one :) This post has been live for years…and I’ve never noticed….I guess it really is only 14 tips :)

      October 26, 2015 at 9:24 pm
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