How to Study the Bible is part of the Mrs. Disciple 101 series.
My sweet little baby turned one last week. Here he is…..
Isn’t he cute? This first week of toddlerhood, he began to do some of the things I am routinely training him to do. For example, I hoisted him up to the sink (no small job with this chunky monkey!) to wash hands. He reached out for the soap for the first time. Then he rubbed his hands together under the water without my help. His sleeves got a little wet, but I was so proud it didn’t matter.
I am an Occupational Therapist by trade. I know that people learn new ways to do things. It is my job to teach skills for living. But, when I see my little man start to do new big boy things, I am amazed at the capacity of the human mind to establish new patterns and routines.
How to Study the Bible
The Bible can be a big, overwhelming book. The one in my lap right now has 2,172 pages from title page to maps (it used to have more, but some of the maps fell out!). That is A LOT to read! Where do you start? How do you study the Bible?
I will tell you (since you asked!) that I choose early morning. I get up before everyone else so that I can capture the only quiet moment available in my day. Not only is it quiet because everyone is asleep, but my thoughts are quiet. If I wait until after 6:00 am when my mama-day starts, my brain is on to my to do list and I have a very hard time calling it back to the quiet. If I wait for the quiet of naps or after family hours, I have a list of things to do fighting for my attention. Or I am so tired, the words blur with fatigue.
There is precedent for early morning quiet time. Abraham met the Lord in the early morning (Genesis 19:27). And, of course, our Teacher chose the quiet hours of the morning.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
Pick the time that works for you and stick with it. Set an alarm. Write it on your planner. Make it an appointment that you cannot reschedule.
Place. Jesus picked a solitary place (Mark 1:35). He found a place void of distractions and people wanting his attention. This will look different for each of us. Because I am up before my family, my place requires only a chair for sitting and a table for my coffee.
Some people have a favorite chair, a closet, a quiet bedroom. Maybe even a locked bathroom! Wherever you can shut out the distractions of the day from some time with God.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Matthew 6:6
Supplies. Once you pick your place, keep your supplies there so you are ready to go. There are essentials… A Bible in a translation you can understand. A notebook to record your observations and responses. A pen. And there are optionals… Ear buds and a MP3 loaded with worship music. A devotional or book to help guide your study. A coaster for your coffee or sweet tea. Note cards to write encouraging notes to friends on your prayer list. A lap top or tablet for e-journaling or online study resources.
Keep your supplies in the same place so you can begin when you arrive in your sacred spot. Take a few extra minutes each night to make sure you have everything ready for your encounter with God the next morning.
Plan. Sit down with a plan. This is highly personal. Find a reading plan that does not overwhelm you. If this is a new discipline for you, you may want to shy away from those “read through the Bible in a year” plans. You might get discouraged around Leviticus and give up your new routine. Start small–a few verses, even. Pick a plan that gets you excited to open up the Bible.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Pick a book of the Bible and just start reading. John, Philippians, and James are some great places to start. Read one verse, one chapter, the whole book.
- Follow a reading plan such as One Year Bible Online, Bible Gateway, or purchase a Bible that is set up for daily reading.
- Subscribe to an online study that prompts daily with scripture reading and a devotional thought. My current favorites are She Reads Truth and Proverbs 31 Ministries.
- Read a book by a reputable author. There are hundreds of Bible study books on the shelves. Many Christian authors provide scripture within their text. Choose a topic that you would like to study and dig in! Recommended resources can be found at the end of this post.
Do not trade a book or devotional for actually reading God’s word. Books can provide wonderful insight. But, they are written by men and women and cannot take the place of Holy Scripture. A dear friend’s mother encouraged me years ago to open The Word and hear what God has to say to me directly. I have remembered that bit of wisdom through the years. I love to read books, but I try to make a practice of turning the pages of the Bible myself in between studies and books.
Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will mediate on your wonders. Psalm 119:27
We will look at how to respond during Bible study next time. Until then, pick a time, a place, and a plan. Listen to all that God has to say to you. And enjoy being in His presence!
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