The Spirit will teach you everything. - John 14:26
How can I get more from my Bible reading?
There is no shortcut in Bible study. If you want to find what God has for you in scripture you will have to dig. There are some things you can do to make your study time more profitable. This brochure outlines an approach to Bible study which can help you both with devotional reading and with deeper study.
Gather Materials - have pen, paper, highlighters or other markers and all materials you will need for study available.
Conditions - Find a place where you can study. If you study well with music playing, put some on. If you prefer quiet, arrange for a quiet place.
Resources - Get a small, well-selected set of study materials. For suggestions see the back panel.
Pray specifically for an open mind to understand, an open heart to receive, enabling grace for the actions you will need to take.
Claim these promises:
But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away. (1 John 1:9)
I will sprinkle you with clean water, and you will be clean and acceptable to me. I will wash away everything that makes you unclean, and I will remove your disgusting idols. I will take away your stubborn heart and give you a new heart and a desire to be faithful. You will have only pure thoughts, because I will put my Spirit in you and make you eager to obey my laws and teachings.
Get an Overview of the Passage
Read the passage multiple times. Twelve or more can be a real blessing, but any number from 3 times up will help. Memorizing is useful, at least of key texts. (This will also require you to select key texts.) Read from different Bible versions, to help you with your concentration and to open up different ways of understanding the passage.
At this point don't use commentaries, study notes, your concordance, anything which takes your concentration off of the passage you are studying.
Study the Background
Find out who wrote the passage, to whom it was written, what is the situation being addressed, and what type of literature it is.
(See the chart below for some types of literature in the Bible.)
Meditate, Question, Research, Compare (Repeat as needed)
Meditate on the passage. If you are having difficulty meditating, think about telling someone else about the passage, such as a friend in need of encouragement, someone who is unsaved, or a child. Think: What questions might they ask about this passage? You can formulate thought questions or fact questions. Fact questions are about what the author is actually saying. Thought questions may lead you to other revelations well beyond the intended statement of the passage.
You can use outlining at this stage, comparison to other scriptures, to writers in church history, or to current experience. Ask: What similar experience are we having today? Can this help me understand the passage. For example, if you have had a vision will that help you understand Ezekiel's vision in Ezekiel 1? Ask your friends about experiences they have had.
Some historical writers you might consult include Jerome, Aquinas, Augustine, Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon and many, many others.
Share your Thoughts
Ask yourself how this has applied in your experience. Get to know the person you are sharing with. Share your experience and then the text. Always work from your own personal experience with God.
Store up the experiences your friends share with you to use in studying further scripture.
1 Kings 19:11-18
|Poem||Song of Songs, Psalm 78, 104, 119|
|Song/Hymn||Song of Miriam (Exodus 15:1-18), Song of Deborah (Judges 5), Psalm 19, 27|
|History||1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Nehemiah, Ezra|
|Doctrinal teaching||Matthew 5-7|
|Wisdom Literature||Proverbs, (this may overlap with Poems)|
|Prophetic Oracle||Isaiah 14:1-23|
|Vision report||Ezekiel 1,Daniel 7, 8|
|Prayer||Psalm 12, Daniel 9|
Example Prayer for Bible Study
Lord, take from me any thought habits which will keep me from hearing. Make me open to your voice and your voice alone.
Lord, help me to accept your people as my brothers and sisters in your kingdom let me learn and grow from both their weaknesses and their strengths.
Lord, I trust you to reveal yourself to your people the way you know is best. Let your will be done.
Lord, let me not only recognize but obey your voice. Let my actions be conformed to your will. Help me to love my neighbor as myself.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
HarperCollins Bible Dictionary
New International Bible Dictionary
The NIV Exhaustive Concordance.
Bibles with study notes
Oxford Study Bible (REB)
New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV)
Spirit Filled Life Bible
The NIV Study Bible (Zondervan)
The Learning Bible (CEV)
Many study Bibles include good Bible atlases, but a separate Bible Atlas or world history atlas can be useful.
Oxford Bible Atlas
The Harper Atlas of World History
The Cambridge Companion to the Bible
Eerdman's Handbook to the Bible
All scripture quotations taken from the Contemporary English Version, Copyright © 1995 American Bible Society.
Copyright © 2004, Henry E. Neufeld
Taken from the Participatory Study Series