Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly …Colossians 3:16
Since I began following Jesus in 2005, I have tried various Bible study methods in my private, devotional time.
I’ve used one-year Bible reading plans. I’ve used Replicate Ministry’s HEAR Journal approach. I’ve used a color-coded highlighting method. And I’ve used different devotional books as well.
But the method I’ve returned to recently has been my most frequent and my most favorite.
I know people learn in different ways, so this is not me saying this is the best method. It’s just been helpful for me, so I thought I’d share it with you in case it’s helpful for you too. If it’s not, keep looking for the method that helps you best engage with God’s Word.
What I Do
I work through a book of the Bible studying one chapter a week. Each day of the week, I read through the same chapter. I’ll start the week on Sunday just by reading and praying through the chapter without journaling anything. Monday through Friday I then journal in response to a different question each day. On Saturday, I’ll read and pray through the chapter one more time.
This is a mix of different Bible-study approaches I’ve come across over the years. There’s nothing overly unique about it. It’s not much different than your typical inductive Bible study method of observation, interpretation, and application. But the slower approach of studying the same passage each day for a week combined with journaling these specific “go-to” questions have really been meaningful for me.
Here’s what it looks like day by day with the questions I use to guide my journaling.
Sunday – Read and pray through the chapter
Monday – What observations or questions do I have about the chapter?
This is intentionally pretty broad. I’ll often just make note of the details in the passage (who, what, when, where, etc.) Sometimes it’s just a verse or two that stuck out at me. Other times I might jot down a question about something I don’t understand in the chapter so I can research it later. And other times I might just jot down a truth that resonates with me from the chapter.
Tuesday – What do I learn about God from this chapter?
What is directly shared or indirectly inferred about the character, attributes, or works of God from the chapter?
Wednesday – What is there in this chapter for me to obey?
With an eye toward life transformation and not just information consumption, I look for specific ways in the text that I can seek to live more faithfully like Jesus.
Thursday – Who to share with and how to share?
With this question, I try to think of specific people and specific opportunities I might be able to share a truth from this chapter. I also try to think about illustrations, stories, or experiences that might help me communicate a truth(s) from this chapter.
Friday – What is the main point?
Sometimes there are multiple sections within a chapter, so I’ll identify the main point of each section. The point here is to try and summarize the chapter or section as succinctly and clearly as possible. I try to boil down what was written into only one or two sentences.
Saturday – Read and pray through the chapter one more time.
Then I repeat again the next week with the next chapter.
Why I Like It
Journaling helps me process my thoughts and retain more of what I read. Often many of my ideas for blog posts come from my time going deeper into a passage using this method.
This approach helps me slow down as I engage with God’s Word in a way that has been difficult for me to do with one-year Bible reading plans.
On a typical morning, I spend about fifteen to twenty minutes reading and journaling followed by some time in prayer. So this method isn’t overly burdensome time wise. But if you need to shorten or have the freedom to lengthen your study time each day, this method can accommodate either. Also, if there’s a different question you want to use for one of the days, you can easily switch it out.
Great With Groups
This method is also easily transferable from a private, morning devotion time to a group study. We used this method for a Saturday morning men’s Bible study I led for several years. No devotional or study books to buy. If doing this with a group, it doesn’t require extensive preparation time like preparing a lecture-style lesson might.
Find What Works For You
Again, I make no claims as this being the best way to study the Bible. It’s simply proven helpful for me. If you’re looking to try something new with your devotional time, maybe try this method and see how it works for you.
How do you study the Bible? Share your approach in the comments.