You know, I really love to sit down with my Bible and dig in with a good Bible study. The thing is, sometimes I get frustrated because it feels like many Bible studies already presume a lot of prior knowledge. I get lost and lose focus. Does that ever happen to you? Here’s a method I learned several years ago though that helps me when I approach a Bible study.
The ABCs of Bible Study:
To begin, read the passage at least 3 times. Obviously this is going to be difficult if you’re working with a really long reading so I either break it up into smaller chunks (no more than one chapter) and work one bit at a time or I pick out the section that is either most troublesome to me (in terms of understanding) or that I think is the most important part of what I’ve read. Often they’re the same. Remember, you don’t have to really dig in to every single thing you read. Pick out what’s standing out to you and go with that. You can always come back to the other sections at a later date if you wish.
The second or third time I read through it, I start to write down my thoughts in a journal. I just write whatever comes to mind. This might be questions I have or insights I’ve gained or sometimes simply the words that jump out at me even if I’m not sure why. I think it’s important to read through at least once without making any notes – I just let the words wash over me and I try not to “dissect” them too much. I just absorb them.
Ok, so now that I have read through it just for the reading of it and then read through it and made notes, it’s time to organize those notes. This is where the ABCs come in.
A = A Summary Title – I try to come up with a title that summarizes the key point of the passage I’m studying. This is another good reason not to try and tackle too much content all at once.
B = Best verse or best passage – Pick out what you think is the most important passage in the section you’re studying. Important just means important to you. It’s a very personal decision. If this verse lends itself to it, you might even want to memorize it. I often write them down on an index card and hang that up where I can see it frequently. It’s just another way to help what I’ve read really sink in.
C = Personal challenge – Can you find a personal challenge in the reading? Is there something in there that you feel is speaking to you? If so, what will you do about it? What action will you take based on this challenge? (Perhaps to read more, to talk with someone about it and gain their perspective, to make a change in your life, or to reach out to help someone else)
D= Pinpoint the difficulties – What, if anything, do you find confusing in the reading? What are you struggling to understand? What will you do to gain understanding – research, discussion with someone else, reflecting on it and praying about it?
E = Narrow down and describe the passage’s essence. List the main points. Don’t try to analyze them – simply list them.
This is not a list of step by step instructions that are meant to be done in order. Instead, as I start really diving into understand what I’ve read, I keep these ABCs in mind and work through them in whatever order feels appropriate. For example, sometimes I find that I need to begin with D and E before anything else, especially when reading something especially challenging.
This just one method I have used when working through a Bible study and I find it to be very helpful in gaining more understanding and meaning from what I’ve read.
What tools and techniques do you use when tackling a Bible study?