Three Ways to Jumpstart Your Bible Study Habit
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If you’ve ever sat down with your Bible, opened it to a random spread and stared at the page, wondering where to begin, you’re not alone. Studying the Bible can seem like an overwhelming task, especially when you’re newer to reading the Bible. Perhaps it’s hard to find where a specific book is, or more challenging still, the stories you’re familiar with are buried amidst chapters of unfamiliar material. Don’t worry! We’ve all been here at one time or another, whether that’s early on the journey or further along in our walk with God—because there’s always something we can learn from God’s Word! The psalmist David once told God “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalms 119:11 Psalms 119:11Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
American King James Version×).
How can we hide God's Word in our hearts unless we take the time to read and study it? I’d like to share three strategies I’ve found helpful when I feel stuck and don’t know where to begin.
Some of the easiest studies can be topic or word studies. I might begin by picking the word “faith” and searching it in a Bible app, online or in the index at the back of my Bible. Reading all of the verses about faith could be a study in itself, as I gain a fuller perspective on that topic, or it might lead me to an intriguing scripture I haven’t noticed before. For instance, read James 1:3 James 1:3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.
American King James Version×: “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” This phrase alone makes an interesting connection between faith and patience. You can enhance your study by researching both of these concepts to see how they fit together. When you’re ready to get more in-depth, you can use a concordance to check what a word meant in the original language. For example, there are multiple Greek words translated “love” in English, but they have different meanings for different kinds of love, such as agape (godly love) and philia (brotherly love). This will enhance your understanding of the verses you read.
When I first began to read the Bible on my own, my dad encouraged me to write down any questions I had so I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to ask them later. This has proved to be a helpful method of study. I like to read entire passages of Scripture at a time, especially when there’s a story flow to it, such as the passage about Noah’s ark or Daniel in the lion’s den. So, if there’s something I have questions about, I write it down on a piece of paper or make a note on my phone so I can come back to it later. I might not have time to address the question at the moment, but the list of collected questions becomes an excellent resource for future study ideas. This method also works for listening to sermons or even topics that come up in conversation. A great resource for helping to answer some of the questions you have is our Bible Questions and Answers page.
In order to develop a daily Bible study habit, I began a journal in which I wrote a page worth of notes each day. At first, it wasn’t a lot. Just a few comments on what I had read. Then I began challenging myself to write a couple pages of notes or use a bigger notebook so I had space to get more in-depth. In time, once I had established the daily habit, I stepped away from using the notebook every day, but made sure I always carved out that time to study, even if it was in a different method, like a Bible reading plan on my phone.
Bible study is important for growing in knowledge of God’s way. The Bible describes a group of people called the Bereans who “were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11 Acts 17:11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
American King James Version×). Let’s follow their example and make Bible study a regular practice in our lives! If you’d like to learn more about Bible study and other methods of spiritual growth, read our free booklet, Tools for Spiritual Growth.