What is the right way to read and study your Bible?
My greatest encouragement to you on this topic is to just do it. Don’t get hung up on doing it perfectly. Trying too hard to follow a specific method or formula can rob you of the joy of simply delighting in God’s Word (Psalm 1).
(More about this in The Ideal Quiet Time.)
Your Bible Is Your Food
That said, I strongly believe in the value of learning and growing and developing Bible study skills over time. It’s important to understand how to read a verse in context, or to recognize the difference between reading poetry or history or the Gospels.
My own foundation of Bible reading and study have literally sustained me and kept me going through some of life’s darkest valleys. Reading and studying my Bible is truly one of my favorite things to do.
“Variety Is The Spice Of Life”
I’ve gone about it in many different ways over the course of my life. Some ways have ministered to my spirit more effectively than others, but God’s Word is always living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and worth my time.
In case you could use a fresh idea or need to change things up in your own Bible reading/study, here are a few of the methods I’ve used along with some other tips.
What To Read
- Read one book of the Bible per month: If it’s a short book, you’ll get to know it deeply and thoroughly. You may even have parts of it naturally memorized at the end of the month! If it’s a longer book, you’ll get a good feel for the book and experience the value of reading it all at once.
- Proverb of the day: Whatever the date is on the calendar, read that chapter from the book of Proverbs.
- A Psalm (or 5) each day: As with the Proverbs, read the chapter that corresponds to the date. If you want to read more than one, add 30 and read that chapter, too (1, 31, 61, 91, 121). If you read 5 Psalms a day, you’ll get through the whole book in a month.
- Word/Topical Study: Pick a word or topic and highlight it every time you come across it as you read through a book of the Bible. What do you learn about that topic/word from the text? Use a concordance or online tool like Bible Gateway, if you want to explore the word/topic across the entire Bible at once. But if you do that, I still recommend this exercise within the context of one whole book. It always surprises me how much I glean from one book when I “camp out” there.
- Read through the Bible in a year:
- The One-Year Bible
- The Chronological Bible
- The Daily Walk Bible
- various other Bible-in-a-year plans
- Other Bible reading plans: Ligonier has a great collection for you to choose from.
- Inductive Bible Study: I initially learned this via Kay Arthur’s Precepts for Life program, working through the books of Isaiah, Daniel, and Matthew. I have since enjoyed teaching from several others on how to study this way and it has “evolved” into my natural study method.
- Scripture reading
- Observe what it says
- Apply it to my own life
- Pray about it
- Bible study books and groups: Each one has it’s own focus and method. Some are more in-depth than others. Some take more time than others.
While You Read
- Context is key! Any time you refer to one verse, be sure to read it in context. Read the whole passage so that you can accurately discern the purpose of the text.
- Observation: What does the text say? Use the 5 W’s – Who? What? Where? When? Why? And How?
- Interpretation: What does the text mean? Not “What does it mean TO ME?” It can be helpful to think of it as “Why did God want this passage included in His Word? What does GOD mean by it?”
- Application: How does this apply to me? What do I learn about Jesus? What do I learn about myself? Is there any sin I’ve been made aware of that I need to repent of?
Consider using this helpful Guide for Meditating On Scripture.
If you’d like a handy printout to slip inside your Bible with reminders and suggestions, I’ve got a free printable for you. When you sign up to receive the blog newsletter (so far, it’s been very irregular), you’ll automatically receive my Reference Guide for Time With Jesus.
Along with Bible reading and study ideas, there are ideas for reviving your prayer life and a Quiet Time Calendar for personal accountability.
What About You?
What are you reading/studying these days? I’d love to hear about what your time in God’s Word looks like! Feel free to share in the comments.