Ten Ways to Study the BibleMichael Harrell
I’m busy. I teach catechetics, I shop talk theology, I listen to Christian podcasts…but man, if I ever crack open my Bible without needing to, I can’t remember the last time I did so. That’s a bad thing. Thankfully, there are so many easy ways to study the Bible. And I think I’m gonna take up one of these.
1. 365 Days of Truth
The best way to study the Bible is to make it a part of your daily life. Simply setting aside ten or fifteen minutes every day to learn more about God through His Word will go a long way toward helping you stand for truth. There are lots of great resources available to break the Bible down into 365 smaller sections; that’s one for every day of the year! Pick up a one-year Bible or check out your church’s lectionary or a one-year reading plan or devotional. It’s not that hard.
2. Thirty-One Days of Wisdom
There are thirty-one chapters in the book of Proverbs. For seven months out of the year, you could read one chapter a day everyday and complete an entire book. But if you’re not sure what to read, and you’re not starting at the beginning of the month, just open to the chapter starting with today’s date. If it’s the 10th, read Proverbs 10. You’ll be wiser, and you can always go back to this study.
3. Mirror, Mirror
Before leaving for work every morning, I do a quick check in the mirror: hair, check; teeth, check; face – goodness, is that a zit – phew, okay, fixed; and out the door. But I also see this mirror whenever I wash my hands, take a shower, shave, brush my teeth…that makes my mirror a great place to soak up God’s truth! Place several key verses on note cards, or write them on your mirror with an erasable or at least washable marker. Then read them out loud when you see them. It’s a great idea to change the verses out after a few weeks in order to expose yourself to more and more.
BONUS: This is also a great way to help kids with memory verses; just post them on the kid’s bathroom mirror, so they read them out loud until they got ’em down!
4. Get Technical
Okay, you’re reading this on the Internet and if any of our analytic tools are accurate, you are even probably reading this on a phone or tablet. May we recommend downloading a Bible app to hop into the Word? Waiting in a car, riding a bus, food at a restaurant, doctor’s office, the dreaded DMV? Pop open the app, and read. We recommend eBible, available both in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play store (it’s the plug-in we use to highlight and link to Bible verses like this: Hebrews 4:12 – see, isn’t that cool?). There are other apps out there, so by all means explore.
5. Flip Out
This one is for the cramming-before-exams-college-sophomore in all of us: In addition to going high-tech, you can pore over God’s Word old-school style—that is by using actual pen and paper! Write ten to fifteen of your favorite Bible verses on 3 x 5 cards. Punch a hole in the corner of each card and attach them with a ring. Flip through the cards several times a day for a rapid-fire dose of God’s truth. Exchange the cards for new verses every few months.
6. Work Together
Everything is more fun with friends, even getting into God’s Word. Ask a friend or two to hold you accountable for reading God’s Word. Text or call each other daily to remind each other to read the Bible.
7. Stick to the Stories
Okay, let’s be honest: Numbers? Boring. 1 Chronicles 7? Boring. Also not peculiarly relevant to the redemption arc that is the Bible’s chief narrative. So stick to the stories.
Jesus taught tough truth using stories or parables. This teaching style helps break down complex truths about God into bites that are easier to digest. To hear truth straight from the source, focus on reading Jesus’ teachings in one of the gospels. Many Bibles have a list of parables in the back after the index. Check it out, and go through one by one.
8. Faith Comes by Hearing
Jesus was more than a great storyteller: he was also, apparently, a dynamic public speaker. In an oral culture, thousands would come to hear him preach, most famously in the Sermon on the Mount (starting at Matthew 5:1 and running through Matthew 7:29).
So why not hear the word? If you’re the type who loves things explained, expository sermons that cross-reference back and forth, hit up a podcast or just get Bible on CD or mp3. No, you can’t hear the sermon actually read by Jesus (that would be way cool!), but you can listen to this passage being read by some other great voices – including James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington and others who have lent their voices to the task.
9. Get a Coach
It’s okay to get help from others as you make the move to get into God’s Word. This is why Bible study groups exist, pastors preach, teachers teach – even adults get education time, so why be embarrassed!? There are great Bible studies available that can guide you as you learn more about the Bible. You can choose studies that help you focus on a single subject, studies that break down a single book of the Bible, or studies that hone in on a specific biblical character (such as David, Mary, or Paul). Grab one or two, get a person you trust, and get the conversation going.
10. Go to Church
Okay, I know – really, I get it – the most boring part of church is the sermon. Every Sunday, without fail, we go from singing and clapping to sitting still and listening. But your pastor or priest or deacon has been trained to rightly handle the Word of God. He pores over the text; he likely has training in Greek and Hebrew. Don’t have reliable sermons? That’s fine. Listen to the words of the songs – seriously! – look at the architecture. Stained glass is commonly called “the poor man’s Bible” for its presentation of the Gospel in beauty.