In this article, I shared about the importance of reading the Bible and some great benefits we get from reading the Bible like increased knowledge of self and of God. Today, let’s dive into 5 ways to improve your Bible study time.
Bible study is an integral part of our walk with Christ. The Bible is where we can go for direction, comfort, edification and more.
Want to know more about who Jesus is to you? Read John. Trying to discover basic nuggets for living a focused and productive life? Proverbs has a few things for you. Maybe you want some instruction on what it looks like to live a Christian lifestyle? Pretty much all of Paul’s letters can help with this.
One problem a lot of Christians face is what I like to call “surface-level Bible study”. You know what I’m talking about. You wake up in the morning, grab your Bible, read a few verses or maybe even chapters, close the Bible and then move on with your day. Bible study? Check.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, but I do believe it shouldn’t be the main way we study. That’s why I advocate reading smaller chunks of the Bible. I never went past surface-level Bible reading when I tried to read large chunks of the Bible in one sitting. Once I discovered how much deeper I could go by taking smaller bites, I developed a quality over quantity mentality for my Bible study time.
One of my favorite Christian bloggers Arabah Joy explains this in her free 5-day Back to Bible challenge. She discusses the difference between going deep and going wide. If you’re interested, you should check in out here.
I believe that going deep into the Bible is essential for spiritual growth.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
How do we keep the Book of the law in our mouth, heart, and mind so that we can continually meditate on it? We must go deeper in how we read, understand and apply the Word. These 5 ways to improve your Bible study time and go deeper are tips I pray that you can apply to your own Bible study time.
5 Ways to Improve your Bible Study Time
Engage with the Word
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t” and I think that is such a true statement. There was a time when I saw my Bible as something sacred that I couldn’t write in or rough up. I kept it looking fresh and sitting on my nightstand, but that didn’t take me deeper into the word.
If you want to go deeper in the word, engage with it! Write in the margins when the Holy Spirit reveals something to you while you are studying. This journal Bible is created specifically for this and it’s the one I use.
If you are a visual learner, highlight in your bible using various colors to help you quickly pick out themes. I personally love writing and highlighting in my Bible because when I go back to a book or chapter I have read in the past I can easily identify things that were revealed to me when I first read it, colors help me differentiate instructions from promises from the character of the Lord and so on.
If you’re hesitant to write in your Bible I would first suggest that you pray about it and figure out what it is about the Bible that makes you apprehensive to “mark it up”, then I would say maybe you need a separate Bible for Bible study from the one you take out in public?
Something to think about.
I remember the first time I came across the Bible Journaling concept and I talked about it in this article. I was so in awe of being able to bring the Bible to life with pictures and colors and didn’t truly believe I had the talent to do the same thing.
I thought of myself as not being “artistic” – it took some self-talk to realize and accept that Bible journaling isn’t about being artistic but about moving deeper with the Word of God. Once I switched my mindset in how I thought of the process, I developed my favorite way to engage in the Word.
The process of taking a verse or a concept that stands out to you and making it art allows you to focus and be present with what you are reading. It also allows you to meditate on it and helps with committing that verse or concept to memory.
If you are someone who considers yourself to be artsy. You like to create pictures, express yourself with lettering and coloring, or connect better with content when you can get hands-on with it, why not translate that into your Bible study time?
Please note I didn’t say if you are good at art. This is about what you enjoy and connect with, not what you are skilled at. Bible journaling is not a competition or a quest for perfection. Doing this defeats the purpose which is to connect with God on a deeper level.
Invite the Holy Spirit
One mistake I used to make was reading the Bible without first praying. The Bible is such a complex and layered book—it is alive (Hebrews 4:12). Which means you can read a verse 5 times and potentially receive 5 different messages or interpret it 5 different ways.
Why then would we think that we can truly engage with and understand this book without the help of the Holy Spirit? Taking the time to invite the Holy Spirit to your Bible study will help you engage deeper with the world. Here’s a prayer for before you read the Bible to get you started.
We can humble ourselves and accept the limits of our minds when it comes to understanding the Word of God. We can be intentional about leaning on the Holy Spirit to reveal the mysteries of the plans of God to us.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Inviting the Holy Spirit can be done at any point in your Bible Study time, not just the beginning. There have been times when I have read a verse or verses multiple times and it made no sense to me. During these moments, I’ll pause and say a quick prayer along the lines of “Holy Spirit, help me understand what the Word is saying to me and how it applies to my life.”
Do I always immediately get a revelation? Nope. But often I can approach the Word with a different mindset and I see something I couldn’t see before.
Apply Your Research Skills
As I mentioned in the earlier section, the Bible is a complex and layered book that can be difficult to understand at first read. In addition, most us are not reading the Bible in its original languages – Hebrew and Greek. There’s a lot that can get lost in translation when we read the Bible.
This is where a concordance can help you get to the true meaning of a passage or phrase. I use the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible or the Blue Letter Bible App based on where I am doing my Bible study.
What you’ll find is that there are words that lose their meaning in English and when you look up what they mean in Hebrew (old testament) or Greek (new testament), what you are reading takes on a whole new meaning for you.
For example, in my FAB Prayer course on the third day, I talk about the importance of believing for our prayers. Believe in the Bible is the Greek word pisteuō. It means to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit or to place confidence in.
For me seeing that last part – to place confidence in – takes the word believe and makes it actionable. We act, walk and talk differently when we are confident in something. You can believe something and still not be confident in it.
Knowing that something is true does not always mean that you trust it. But with some research I can see that to put belief in action, I must demonstrate confidence in what I am believing in.
That is just one example of how looking up the original translation of a verse can bring a new level of understanding for you.
Make it Relevant
The last tip I’m sharing for improving your Bible study time is one that occurs but during and outside of your bible study time – make it relevant. It is one thing for us to read the Bible and get a revelation.
We move deeper in our walk with God when we take our revelations and turn them into application. As you read the Bible, engage with it by asking questions that relate to your life and your situation.
As you read ask yourself – how does this apply to me? What area of my life is this speaking to? What sin do I need to repent from you live out what I am reading? Who are the people in my life that I can practice this new skill/instruction/word with?
I personally think that this is how we can take the Words from the pages of the book and into our lives. My pastor once said something that stuck with me and I paraphrase but the main concept is this – when we move from revelation to application, that is when apprehension (understanding) occurs.
Finding ways to apply the word of God to your life allows you to move deeper in your understanding of the Word.
And there you have it, my 5 ways to improve your Bible study time. I personally use all of these (I still struggle with #5) in my personal Bible study time and they have allowed me to move better in my apprehension of the Word of God.