Originally published Tuesday, 24 October 2017.
If you’re wanting to learn to study the Bible, this simple method will teach you how to correctly engage with the text, interpret its meaning, and apply it to your life. Get your free FEAST bookmark here.
I have a confession to make.
Even though I grew up in a Christian home, there was a time in my life fairly recently when I didn’t want to study the Bible. It wasn’t that I didn’t have time or didn’t know how. The problem was, I didn’t have a desire for God’s Word. I had lost my appetite for Him.
Personal tragedy combined with serious doubts and disillusionment, leaving me apathetic toward the Bible. But last spring, God began a new work in my life, and I found myself asking Him, “Lord, give me a hunger for You!” And day by day, in that gentle way our Father has toward us, He responded by pointing me to His Word.
In that season, I discovered that for years I had been studying the Bible for all the wrong reasons. I was acquiring head knowledge about God, and I was learning all the do’s and don’ts of the Christian life, and I even found encouragement and comfort in Scripture. But those are not the primary reason God gave us this book.
God wants us to feast on His Word so that we will find our deepest satisfaction in Him. He wants us to grow not just in knowledge of Him but in love with Him also. And in those moments of private worship and Bible study last summer, I discovered a fullness of joy and life that I had never known was possible.
If you’re in that place of longing to grow deeper in your intimacy with God, I invite you to join me in learning to FEAST on His Word.
Let’s dig in.
How to FEAST on the Word of God
Whether you’re new to Bible study or have been studying the Bible for many years, this FEAST method will bring richness to your personal quiet time and increase your love and knowledge of God.
Grab your Bible and a notebook, and find a quiet place where you’ll be uninterrupted. Silence your phone and other distractions, and keep a piece of paper next to you just in case you need to jot down distracting thoughts.
Begin by asking God to focus your heart and mind on Him.
Pray in your own words, or use hymns (like “Speak o Lord” by the Gettys or “Word of God, Speak” by MercyMe) and Scripture (like Psalm 139:23–24) to prepare your heart.
Then choose a passage to focus on during your study time.
Engage the Text
Read the passage and engage it by writing down observations (the 5 W’s is a good place to start). Ask yourself, “What does it say?” and write down the answers.
Let’s pause for a moment and recognize that we’re each in different seasons of life. Some of us have a whole hour to devote to Bible study while others of us have only 5 minutes. It’s okay. Read the Bible anyway. God will honor your desire to know Him deeper and He will multiply the little that you have to produce an abundance of spiritual fruit in your life. And when you have more time, give Him more time.
You can go deeper in your study by trying any of the ideas below (links lead to tutorials from last year’s 31 Days to Deeper Bible Study series):
- diagram the passage
- do a word study
- read the passage out loud
- doodle the passage
- act out the scene
- identify patterns (repetition, comparison, contrast, cause and effect, etc)
- check a different translation
- research the cultural and historical background (author, recipients, setting, purpose, theme, tone, etc)
Assess the Meaning
Write down anything that doesn’t make sense to you and check cross-references and commentaries. Consider the context and genre of the passage and then assess the main idea of the passage by answering the question, “What did it mean to the original audience?”
A simple way to do this is to ask of the passage: Is there a command to obey? A sin to avoid? A lesson to learn? An attribute of God to praise Him for? At this point, you’re still working with the text, so make sure you’re using “them,” “there,” and “then” language; you’ll transition to “us,” “here,” and “now” in the next step.
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Ask the Holy Spirit to spark transformation in your life by applying the big idea in specific and measurable ways. Determine if the Big Idea of the passage is a pattern, principle, or universal teaching by considering how similar or different you are from the original audience. For example, just because the Old Testament law dictated that Israelites couldn’t wear clothes made of mixed fabrics (Lev 19:19) doesn’t mean Christians today are under the same interdiction.
As you ask, “How does this apply to me?” make the application SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
Turn Toward God
Unless Bible information leads to God-adoration, reading the Bible is pointless. So after hearing God speak to you through His Word, respond to Him with praise, confession, and thanksgiving.
Our Bible study each day should culminate not in a list of things to do but rather in a million reasons to worship. Even as we wrap up our time in the Word of God, we continue to turn our hearts toward Him with whispered prayers and songs of praise, always mindful of His presence in our lives.
I can’t help but think of Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” I love this picture of Jesus longing to join us for a meal. Won’t you sit down with Him and feast at His table today?
Dig deeper into God’s Word by using the FEAST Bible study method. Download the free FEAST bookmark here.