A Beginner's Guide to Bible Study: Devotional Method
Updated: Apr 21, 2021
During my growing up years in the church, I never learned what it meant to study the Bible.
Perhaps it was assumed that you would learn it someday at bible school, or pick it up somewhere. Assuredly reading the Bible everyday was communicated as an important spiritual discipline, but what happens when what it’s saying isn’t clear to me?
One fall, a woman in our church gathered some ladies to go through Beth Moore’s “Believing God” study. As I participated in the homework, I found myself diving deeply into Scripture, in ways I never knew possible. I hadn’t known there was so much more to this collection of pages I attributed my faith to. With a brewing hunger for more, I came across a Bible study methods book, and began to learn how to approach the Word of God with deeper intent.
For those who open up their Bible regularly, admittedly we can find ourselves scanning the pages, out of boredom or misunderstanding, lost in foreign places or mysterious concepts.
What studying the Bible helps us with, is gaining understanding of a passage, a chapter, or a book, in order to equip us with greater knowledge in how God has shown Himself at work in the world, from the beginning and until the end.
Today, I will share with you the “Devotional Method” of Bible study, which draws from Rick Warren’s book “Bible Study Methods” . It's a simple method, where you read through a chapter and apply reflection questions to prompt your learning.
Jen Wilkin writes, “prayer is what changes our study from the pursuit of knowledge to the pursuit of God Himself.” Our reading of the Word isn’t a lonely endeavor, we invite the presence of the Holy Spirit to teach us and give us insight; “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who give generously to all without reproach and it will be given him” (James 1:5).
Reading through a passage, isn’t a race (usually). I mean, there’s often times I know the kids will be waking up and I have this urge to hurry and get it done. Meditation invites us to slow down, to light a candle symbolizing His presence with us as we read, and to go through a passage with slow, sure steps.
He presents an acronym SPACEPETS to guide our time of reflection as we read the passage. Read the passage through a few times and contemplate these questions, and what Scripture is teaching you.
*Is there any…
Sin to confess? Do I need to make any restitution?
Promise to claim?
Attitude to change? Am I working on a negative attitude or building toward a positive one?
Command to obey? Am I willing to do it no matter how I feel?
Example to follow? Is it a positive example for me to copy, or a negative one to avoid?
Prayer to pray? Is there anything I need to pray back to God?
Error to avoid? Is there a sinful behavior I need to be alert to?
Truth to believe? What new thing am I learning about God the Father, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?
Something to praise God for? What can I be thankful for?
My encouragement is to take some time journaling these reflections, make point form notes of what you are learning, or write out a prayer to God.
How should it change me? How should I respond?
“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (Jam 1:25).
As we’ve reflected on the passage, opportunities for confession, praise and thanksgiving have arisen. Now, as we apply the Word to our lives, we consider personal, practical steps for the day that lays ahead.
We consider what we’ve learned about God, His character, and about who we are as sinful people, and think through how to act in regard to our relationships, our work, and our habits.
Psalm 1 reminds us that the one who delights in the law of the Lord is a blessed, a tree that is deeply rooted and bears fruit. My prayer for us, as we continue to grow in the time we spend in the Word and in our understanding, is that we would set down those deep roots as we prioritize our study of the Word, and trust Him for the fruit to bear out of our lives.
How can you grow in your study of the Word today?
*[Don’t know where to start? Try Psalm 15, Psalm 34, Romans 12 or 1 John 4]
***The worksheet I created (photo above) is available as a free pdf download. Just head over to the tab: "Free Stuff" above, where you can log in to access all my free downloads!
Happy getting in the Word!