We live in a rushed, high input culture, where distractions are non-ending. This is true, whether you are a Mom with young children or a senior adult as I am. To have an effective time of Bible study requires being purposeful.
Several years ago, I learned this important truth. Since then, Bible study has been a part of my daily schedule. I have a regular place and time for Bible study. For me, the place is my lift chair, mainly because sitting at a desk or table causes pain from my chronic illnesses to be a distraction. You know what place works best for you. The tim is as soon as I finish breakfast. And my Bible, journal, pen, and reading plan are on a shelf next to my chair, ready to use. My iPad is also available since many of the resources I use during my study time are online, but I’ve made a commitment not to be distracted by checking email or social media until my study time is over. Each of us have different distractions to deal with, but the key is finding the time and place where they are minimized.
Each year, I choose a specific reading plan. In 2015, I used a chronological through the Bible reading plan. This year, I’ve chosen a plan that covers one book at a time, one chapter a day, allowing me to spend more time digging into the chapter. And I’m supplementing this with a Bible study through God-Living Girls, a group of ladies who all suffer with chronic illnesses.
Now, with the plan ready and supplies waiting, what do I actually do?
- I start with a brief time of prayer, asking God to speak to me and to open my ears to listen. If I’m aware of any sin that would separate me from God, I confess it before starting.
- Next, I read the chapter for the day, from start to finish. Sometimes, I use the YouVersion Bible app to listen to the chapter and follow along in the text. This gives me an overview of the material that I’m studying.
- Then I ask God to show me which verses He wants me to focus on today. I’ve already read the full chapter, so I’m aware of the context of the shorter passage. I also reflect on what the passage meant to the original readers. I take notice of key words in the passage. Often, this step includes studying one or two words in the original language so I fully understand the meaning.
- Now it’s time to slow down and listen. Usually God has a specific application for me in the passage, but if I rush through this step I might miss it.
- Finally, I journal about what God is showing me from this passage. This might be a brief as one or two paragraphs, or if God is dealing with a major area of application I’ve sometimes written several pages.
- After I complete my study of today’s passage, I use an app called Scripture Typer to review verses I’ve been working on memorizing. If God is speaking to me from a specific verse from today’s passage, I might add that to my list of verses. This app not only helps me memorize the verse, but it sets up a regular schedule of reviewing verses so I don’t forget them. Then I close my quiet time with prayer.
Bible study by itself doesn’t change our lives – we must follow thought with the applications God has shown us. D. L. Moody said, “The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.” The effectiveness of your Bible study can best be seen by the positive changes in your life.