Suggestions for Bible Study, Meditation, and Prayer
We’ve been reminded that one of the main tools God employs for heart transformation is His Word (Hebrews 4:12). If you are anything like me, you’ve been a bit intimidated when it comes to studying the Bible without a workbook or special guide. The following suggestions are not intended to diminish the value of anointed scholars, teachers and writers, but to equip, inspire, and empower you to dig into God’s Word on a daily basis. Here are just 2 of many simple methods for study. Both of these methods are designed to help you: • Organize the information so you might gain greater understanding. • Meditate on the message of the passage so it sinks into your heart. • Apply the Word to your life so you might experience change, growth, and ever‐ increasing joy! You may decide to alternate between the two, mix them, or use one of your own. No matter which Bible study/devotion method you prefer, always start by PRAYING.* It’s easy to forget or breeze straight through to reading, but prayer is paramount!
*Suggestions: Ask the Lord to quiet you and open your heart to his truth. Ask the Holy Spirit to grant you understanding and a greater capacity for belief. These may sound obvious, but it’s easy to forget!
Start with a book of the Bible, and resolve to work through it from beginning to end, as opposed to playing “Bible roulette” and flipping open to a “random” page each day. For the Old Testament, you can look at 15‐20 verses at a time. For the New Testament, try taking smaller sections—about 10 verses. Now onto ideas for study and meditation…
Bible Study Method #1: The T Chart This was adapted from one of Dr. Tim Keller’s quiet time methods. (Tim Keller is the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC.) After reading the passage through first, organize the following into a T‐chart: 1. What do these passages tell me about the Father, Christ, or the Holy Spirit? 2. What do they tell me about myself or mankind in general? God, Jesus, Holy Spirit Me, Mankind • we are the branches • Jesus is the vine • • his Father is the gardener • the Father cuts off every branch that bears no fruit Then, follow with the 3 questions below: 3. Which truth in these passages do I find most compelling? Is there something I want to investigate more—something to look up in a commentary? 4. How would I be different if this truth were alive in my life? If I truly believed it, how might my life change? 5. Why is God showing me this today? How is God using this passage to address a current situation or attitude of my heart?
Bible Study Method #2: S.P.E.E.C.H Use the above acronym to recall the questions for this next simple method. Dr. Greg Herrick (Th.M. and Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, Pastor of Hillside Community Church in Calgary) passes it down from the Navigator ministry: 1. Is there a Sin to forsake? 2. Is there a Promise to claim? 3. Is there an Example to follow? 4. Is there an Error to avoid? 5. Is there something new about Christ or the Holy Spirit (i.e., God)? Now, of course, end your devotion time by praying. If you find your prayers consist mostly of requests, consider using this Biblical model: ADORATION: Praise God for who He is. Recite His astounding attributes. (These statements often begin with “You are _____.”) CONFESSION: Acknowledge your sin before God. Though He already knows our every thought and deed, it is necessary for us to confess it aloud. This often draws us nearer to God as He assures us of forgiveness through His son. THANKSGIVING: Give God thanks for what He has done and what He promises to do in the future. (Notice the difference between this and Adoration.) SUPPLICATION: Having praised Him for who He is, confessed our sins to Him, and thanked Him for His work and His promises, our hearts are better prepared to ask for things that are in line with His will. And if we truly believe He is great, our prayers will be bolder! So ASK!!!
Other Tools to Enhance your Studies:
Commentaries: When gifted teachers prepare sermons or Bible study guides, they often consult Bible commentaries. A commentary is an explanation or interpretation of a text. You can find many of them online for free (see websites below). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: The Bible was originally written in three languages‐‐Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. We can gain a better understanding of the author’s true intention by looking up the translation of the original Hebrew or Greek words. With the help of over 100 colleagues, Dr. James Strong linked every word in the KJV Bible to its counterpart in the original text. They indexed each Greek/Hebrew word in the Bible and assigned it a number‐‐referred to as Strong’s Number. They also recorded how many times each word occurs in the whole Bible. Bible Dictionary: If you come across an unfamiliar word like “ephod” and think, “What on earth is an ephod??” you can look it up in a Bible dictionary. Yes, Bible dictionaries exist for those of us who never heard of an ephod before reading Exodus. www.biblos.com: This site is completely free and combines ALL of these tools, plus others (Bible Encyclopedia, Bible Atlas, all different translations, cross references, etc). It’s fun to explore all the tools they have to offer! www.mystudybible.com: The highlight of this free website is that you can hover over each word, and it will automatically show you the translation of the original Hebrew or Greek text. Using the options on the right of the screen, you can also find commentaries and dictionaries.