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It is so important for believers to spend time regularly reading and studying the Bible. But many struggle to know how to get started or are intimidated by the prospect of interpreting and applying God’s Word. Below is an excerpt from Living From the Secret Place that gives some practical tips for studying the Bible.
How to Study the Bible
God’s Word is an inexhaustible treasure, and there are so many reasons to read it on a regular basis. However, many believers find it intimidating to know how best to study and read the Bible. It’s a big book, and some question whether they are able to comprehend and apply it properly. Please know that reading, understanding, and applying the Scriptures is a lifelong process. We will be growing in this discipline for the remainder of our lives. Take it one step and one day at a time. Also know that God will help give understanding of His Word as you set your heart to seek Him and know Him more. Always ask for the guidance and revelation of the Holy Spirit when you read the Bible (see Luke 24:45).
Something to consider when reading the Bible is picking a solid translation. There are many translations to choose from, and some are more accurate to the original language than others. I personally read primarily from the New King James Version and the English Standard Version and recommend these as solid translations. Keep in mind that choosing a Bible translation is not about whether you like the way it reads but about accuracy and truth.
There are times when it is good to read through whole books of the Bible at once or go through the entire Bible quickly over several weeks or months. This way of reading can help you gain a greater context of a particular book or the whole of Scripture. But it is also beneficial to read small portions at a time, like a single chapter or a few chapters. One practical thing you can do as you study the Bible is to seek to determine three aspects:
- Revelation: what the passage says
- Interpretation: what the passage means
- Application: how the passage applies to your life
When you are studying the Bible, take your time to meditate on the passages of Scripture you are reading. Don’t be in a hurry to simply check Bible reading off of your list for the day. If you come across a passage that seems confusing or one that you don’t understand, ask God for insight. But also know that it is okay to not have it all figured out, so don’t get bogged down. You can move forward and trust that the Holy Spirit will bring more insight in due time.
As I have emphasized before, consistency is key. If you read three to four chapters a day, you can read the whole Bible in a year. If you read ten chapters a day, you can read the whole Bible three times in a year. A little each day goes a long way. Find your right rhythm and pace of Scripture reading and put it into practice.
In addition to the above, consider three ways that you can study the Bible.
1. Front to Back
This speaks of going through a whole book of the Bible, the Old Testament or New Testament, or the entire Bible. This is an important way to study God’s Word, because it ensures that we are reading the whole Bible and not simply gravitating to personal favorite passages. I personally make this my default way of studying the Scriptures.
2. Topical Study
This is when we pick a topic to study and dig into various passages that relate to it. This can be particularly helpful when the Lord is highlighting a specific theme or topic that He is wanting us to grow in. There are major themes of the Bible that have insights scattered throughout various parts. You can dig into a subject and get deeper insight by looking at numerous places that deal with the topic.
3. Spontaneous Passage
Sometimes the Holy Spirit will draw you to a specific Bible verse or portion of Scripture spontaneously. This can often happen when the Lord is wanting to speak into a specific situation in your life and teach you something. Be sensitive to lean into these moments and dig into what the Lord might be communicating to you.
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Time alone with God was never intended to be a boring duty or empty ritual. It was meant to be a passionate pursuit of God that leads to encountering His presence and knowing Him more.
Living from the Secret Place is a call to personal devotion. With rich scriptural truths, personal examples, and practical teaching, this book will equip you to grow in the most important thing you can do—spend time alone with God!