Hey Friend! I hope your holidays were spectacular! On the first, I began a new Bible reading plan for 2021. I’m reading a chapter a day to get through the New Testament in a year. Here’s a free download if you want to join in. You can cut the page in half and use them as book marks. You can also check them off and track your progress as you make it through each month.
This year, when I started reading I just dove right in. I didn’t have a commentary, a devotion, or any real plan in mind. All I knew is that I wanted to read a chapter a day and learn from Jesus, Paul, and the others. I quickly realized I needed a little structure. In response, I looked up some methods of studying the Bible. I’m sharing them with you so that you can get more out of your reading too. There are a few methods – just try them all out so that you can see which you like most .
My method is here:
- Pray – A regular prayer life allows you to have a playing field to start on. Whatever it is – pray about it. For example, if you’re tired of your job, ask God for a new one, a different situation, more money, different co-workers, etc. I pray often for his guidance – I ask him to allow me to do his will and point me in that direction. Prayer opens a dialogue and conversation between you and God. Reading the Bible allows him to answer your prayer directly sometimes.
- Read – Right now I am reading the New Testament. I decided to do this because I want to live the Good Life and I know there’s some good advice in the New Testament. Also, read the notes; they help to explain and expand what you’re reading so it’s easier to understand.
- Write – Anything. Everything. Write it down. Sometimes I don’t know what to write and I write a verse. Sometimes I don’t get what I’ve read and I write a prayer asking for understanding.. Other times,
- the verses answer my prayers – I write a note of how I can change my behavior or act upon the answer;
- speak to my situation – I write it down so that I can put the pieces together as God reveals them to me;
- fill me with hope, or make me sad – when that happens I respond to it. I write down the feeling, I pray, I cry, I try to understand why.
- Pray – I pray when I’ve finished reading. I used to have a separate prayer notebook. But this year, I’m trying something new. I have note cards that I am writing my monthly prayers on. I have paper I keep in my phone and I use the keep-notes app by google to make sure that if I hear someone who needs help, I can pray for them. If I write it down, I won’t forget.
- Discuss – This is hard because we don’t all have the confidence or the people around to do this. I know it’s scary to talk about the Bible and it’s scary to find someone who is willing. It’s hard to put yourself out there. However, it’s totally worth it. It’s more fun and rewarding to talk about it with someone. I’ve never met a Christian who doesn’t want to talk about the Bible with another Christian. We can ask questions, be real, and learn from each other.
A few tips: I read the New Living Translation (NLT). I have other translations but this is my favorite because it is the easiest to read. It is a fact that if you can’t understand it, you won’t read it and if you do, you won’t gain any insight. Some other popular versions are the New King James Version, the English Standard Version, the Amplified Bible, the Message Bible, the New International Version, and the New International Reader’s version. Every person is different and we all understand differently.
There are hundreds of versions including study versions with notes, maps, and explanations. I use study guides and study versions to help explain almost everything. For example, I have an ESV study bible that’s electronic. When I was doing the Bible in a year plan from YouVersion, I looked in the notes and found pictures which I immediately integrated into the whole. It was fantastic to get a whole new perspective from that which I would have skipped in the past.
You can sign up for YouVersion at https://www.bible.com/ and then download the app to your phone or computer in your app store.
If you need guided reading – pick a devotion or plan that speaks to your current needs and situations. If you need help picking a devotion try YouVersion – they’re free and have subjects on almost anything you need. My first devotion that I ever completed was a 21 day Psalms reading on depression. A devotion book will allow God to answer your prayers through the words and experiences of others.
Another fabulous way of entry to the Bible is an Alpha class. This is where I started when I started learning. If you’re a person who isn’t sure and maybe have questions the Alpha class answers so many questions. It has answers to why the Bible is trustworthy, what Christians believe, what about heaven and hell, and many others. Here’s a link to look for one near you (or online) https://alphausa.org/try.
Rick Warren has 4 methods. https://40daysintheword.com/
- SpacePets – It’s an acronym that helps you to remember how to interact with the passages that you are reading.
- Sin – Is there something in the passage that directs you to something you need to talk to God about? Now is always a good time for confession and you’ll always receive forgiveness.
- Promise – Is there something in the passage that promises you something? It’s time to claim it.
- Attitude – Is the passage pointing out something in your attitude that needs adjusted? Go to God to ask for help.
- Example – Is there something that someone has done or refrained from that you should see as an example. I think when Jesus speaks and acts this is always a yes.
- Prayer – Is there a prayer given? Highlight these, write them down, book mark them. When you don’t know what to pray, these are helpful guideposts
- Error – Is there an obvious error in the passage? If so, you can avoid it, learning from others’ mistakes is the easy way.
- Truth – Is there a truth to believe? An overarching truth, like in John 3:16 is a good example.
- Something to Praise – This is a little less obvious, like Jesus’ willingness to go to the cross. The passage is heartbreaking but also praiseworthy.
- Picture it – where there is a narrative passage, you put yourself in the scene. Ask questions, identify the characters, figure out what each would think and feel.
- Application – put emphasis on and define each word in the verse. This works best with single verses rather than chapters or paragraphs. Once you’ve got it defined, figure out how to apply it to your real life. Last, pray about it. We can’t do anything without God’s help.
Other methods that I’ve come across are:
- SOAP – Another study method with an acronym. .
- Scripture – pick a verse/paragraph that you want to review.
- Observation – write down your observations about the paragraph. What stands out to you. Are there any commands/instructions, or if/then statements? Write them down.
- Application – how can you apply your observations to your real life? What does it mean? How can you accomplish it?
- Pray – respond in prayer, ask for help in the application.
- Meditate – read a passage, verse, chapter. Consider it, reread it multiple times.
- Writing – Write details and observations of what you read.
- Topical method – this method requires that you research somehow. If you want to know more about a character, an emotion, a situation, etc., you look up references to that topic. This is easier with the electronic version that has a search function. It’s also possible to type into a web browser search bar the topic you’re looking for. A good example is to look web search “what does the bible say about marriage”. You’ll get thousands of results.
Are you reading along with me? I’d love to hear about your early progress. Please comment below. I have already learned so much in these first days of reading. .