Embracing Spiritual Disciplines: Bible Study
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When I was in college, area churches would recruit us to work on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings, babysitting in the nursery for the moms who attended Bible study. It was an easy way to have some regular cash in my pocket and I enjoyed holding the sweet babies. As the moms picked up their children, they would be carrying their Bibles and workbooks. Chatting and laughing with each other, I could see they were refreshed from a couple of hours in the Word. I’m sure it also helped that they got a bit of respite from caring for their small children.
I wasn’t in the Bible study, but I think it was then that I fell in love with Bible study. Ten years later or so, I was pregnant with my first child and awaiting her birth when I showed up at weekly morning Bible study. I’ve been attending them most of the years since then.
Corporate Bible studies like those are amazing. I love them so much I wrote one! But when summer came and the study ended I would find myself struggling to have a quiet time or to spend time with God.
Studying the Bible is a spiritual discipline that will put us in a position to hear God and be transformed by his Word. We place ourselves open to God when we study the Bible and ask him to show us what we need to know. The goal of spiritual disciplines is transformation and the Bible is God’s gift to us revealing himself. We will be transformed as we study the Bible and internalize the truth we find there.
Just as other disciplines in our lives, like exercise, flossing, or eating right, studying the Bible takes deliberate attention. I wish it were different, but my first thought when I have a moment free is not to study the Bible, but to find something to watch on TV. I have to fight against that tendency and schedule time to do it.
Here are some tips for making Bible study a regular part of your life:
1. Schedule it. Unless you have been doing daily study for many years and it comes without planning to you, you probably need to schedule it into your day. When my kids were in school, I would get up a half hour early to have some quiet time with God before they got up. When they were babies, I reserved some of the daily nap time for it. I know others who are at their best in the evenings and schedule it then.
2. Study the Bible, don’t just read about it. Study requires more of you. Study will give more to you. Reading devotional literature is great, but it isn’t a replacement for the discipline of study.
3. Make sure you are communicating with God throughout your study. I noticed one day after an hour of prayer at my Moms in Prayer group, that I hadn’t really been paying attention. My mind was thinking about the things we were praying about, but I wasn’t really talking to God at all. Study can be like that. It takes deliberate attention to keep focused on God and what he is saying to you.
4. Write down what you learn. Writing down what you are learning engages your brain in a different way than just thinking about what you are learning. A journal will also give you evidence of God’s work in your life.
5. Let it change you. Sometimes when we read the Bible we are looking for ways it supports our views, rather than looking for ways it exposes sin in our lives. Pray for help on this one, it is hard.
Bible study is a very broad topic and I have lots more to say about it! Bible study is really the topic of the whole blog. Everything I do here I want to be the result of Bible study. Here are a few resources you may find helpful if you are ready to learn more.
I just bought Arabah Joy’s 7 day course called Bible Study Methods, 7 ways in 7 days. She takes you though seven different methods of digging into God’s Word without a Bible study guide. Each of them is fun and will take you deeper into the text. The course comes with a workbook and 7 videos where she shows you exactly what to do. The course is amazing and her energy is contagious. I highly recommend this course. (This is an affiliate link, but my recommendation would be the same without it. I really love this course!)
I use biblegateway.com and have subscribed to their Bible Gateway Plus plan. For a small cost, it removes ads and offers a wider variety of study resources. The ads are distracting especially when you are trying to study the Bible, and I’ve found the resources helpful. I like the Easton Bible Dictionary and reference it often.
Kay Arthur has long been teaching the inductive method of Bible study and it is a proven and reliable method that has drawn thousands closer to God. You can’t go wrong here, especially if you want a step by step method for going through a book of the Bible.
The Life Application Study Bible, New International Version, is the Bible I use. Most verses have a note at the bottom of the page focusing on how that verse applies to your life. Application is an essential part of Bible study and this Bible is my favorite.
What is your favorite method of Bible Study?
What’s your biggest struggle in studying the Bible?