Many of us approach the new year in hopes of starting afresh in some way. We plan, prepare, and prioritize the need to flush out the old and welcome in the new. We have only the best of intentions when setting goals and making resolutions-the purpose of making ourselves better than we were the previous year. A popular goal many of us make is to begin or continue to open our Bibles and study Scripture. We decide to make this goal because we have a deep desire to know God-to grow in our relationship with the Lord, and what better way to do this than reading the Word of God!
We all fully intend to instill this goal to help us grow, but many times, we don’t know where to begin or how to exactly study the Bible. This can leave us feeling intimidated, nervous, and unqualified, and once we open our Bibles, we begin to become overwhelmed with confusion that sometimes we just close it and walk away.
For those who find themselves flustered and unable to start, I want to help by offering ideas and tips on what you can do to make your quiet time run more smoothly.
- A Bible! Choose a Bible that feels right for you. Many prefer a digital Bible while others prefer a physical one. Choose one that’s easily accessible for you and fits into your lifestyle. If you prefer the digital version, that’s great! There are many different options out there, one of those being the YouVersion Bible app which offers options such as audio, several different versions, and the opportunity to earn badges along your Bible reading journey. If you prefer a physical Bible, there are also many amazing options out there. My two personal favorites include: the Incourage Study Bible and the ESV Illuminated Bible.
- Journal: A journal is a great tool to add to your Bible Study time. You can write out notes, prayers, and verses which is helpful in that you can always look back at everything you’ve learned along the way.
- Set of highlighters: I love these!
- Lastly, I always have the site: enduringword.com up during my quiet time. There is so much richness and knowledge in every word on this site, and it is one of the best hidden gems I’ve found recently.
Once you have any and all necessary supplies, it’s time to jump in! If this is a new experience for you, there might be some hesitation about where to start. There are so many wonderful options, but I highly recommend starting in Romans, Genesis, any of the four Gospels, or Psalms. Any of these books offer a beautiful glimpse into the deep, refreshing love God has for us.
Time of prayer: Time spent in prayer before diving into God’s Word is so beneficial. This is time for you to go to Him in prayer and ask Him to reveal His truth and love to you. Ask Him to guide you and lead you through this time so you can absorb every drop of peace He provides.
There are several different methods available to help guide you through your time of study. One of the most widely used methods is the S.O.A.P method:
S: Scripture-Reading the passage several times through is extremely helpful in understanding the true meaning behind His words. I find it useful to read the passage in different versions and to listen to the audio recording. The audio is great in that you can listen to the passage while taking notes and highlighting in your physical Bible.
O: Observation-The first read through should be simple and smooth. The second and third readings should be much slower to allow time to attempt to fully take in the deeper meanings. During this time there are several different topics and ideas to observe: What stands out to you as you read? Are there any words or phrases repeated throughout the passage? Are there any commands given to the audience? If you have a set of highlighters, this is a great time to highlight or underline any part of the passage you find to be important or that stands out to you.
A: Application- How does this passage apply to your life? Which parts of the passage speak to you? The application and observation portions allow a perfect opportunity to use a journal you have on hand. Jot out notes about what you learn, any interpreted messages you’ve gleaned from the passage, and points of prayer you find helpful to look back on.
P: Prayer-Continue to ask questions, pray continually, and ask God to reveal His love, peace, and grace to you as you continue to dive deep into His Word. Prayer is the perfect blessing God gave to us so that we can stay in deep, meaningful conversation with Him.
Hopefully, the above tips are helpful in some way. Above all else, this is your time to spend with the Lord. Do whatever brings you joy, and what helps you grow closer in your relationship with Jesus. Ultimately, He is the main goal of this time you’ve set aside. Remember to pray for His guidance, His encouragement, and a true desire to continue to read His Word. It’s His love letter to us and how we learn to know the true heart of God.