The Bible is an amazing book. It is extremely complex and extremely long. It is comprised of 66 books, by 40 authors but it is all God inspired. As Christians it is one of the best tools we have to navigate this life in a way that honors God. Whether you are a new Christian or you have been following God for the last 40 years there are a few practical basics that we all need to adhere to in order to effectively study the Bible.
1. Get a Bible you can understand.
According to Google, as of September 2016 the bible has been translated into 636 different languages. Therefore it stands to reason that there is a Bible out there that you can read and understand. So check online or at your local Christian bookstore for a bible that makes sense when you read it. All versions of the bible are NOT created equally, especially those that have been translated to English. For some people a King James Version is going to give them a headache and for others they can’t get enough of it. Click the link for more information on the various versions of the bible.
2. Get a journal.
You will be taking a LOT of notes on the scriptures you read, so find a journal that fits your fancy, and start writing down what God teaches you as you read his word. Write down your prayers and when they get answered. Write out the revelations you have as you read. Write out your doubts, fears, and frustrations as you go through life. Write down EVERYTHING.
3. Pick a place to study.
Don’t try to get to fancy with this, it doesn’t have to be heavily decorated, but you should find a place where you can be alone with God. For some people it’s a locked bathroom away from the kids. For me, it’s my kitchen table after my husband goes to work. Just pick a place and meet there consistently with God.
4. Start Small
Don’t try to go over 10-15 minutes and don’t try to read multiple chapters at a time. I say this because when you take the bible in small chunks you won’t feel pressed to try to understand the entire book in one sitting. Take your time and chew on a few scriptures, then sit quietly and listen to what God has to say about how you should apply those scriptures to your life.
5. Pray. Pray. Pray.
Pray before you read your bible, while you are reading your bible, and after you finish. Talk to God as you take notes and listen to what he is saying to you while you are reading. Prayer is communication; it is not a speech, just a simple conversation, so take your time, talk and listen.
6. Use your tools wisely
There are two things other than the Holy Spirit that make my bible study effective; my concordance and biblical commentaries. My concordance helps me make the word of God personal to whatever I am going through. Most bibles have the concordance in the back, so when I am having a bout with anger I can flip back to the index and find ALL of the scriptures in my bible about anger. Once I do that I study those scriptures and I break them down. Rebuilding arguments and searching for God’s say on the matter. In my research I discover how he treated angry people and how he handled his anger. By the time I am finished I have a whole host of notes to review about God’s perspective on anger and how it should be handled. Doing this makes it easier to apply it to my life.
Now biblical commentaries come in many forms. Blog posts, sermons, Facebook posts, and even the notes underneath a passage you are studying (especially if you have an Amplified bible). All of these tools help me to see the scriptures from different perspectives. I can understand how God explained the passage to the commentators and if they are really good they will give me the tools on how to apply it to my daily life. Two websites that have been especially helpful are gotquestions.org and desiringgod.org
The biggest part of studying the bible is to remember that it is just that, a STUDY. This is not something that you will understand in one day. But by being consistent, using your tools wisely, praying, starting small, picking a place to meet God, getting a journal, and getting a bible you can understand you will be well on your way. Before you know it will consume you to the point that you don’t want to put it down.
Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Click the link to Tune in at 7 p.m. EDT for my #Fridayflo on giving God lip service.