If the Bible is our guidebook, then surely we need to know how to use it. However, it’s often difficult to find a practical Bible Study Guide.
Could that be the reason why many people don’t study their Bible? I don’t know for certain, as I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons why people don’t study the Bible. However, I think most are like I was a few years ago – I just didn’t know how to study the Bible, nor did I really understand it.
I took my Bible to church with me every Sunday and in college it actually rode around in the passenger seat of my car many days, but read it? – no, it was to follow along with the Pastor on Sunday so he could explain it to me.
I soon realized the primary reason I didn’t understand the Bible was because I didn’t have a translation I could easily understand. Once I got a new Bible in a different translation, with study notes I found it easier to understand and I began to read the Bible more.
For those of you who are like I was, below is a practical Bible study guide that I’ve learned and used successfully over the past few years.
My Bible Study Guide – A Five Step Process
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
My personal Bible study guide includes this simple five step process. Using it, I’ve discovered my study time is more effective and I understand more about Bible.
Step 1: Pray
Before you even open your Bible to begin studying it, pray. Ask God to reveal Himself to you in His Word and give you understanding to apply it to your life. Also, ask Him to help you to be disciplined to study His Word daily.
Step 2: Decide which Bible study approach and method you wish to use
There are several different Bible study approaches and methods that can be used. None of which are necessarily right or wrong nor better than the other, but rather you must select the one that is most applicable to meet your needs. A description of several common Bible study approaches and methods is listed below.
Step 3: Get the proper Bible study tools
Having and using the proper Bible study tools is critical. Proper tools supplement your understanding from the Holy Spirit to help increase your enlightenment as you study the Bible.
Step 4: Study His Word
I’m sorry, but you cannot acquire knowledge of the Word by osmosis. You must open God’s Word and begin to read it. Don’t just take everyone’s interpre- tation at face value – study the Bible for yourself and ask God to reveal Himself to you. You’ll find the more you read it, the more you will desire to read it.
Step 5: Pray
Upon completion of your study, thank God for all that He has revealed to you and ask Him to seal His Word in your heart that you may apply it to your life. Also, ask God to help you handle His Word correctly.
Bible Study Approaches
There are five common approaches to studying the Bible. The most common is the Application Approach, where you will read a passage of scripture and then think about how you can apply it to your life.
Another common approach for many of us is the Hit and Miss Approach. This approach is just as the name suggests, you read a passage several times, likely in several translations, but you have no logical pattern to follow.
The opposite of this approach is the Methodical Approach. With this approach, an orderly and logical pattern is followed, often resulting in more insight.
The Commentary Approach, while valuable, is probably my least favorite because after reading a passage of scripture, you read a commentary to explain it to you. I shy away from this approach until I’ve applied other approaches and/or methods because I want the Holy Spirit to be my primary teacher, not the commentary writer.
The last approach is probably my favorite for the reason I just mentioned. The Holy Spirit Approach suggests you read a passage, then allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and reveal insights unto you. This approach can be frustrating for some because we may not be able to clearly hear the voice of God or may be too impatient to wait for the Holy Spirit to speak. Also, this approach should not be used as an excuse for not using a systematic method of studying the Bible. Each of these approaches has benefits and can be used to help you study God’s Word.
Bible Study Methods
Just as there are several approaches to studying the Bible, there are also several methods to actually studying the Word. The first is a Book Study, in which you study a particular book of the Bible. This type of study allows you to gain a more in depth understanding of the overall theme and purpose of a book.
A Character Study is a study of a particular person in the Bible. In this study you will learn more about a Bible character’s name, heritage, cultural background as well as their significant life events.
Since the Bible is not written in chronological order, a Chronological Study is a study of the Bible based on the sequence in which events occurred rather than how they appear in the Bible.
A Topical Study is probably one of the most popular methods. In this study, you will select a specific topic of interest to research and study. A concordance will be required and you must be sure to read the scripture in context when doing this type of study. Read the verses before and after a particular verse to ensure proper understanding.
Finally, a Word or Expository Study is an exhaustive study of the Bible word by word and verse by verse. You will research each word and its meaning in the original text as well as each verse to understand the true meaning. This type of study can be very time consuming, but you will gain a deeper understanding of the Bible by utilizing this approach.
Bible Study Tools
While you’ve learned more about Bible study approaches and methods, this Bible study guide would be incomplete without reviewing the specific tools you will need. Just like you wouldn’t leave the house all dressed up without shoes, you can’t embark upon your study of the Word without the proper tools.
First and foremost, you will need a study Bible in a translation that’s easy for you to understand. A Study Bible contains helpful notes, scripture cross references, book summaries and more. While a study Bible is a must, it is also a good idea to have other Bibles in different translations to use during your study. You can supplement your collection by using online resources to look up scriptures in different translations.
Another important tool, is a Bible Dictionary. A Bible dictionary is key in that it has definitions for biblical terms you may not find in a regular dictionary as well as Biblical references to the word.
An exhaustive Concordance is an alphabetical listing of every word in the Bible. It also includes the original Greek or Hebrew meaning of each word and identifies which meaning is applicable to the particular scripture reference where it is used.
The final must have Bible study tool is actually a combination of tools – Pen, Paper and a Highlighter. There was a time when I was afraid to write in my Bible. This is Holy Bible, I thought – I can’t write in this. Boy was I wrong! My mentor once told me ‘anytime the Holy Spirit reveals something to you write it down’. She said, ‘you can’t depend on your intellect to remember because it wasn’t your thought’.
In order to have an effective study time, you must take notes and write down what the Holy Spirit is revealing to you. Today, my study Bible is quite reflective of the fact that I took my mentor’s advice to heart – there’s writing, notes and highlighted sections all throughout it. But what’s more, my understanding and knowledge is far greater for heeding that advice.
Optional Bible study tools include commentaries, Bible atlas and Bible software. A commentary is an explanation of a text based on a particular commentator’s interpretation, so the content varies widely from commentary to commentary. A Bible Atlas provides more information on locations mentioned in the Bible and Bible software is helpful because it typically contains many, if not all, of these resources and place them at your fingertips via your computer.
So ladies, there you have it – a practical Bible Study Guide. The reality is if you don’t use the Bible, it can’t change you or help you grow.
Whatever you feed will grow. If you feed your spirit, more than you feed your flesh, your spirit will be stronger. However, the opposite is just as true. Feed you Spirit by studying the Bible.
Try this tip to help you get started studying the Bible.
Tip: Use a concordance to identify applicable scriptures for something you may be going through this week. Read those scriptures for help and encouragement.
Example: Look up the word ‘Fear’ in a concordance and you will find that word is mentioned in Psalms 27:1 and 2 Timothy 1:7. Look them up to find out what the Bible says about fear.
If you’re interested in participating in an online Bible study, enroll in The New School of the Spirit.
The Truth About the Bible – It’s Your Guidebook for Life. Get a basic understanding as well as learn the truth about the Bible and why it should be treasured.
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