If you Google Bible study, you’ll find there are over 315 million – MILLION – results. Everything from books to guides to commentaries – you name it, it’s out there.
But the thing that God has been sharing with me lately is that if I’m so focused on the study, I’m going to miss HIM. Which is missing the biggest, most important part and purpose of Bible study.
Devotions, topical books that are Biblically based – those are all good things that He can speak through and add to our lives, but they aren’t His direct Word.
And HE is the whole point of Bible study.
Getting to know the one Creator, developing that relationship with Him, having those conversations as we read His Word directly. Those are the lasting fruits of the work we do during Bible Study.
So how do we jump from maybe no time in the Word, or time reading 5 minute devotions because our lives are sooooooo busy, or reading “expert” interpretations about the Bible and Biblical living?
Open Your Bible
I set aside all the books on my shelves (plural, because I had a lot of them) when I realized I was substituting Bible Study for other “experts'” interpretations about the Bible and how God wants me to live.
And instead, I opened my Bible. I could have started anywhere, but I began at the very beginning. I mean, that’s where Julie Andrews says is the very best place to start, right?
Seriously, though, I knew I needed historic context for what I know is in the New Testament. And if the first 5 books of the Bible are important enough for some belief systems to memorize, the least I can do is study it! So I began with Genesis 1:1.
Read Carefully + Contextually
This is not speed-reading. This is not trying to get through the entire Bible in a year or a month.
This is Savor-Reading. Think of your favorite dessert, meal, or time. Maybe it’s an incredible chocolate souffle, or the most tender steak, or curled up with a blanket in front of a crackling fire. Those are the moments we soak up and savor.
And that’s exactly what we should do with the Word of God. So take your time. Note specific words that jump off the page at you.
If something doesn’t make sense, then go to a commentary, or search up some contextual notes for the time period. If you have a Study Bible, look in the footnotes and quickly flip to some of the cross-reference verses.
Allow those ideas to roll around in your thoughts for a moment. Be willing to the ideas that God may present to you. Listen for a specific verse that He allows to grip your heart.
Without the letters from the disciples, we wouldn’t have the New Testament. Without the Laws, historic documents, songs (Psalms) and Proverbs, we wouldn’t have the Old Testament. Writing is important and lasting.
So take notes. They don’t have to be fancy, or seemingly world-changing. Make notes in your Bible margins. Use notebook paper to record verses, thoughts, prayers.
Or use our Bible Study Worksheet!
This is the actual format I use during Bible Study! As God lays a verse on my heart, I sit with it. Talk with Him about it, cross-reference verses as He brings them to mind, and look up the context of them. Then I write.
What has He shown me about: Him? His Word? Me? Others? Relationships? Life?
These are the questions I answer in my notes that I write. On the back of the page, I list prayers for specific requests that are brought to mind, or on-going.
Then, I review prayers from previous days and mark any changes, or put on my to-do list any people I should check in with about their requests.
Close with Prayer
Since no time in Bible Study is complete without a closing conversation, I always close in prayer. This where where I review those notes I’ve made, as well as the specific prayer requests, and petition God for His will in each of those situations. It’s also a great reminder to surrender the day to Him as I move out of this sweet time of prayer and intimacy with Him.
While it seems like this would be a study that takes an hour at least to do, it can actually be done in any amount of time.
You have the flexibility to read as many or as few verses as God leads you. The amount of time you research the context is entirely up to you as well. Plus, you’re not limited to just one time of the day.
This is a study style that can last throughout the entire day as you are able to reclaim moments of time back away from the world and submit them to God – much in the same way that we might think about a loved one and send a text message to them!
If you’d like to make Bible Study and Prayer time more intentional try using this same format! And if you’d like to begin this purposeful journey with lasting results, join me in January for our New Year Prayer Challenge with this study format type as we learn through James together and begin a NEW DECADE with intentional Bible Study and Prayer time!