This article was originally published on Maple Alps
Until recent years, you could have found me approaching bible study like most women. I’d flip to a Psalm or open up a devotional and spend about 5 minutes trying to apply it to my life. I craved something more, but just wasn’t equipped to do anything about it.
While devos have their place, women would do well to strive for deeper immersion into the Word of God.
So, here are some tips I’ve learned over the years that I thoroughly recommend adding to your bible study routine.
Prayer is so important. If I’m being honest though, it’s also the step I tend to forget about way too easily. When approaching God’s word, we can pray about the following things:
- What book of the bible should I read?
- Pray for understanding and wisdom at the beginning, and during your study as questions come up.
- Praise for who God is and any attributes you see in the passage you’re reading.
- Pray that God would reveal to you how to apply what you’ve learned to your life.
2. Don’t toss out any books of the bible.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
From the seemingly monotonous genealogies to the Levitical Law, all scripture points us to the feet of Jesus and is applicable to our lives today.
Be open to every book in the Word of God. As Jen Wilkin says, “There are no pink parts of the bible.” We need more than Esther and Ruth.
3. Park yourself in one book.
As women, we like to move quickly. We’re always on to the next thing. This ought not be so in our time with the Lord.
Make yourself a student of one book of the bible for as long as it takes. Your goal is to find Jesus among the pages, learn more about God’s character and allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the truths of Scripture which will shape you into Christlikeness.
This requires you to slow down. Take your time.
If this means you spend six months studying one book of the bible, that’s awesome! Be okay with mulling over hard passages for long periods of time. In the end, you’ll reap the reward.
4. Search out the context.
Context is key, y’all!
When studying a book of the bible, you must find the context.
Believe it or not, you can find out a lot about a book by reading it multiple times in a row. I do this by searching for information about the author, recipients, or themes I see and writing them down.
A decent study of hermeneutics will be super helpful for this. The bible is compiled of many types of literature, from poetry to letters. Knowing what kind you’re studying will be helpful for how to interpret scripture.
Of course, there’s also the option of a good study bible which has all of that information at the beginning of each book. However you decide, search out the context. This is vital to bible study and protects the reader from wrong interpretation of the text.
(Two resources for studying hermeneutics are, “40 Questions About Interpreting The Bible” by Robert Plummer and “The Hermeneutical Spiral” by Grant Osborne.)
5. Hold off on using a commentary until the end.
While study bibles are great for getting key information at the beginning of your study, commentaries should be used at the end.
When we use commentaries throughout our study, we rob ourselves of the chance to come to the correct conclusion on our own. There is so much growth that happens in the in between as we wrestle with the meaning of scripture. We’re forced to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide and shape our mind to understand.
I always use a commentary at the very end of my study to see how my thoughts line up with a trained theologian. If you’re looking for a good one, Matthew Henry’s is fantastic and it’s available online as well as John Calvin’s.
6. Use different translations.
Whenever I come to a difficult passage to interpret, I like to read it in a couple other translations. This can be so helpful. But remember to use a translation and not a paraphrase. Typically, I use ESV, CSB, YLT and NASB.
7. Define words.
Another good practice is defining words. I write down any word I don’t often use or don’t know. Look at the synonyms too. I can’t tell you how many times this has helped me to better understand a verse.
8. Download the Blue Letter Bible App
Friends, this app is so helpful! You can easily look up cross references, different translations and look at the original language of words you’re unsure of.
9. Be patient with yourself.
Lastly, be patient.
You aren’t going to understand everything in one sitting. Some days, you’ll walk away from your study confused or even frustrated. Learn to embrace the discomfort of not understanding, knowing that in due time God will reveal to you the truths he wants you to know.
In those times, we can trust in God, even when we don’t see what his Word is saying. Our faith will be stretched and we will humbly accept that he is God, and we are not.
If you want to read my bible study technique, you can find it here.
Be encouraged, friends. God is with you as you seek his face through studying his Word.