How to Study the Bible

For the last few years, actually for almost a decade (man I’m getting old!) I’ve adopted a Bible reading approach which has been fantastic. It’s called Bible Read Through. The idea is you read through a book of the Bible each week, taking notes of anything you like and then exchange your three favourite points with a friend. (I’m sure I’ve outlined it a lot better somewhere else, but here is a video for using this method in your Church)

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post! Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt like God has been pushing me to study the Bible with less speed and more “chewing”. I have a good overview of what the Bible is about, what goes on in the stories, passages and songs, but now I feel that God wants me to actually study it – in depth.

This is all relatively new to me: A Bible-guzzling junkie, to actually pause, soak and chew on Scripture.

Since I’m not a half-hearted creature, probably an ‘Enthusiast’ on the enneagram model, I did some research! And got myself a baseline understanding of how to study the Bible. I’m all set up with my tools and have set myself high expectations for what’s going to happen along the way.

Start as you mean to go on….that’s what I heard anyway!

How am I going to do this? I feel like I have a big task ahead, so I wanted to share the ground-rules I got for myself. Maybe they will encourage others who want to join me on the journey:

1) Prayer… In that ‘Life Arts’ bag is my prayer journal. I don’t really want to study the Bible to get cleverer. Believe it or not, I’m not a very bright guy. I find it tough reading academic work, and am easily persuaded by most politicians about most policies etc. It’s the way God made me. But luckily, the Bible promises that it will ‘make wise the simple’ (that’s me!). I’m praying through this, because more than being cleverer, I actually want to be transformed. I want to hear God speak, and let it soak into my soul. I want to be ‘conformed to His image’ (Rom 8:29, 2 Cor 3:18). I want to radiate Christ in my workplace, in my friendships and in my family, more and more please! So I’m praying through each passage and reading, asking God to apply His truth to my heart.

2) Study aids. I got myself an ESV study Bible (partly, because I’ve mainly ever stuck to NIV in all my Bible reading, and also because I hear a lot of clever evangelicals (aka: John Piper and Wayne Grudem) go on about it being a good translation…). I’m also using a semi-commentary: The Bible Speaks, because a really dear and respected friend of mine looks up to Derek Tidball, and I hear he’s involved in the books. It’s not a ‘real commentary’ (by it’s own admission) it’s more about application…so it’s my kind of commentary.

3) Note-taking. That little black notebook, is my tool for recording things that stand out to me along the way. Like I said, I’m not super-clever, and so using pen and paper help me to process. It also helps me remember! I got a super-fine ball point pen to use to fit all my notes in a tiny book.

4) A slow, slow pace. I’m still doing my Bible Read Through, to get the Bible in me every day. But I’m taking this Study slowly, and thoroughly, slow and steady. There is no deadline for completion. I’m going one page at a time. It’s going to take some getting used to, and some major adjusting. But I intend to read each passage several times, coupled with the notes in the Study Bible and the actual “non-commentary”, along with prayer and note-taking. I don’t have enough time or money to make this a full-time job. And I really don’t want to become an anti-social recluse studying the Bible, I believe the Word of God is to help us live life in all it’s fullness. Saying that, I do intend to spend a good hour or so each day with this task. It will override a lot of my other reading endeavours.

5) A heart to teach. I spoke to my wife about this a few times, I have a massive heart to pass on what I’m learning. (Probably a symptom of working with the Navigators for so long). But even from a young age, I have always enjoyed sharing what God is teaching me, I guess I can’t help it. So I am taking notes, and consolidating my learning by turning it into resources for sharing. That’s where this blog is coming in. It will be the platform I use to regurgitate what God is teaching me.

6) Coffee. You can’t see it in the photo, but I have a lovely coffee contraption. It cooks coffee on the hob over half an hour at a time. And honestly it’s the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life.

Finally, here are my top 3 expectations, already eluded to above:

1) More like Jesus…I want to resemble Him more. I really want to carry His likeness into my workplace, friendships and family. Not only is this the best way to ‘bless’ people, it is the best way to communicate the good news to those I care about.

2) Heart Transformation… There is so much sin in my heart and my actions, it’s pretty difficult to hide it all…I want to invite God to minister to me and heal me, grow me, challenge and sharpen me on this journey.

3) Inform my Life’s purpose (the explicit one and the implicit one). My life purpose: to be a man after God’s own heart, then to lead, labour, inspire and encourage others to be the same, is beautifully worded (if I do say so myself)…but I don’t always live by it. Through reading God’s word, I’m expecting to become a man of greater integrity when it comes to my Life’s purpose.

Please pray for me.

To Him alone be the glory!

Bible Discipleship Heart Prayer

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