With the New Year and New Year Resolutions, some will resolve to study their Bibles more. This is a commendable resolution, but most people will give up on their resolutions. This is usually because someone tries to go “cold-turkey” giving something up or all in on starting something new. Gradual steps in making something a habit tends to be the best route. Therefore, I’m offering 5 steps to help one study their Bible more and better this year.
1. Read for the Sake of Reading
We tend to treat the Bible as a textbook or magic book with all the answers to life’s problems. Yes, the bible does give us answers to life, especially the greatest two commandments: Love God and Love Others (Matt 22:36 – 40). But it is much more than a reference book or a magic 8 ball. It is history, story, poetry, and a love letter.
I’m always telling my wife that I need a good novel to read. I can read within a good novel within days. But I also enjoy reading non-fiction. These tend to take me a little longer to read through, though. The Bible is one of the best stories written. It’s the story of God’s love and pursuit of mankind. It tells of battles for His people and uses poetry to declare His love for us and our love for Him. What an amazing book to read when one desires something good to read!
If you want to study your Bible more and better, then begin reading it for the sake of reading it. Whether you pick a section divided by subheadings, a chapter at a time, or until you can’t read any further that day, then at least you’re reading your Bible. This will help you make a habit out of reading it.
2. Meditate and Pray About What You Just Read
Once you’ve made a habit out of reading your Bible, the begin meditating and praying about what you read. Maybe something stuck out to you or it is a prescriptive passage teaching us to do something, and you need to think and pray about how to apply it to your life. Taking time to think about what we’ve read helps us to remember it. Plus, not all passages are easily understandable the first time we read it.
3. Journal or Take Notes about Your Reading
The Bible teaches us plenty about God, sin, how to love one another, the history of God interacting with His people, theology, etc. Reading and meditating on the passages are good steps to help one remember and internalize these things. Studies have also proven that we are more likely to remember things when we write them down.
Whether you simply write down your prayer or some key things you learned from the passage, keep a journal. This will help you remember what you’ve read. Also, this will allow you to go back and see how you’ve grown spiritually, in your relationship with the Lord, and your knowledge of scripture.
4. Use a Devotional
Devotions can act like mini sermons helping us to better understand the passage. They may teach you something you didn’t already know or make you think about something differently.
It is also alright to question or challenge what the author of the devotional says. Scripture almost always only has one meaning, but can have multiple applications. Take to heart what scripture says over a devotional, and if you need more clarification, then ask your pastor.
5. Read Commentaries
This is like using a devotional, but a little more in depth. There are two types of commentaries: sermon or devotional based and academic (others may label these differently). An example of a sermon styled commentary is John MacArthur’s New Testament commentary series. It flows like one of his sermon notes, or devotion. This does not mean it is not beneficial, though. He does discuss the context of the passage and explains key Greek words. These types of commentaries tend to be easier to read because academic commentaries focus on breaking down and explaining the language, comparing it to similar or contrasting passages, and looking at historical and cultural context.
If you are serious about learning as much as possible about scripture, then I highly recommend reading commentaries of various authors and styles.
Everyone studies differently and meet their needs differently. I suggest at least following the first 3 steps: reading, praying, and journaling. These are good skills for us to have in pursuing a relationship with the Lord and carry over to different aspects of our spiritual walk. Devotionals and commentaries help teach us more about the passages. However you get in the habit of studying the Bible, the ultimate goal is a more fervent pursuit of Christ.
What are some tips, advice, or suggestions you would give to help someone study scripture? Comment below