How to Study God’s Word 101
There aren’t always enough hours in the day to get kids up, squeeze in a shower (if you’re lucky), feed the kids, get them to school, get to work, and find time to spend in quiet with Jesus. We all know the days go by quickly! Here’s the good news: the Word of God is alive and can do a work in you whether you have 10 minutes or two hours. And it doesn’t matter if you’re using a print Bible or one on your phone, or are sitting in a comfy chair with coffee or in your car on your lunch break. He is faithful to you and to His Word in you.
Here are a few tips for studying the Bible.
Pray before you read. Although this may sound simple enough, it’s no small thing. Take a few minutes to posture yourself before God and His Word. This gets you ready to ignore the lists of life and to hear from God. It’s His will that you know Him through His Word. Pray. Breathe. Read.
Expect God to show up. The Scripture is the display of who God is, and it is for changing who we are. “The whole Bible, properly understood, has this divine purpose: to communicate or display the glory of God.”When we read the Word we can be sure of this: God is displayed and we are changed because of it. When we come to His Word with humility and expecting God will show up, we’ll never walk away empty.
Use the brilliant mind you’ve been given. God has made us in His image, and this includes a magnificent brain to be used for study. Philippians 1:9-10 says, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent…” (ESV). For “discernment” the NIV says “depth of insight.” What wonderful words to pray over ourselves as we study, that God would give us more and more knowledge, discernment, and depth of insight!
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep all you read. The Spirit of God knows His thoughts (1 Cor. 2:12) and reminds of what we’ve learned (John 14:26). You do not go to the Word alone and have to try and figure it out. With the Holy Spirit, you are equipped to hear and understand. You can walk away from your time in the Word with the faith that the Holy Spirit is doing a transforming work in you (see Ephesians 6:17).
Now for some tips on different methods for studying the Bible—whether it’s on your own or following a formal Bible study.
Start with one word. One way to equip your mind and heart across the full counsel of the Bible is to find a word and do a “word study.” Let’s say you want to know more about the word “righteous” in the New Testament. Here are a couple ideas on how to do just that:
- Go to BlueLetterBible.com to do a quick search for either the word you want to know more about or the verse it’s found in. See the original language of the word by clicking on “tools” and then the number by the word. You’ll learn its meaning and can even hear its pronunciation. You’ll also see all the other times the word is used throughout Scripture.
- If you can find the time, visit a local Bible college or seminary library. They’re invaluable resources. There you can find commentaries**on any book in the Bible and as many resources as you’ll need to discover what something means. Commentaries help you uncover the rich history of the authors of the Bible, the audience they wrote to, and the culture they lived in. Sometimes a good trip to the library is just what we need...plus it’s quiet!
Start with one book of the Bible. Sometimes it helps to just read a book through. If we spend most of our Bible reading jumping around, we can lose the continuity of the Word and miss out on the greater story. Try one of the many read-through-the-Bible plans or a Bible study devoted to just one book. If you don’t want to buy anything, just spend a few weeks reading in one place. Remember to look for God’s character and glory in it and as you trust that He changes you by it.
Use printed Bible studies with or without a video teaching. This is a fantastic way to unpack and learn the Bible, and there are many resources available for you to order at a reasonable cost. Start with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, or Jennie Allen. Many times their video content is downloadable at minimal cost. This gives you the opportunity to study at your own pace on your own or with a couple of girlfriends. Pick one day of the week and either meet in person or online to talk about what you learned together.
Find a local Bible study. Babysitting, I know. Many offer childcare, and yet there is always the question of time. But hear me out. Learning in community is one of the most fulfilling and transforming methods of study. Studying the Word of God with others allows us to ask questions, dig deeper, share our feelings, reason out our doubts or fears, and grow with others who are walking the same road. You might even end up with some great friends!
Use study resources. We have so much information at our fingertips it can be overwhelming. The Bible was written in three different languages over hundreds of years, so we need a little help understanding it. Using Google and Google Scholar, you can find many articles and websites designed to help you, and I’ve listed a few below.
With prayer, humility, time, resources, and community you can learn the Word of God for your health, joy, and maturity, and you’ll be equipped to lead the next generation of believers.
Online Bible Studies– select from a variety of online Bible studies produced by Arise Ministries. These studies are written with the single mother in mind. Each study has short videos and accompanying study questions.
Blue Letter Bible– quickly find a verse or passage and discover the words in their original context and language. This site also has commentaries**and sermons (online or in app form).
The Bible Project– find beautiful videos that tell the Bible’s story. The site also offers Bible study helps, Bible theme videos, and more. You’ll not want to miss this one. Great for your kids too!
The Read Scripture App – Spend quality time reading the Bible daily while learning how to read it, with contextual videos from The Bible Project.
Bible Hub– features topical, Greek and Hebrew study tools, plus concordances*, commentaries**, dictionaries, sermons, and devotions. Here is a video to learn more about Bible Hub.
Bible Gateway– another way to search and study with quick searches.
ChristianBook.com– offers discounted prices for all sorts of books, studies, bibles, supplies and more.
LifeWayBible resources – search different Bible studies for your different needs. From thematic to verse-by-verse studies, you will have many to choose from.
You Version– offers all sorts of Bible reading plans on your phone. These are thematic and really great for knowing God’s word during different seasons of life.
Google Scholar– searches journal articles on topics and verses.
*A concordance is a list of every word in the Bible with its numbered reference to its translation and meaning.
**A commentary is typically a book that explains a text or a complete book of the Bible. Most of the time written by one author, or a compilation of authors.
. John Piper, A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness(Wheaton: Crossway, 2016), 195.