I love Bible study. God’s Word is miraculous and amazing. Stop and think about this just a moment. In the Bible, the God of the universe has revealed Himself, His character, His ways, and His purposes. To us! You and I can come to know the one true God through the Bible.
There are many different ways we can study. What I share below is essentially what I do every day when I open the Bible. Some days I spend more time than other days. You can use this basic framework in even just a few minutes. This “study” method will help you not just read your Bible, but also glean the truth God has for you and your life today.
3 “Rs” to Effective Daily Bible Study
- Have a plan– A reading plan will help with consistency and context cutting down on frustration with your daily time with God. It’s always easier to begin reading if you know where you’ll be reading when you open your Bible. (I have several free Bible reading plans right here on my site. Check out the Free Resources page! And… If you’d like some structure, encouragement and accountability in your daily Bible reading, check out my Facebook group, “Reading the Bible Together.”)
- Read prayerfully– Before you begin, ask God to teach you. Ask Him to open your mind and heart to not only understand what you’re reading, but also to be willing to apply His truth to your life. Keep praying while you read! Ask God questions about what you’re reading. He wants you to understand.
- Read multiple times– God’s Word is packed with wonderful things. It’s easy to miss details and even deep spiritual truth with just one reading. Choose a Bible reading plan that has daily readings manageable enough to give you time to read the passage two or three times.
- Read in different translations – If you have time, reading in different translations will also increase understanding. (For more about Bible translations or for help choosing a new Bible see “3 Steps to Help You Choose a New Bible.”)
Please don’t ask what the Scripture “means to you.” (Major pet peeve by the way…) Every Scripture passage in the Bible has ONE meaning – what God meant when the Scripture was first written. Although there is just one meaning, God’s Word has endless application. Our task in this step is to discover through observation of the text the original meaning of the passage. (Side note: Before you begin observing, make sure you understand the context of the passage. If you aren’t sure what this mean, check out this post: “4 Things to Consider for Biblical Context.”)
Although you may not find every one of the following in every passage, here are some things you should look for in each passage:
- Truths about God– The Bible is first and foremost a book about God. He is everywhere – in every passage, on every page. It may be blatant or subtle, but He will be there. Looks for truths about His nature, His character, His ways, and His purposes.
- Key Words & Phrases– Repetition in God’s Word is not accidental. If you see words and phrases repeated, take note. God is trying to point to something important.
- Important facts – Mark any facts you see in the passage that will help you understand what’s happening. Things like people, places, numbers can be key to comprehension.
- Commands – The Bible is full of commands. Some are one-time commands for specific individuals at a specific time. Others are for all God’s people for all time. For instance, “love one another” is applicable to us today!
- Spiritual principles– There will be a lot of overlap here with “truths about God.” However, eternal spiritual principles impact our daily lives. For instance, Psalm 1 teaches that those who meditate constantly on God’s Word will thrive spiritually and live fruitful lives for God’s Kingdom.
Depending on your preference, you can mark these in your Bible, takes notes in a journal, or record them in some other way. I use a journaling Bible with an extra-wide, lined journaling column. I make study notes there and I use a highlighting system to help me observe the passage. (For more on my highlighting method see “Bible Highlighting for More Effective Study.”)
Knowledge of God’s Word is never the end game. Application that leads to spiritual transformation is always our goal. So, once we’ve read and understood, let’s ask God to show us how to apply these truths to our lives. The acronym PROBE can help us apply these truths to our lives:
- Prayer – Is there something in the passage I can pray for myself or others?
- Repentance – Is there a sin or area of disobedience I need to confess and turned away from?
- Obedience – Is there an action I need to take or a decision I need to make?
- Believe – Is there something I need to believe about God?
- Express – Is there a praise or thanksgiving I need to voice to God?
What’s your favorite way to study the Bible?