Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.
In 2018 we have so many resources at our hands to hear and learn from God’s Word. Podcast sermons, YouTube videos, and more offer an unlimited library of Bible teaching. At the same time, I’ve learned there is nothing greater than hearing from the Lord yourself through the Study of His Word.
I also know studying the Bible can feel intimidating and confusing if you’re not sure where to start or what to do. But I want to encourage you that the Study of the Bible is not limited pastors and theologians alone. God gave His Word to all of us for guidance, protection, comfort and so much more.
So today I’m sharing with you a simple 4 step process to help you learn and grow from studying your Bible. I call it the 4 R’s of Bible Study which stands for:
Now before we get into the 4 R’s I want to remind you that Bible Study isn’t something we do for God, it’s what we do with God. The Bible tells us His Word is living and active and we need His guidance and the leading of the Holy Spirit to be able to hear God through His Word. And we do that by simply asking for it. Our primary prayer should be to ask God to lead us through the study of His Word and then trust that He will. This will greatly take away a lot of the intimidation of studying the Bible because when we focus on God first we’re reminded that the pressure is not all on us but that God is with us and He wants to speak to us through His Word.
Now let’s get into the 4 “R”‘s of Bible Study.
The first R stands for READ.
As you read your selected scripture for study you’ll want to ask yourself the question, “what is the scripture saying?” Our suggestion is to read the text more than once and even in different translations. You’ll also want to read the scripture in full context. This means studying the surrounding verses of your scripture, it’s containing chapter, or even book. It is important to note, that reading the surrounding scripture will help to ensure you’re pulling out the intended meaning of the verse.
As you read, there are a few things you’ll want to write down. First, write out any key verses that particularly stick out to you. Writing God’s Word is a great way to memorize it, and keep it on your mind and heart.
Next, you’ll want to see if you can paraphrase what the scripture is saying in your own words, to make sure you’re truly grasping an understanding of the text. And finally, take note of the who, what, when, where and why of the text. For example, “Who wrote this scripture”, “what is happening in this verse”, “when was it written and where”, and “why was it written”. Gaining insight into the background of the scripture will significantly impact your understanding of what’s being said.
After you’ve read the scripture, you’ll then want to REFLECT. Ask yourself the question, “what does this scripture mean?” This is where you will draw out the lessons that are meant to be learned from the text. These lessons will usually be in the form of a PROMISE, PRINCIPLE or COMMAND.
A PROMISE is a declaration that God will do something. It is not conditional, it’s simply a statement about God or a characteristic of Him based on who He is. When Jesus says “I will be with you always” in Matthew 28:20, that is a promise not dependent upon what we do or don’t do.
A PRINCIPLE is a foundational truth that is conditional. It’s a statement that says if you do this, then this will result. Let’s look at the popular scripture Psalm 37:4, which says:
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Many people mistake this verse as a promise that God will grant us the desires of our hearts. But this is not a promise, it is a principle. When we first delight ourselves in Him, then we will receive the desires of our heart.
A COMMAND is an authoritative directive or order from God. It’s simply God telling us how He wants us to live our lives. Think of the 10 commandments. Love God. Don’t steal. Love your neighbor. Don’t Kill. Commands are orders from God on how to conduct ourselves.
As you reflect on the scripture you’ll want to write down any promises to believe, principles to live by, or commands to follow. By reflecting on His Word in this way, you’re digging deeper into the text to gain a greater meaning.
Once you’ve taken time to reflect, you will then want to RESPOND to the scripture. You’re asking yourself,“what can I practically do to live out what I’ve learned?” One reason we read God’s Word is so that we can be changed by its truth. So once you’ve learned from the scripture you’re studying, make a plan to do what it says.
If the scripture reveals that you need to focus on God more and not be so easily distracted, maybe you could try to take a break from social media or whatever may be holding on to your attention outside of necessities. If the text helps you to learn the importance of thanksgiving, perhaps you could start a gratitude journal. When we reflect on the Word we learn WHAT we need to do. However, as we respond to the Word, we discover HOW we can practically do it.
Reading and studying the Bible is much easier than actually living it out. This is why the last “R” stands for REQUEST. Request means we pray to God for the help and strength that only He can provide. After you study it is important to pray over what you’ve learned. Many call this “praying the scriptures”. Use what you’ve learned from your study, to guide your prayers.
If you learned from a study that forgiveness is important in the Christian life and that you should forgive because God forgives us; then you should take time to pray that God would help you in this area. For example, you may ask God to forgive you for any unforgiveness you may have in your heart, and then strengthen you as He works to change your heart to forgive those who may have hurt you. The life change that studying God’s word offers doesn’t come from simply reading the word alone. It comes from inviting God into our hearts to enable us to live out what we’ve learned to be true. So seal in the truths that you’ve learned, by praying over what you’ve studied.
So that’s my easy 4 step process to studying the Bible for yourself. READ, REFLECT, RESPOND, REQUEST. And to make this as simple as possible for you, I’ve created the “How to Study the Bible” workbook filed with printable study pages, examples, tips and more to help guide you the next time you study the Bible. Click here to download now.
Before you go I’d love to hear from you. Please comment and let me know what is your life verse? What scripture completely transformed you and your relationship with God. I can’t want to read your scriptures in the comments where you’ll also find mine.
If today’s post was helpful please be sure to share with a friend because you never know who might need some Beloved encouragement today.