10 Steps to Digging Deeper into God’s Word

woman studying and reading bible, how to dive deeper into scripture

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

Since I was a child, I have been fascinated with Scripture. I used to spend hours in elementary school reading the Old Testament out loud to my mom while she drove me to my activities. At that point in time, I wanted to be a lawyer and I thought God’s law was the best training I could receive. Thirty years later, with a seminary education instead of a law degree, I have learned how to receive more from the Bible than what is seen at face value.

Here are 10 steps that have helped me have more meaningful interaction with Scripture.

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  • praying hands on open bible

    1. Begin with Prayer


    Even though the Bible is a text, we must also remember that it is the Living Word of God which He uses to communicate with us. If we want to gain a better understanding about who God is and who we are in response to Him, it is best if we turn our hearts to Him before we begin. I try to begin my time in Scripture with a time of prayer to submit my heart to God, allowing Him to search me and cleanse me, so that I am ready to hear what He has to say.

    “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

    2. Select the Passage

    There are many great methods of Bible Study. Some people enjoy topical Bible studies, while others enjoy books studies. Reading the Bible chronologically is a great way to understand how the events of Scripture took place. If you are new to studying Scripture, the Gospel of John is my favorite place to start. My recommendation is to be consistent in your approach to Scripture rather than opening the Bible to a random place each day.

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

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  • desert scene

    3. Understand the Context


    While in seminary, several professors used the phrase, “context is king.” The more I study Scripture, the more I realize how much this principle is true. Taking Scripture out of context is almost as dangerous as reading a random scrap of paper and trying to know its meaning. Without knowing the reason why the statement was written, it is impossible to know its interpretation. Here are some questions to ask about a passage of Scripture you read before you begin:

    • Who wrote this passage?
    • Who did he write it to?
    • Why did he write it?
    • What type of writing is this?

    The different genres of Scripture serve different purposes. The more you understand their purposes, the better clarity you will have regarding what the author is wanting to say.

    “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

    4. Read and Observe the Passage

    One of my first assignments in seminary was to take Acts 1:8 and give 50 observations on the verse. The next day, the professor told us to go back and write out another fifty. At first, I thought the man was crazy. But he taught me a valuable lesson about observing what the text has to say. By looking at each word closely and examining the subject, the meaning, the grammar, etc., you begin to notice details you once missed.

    “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)

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  • Man reading his Bible under a tree

    5. Ask Interpretation Questions


    In writing down my observations, I typically develop questions about what the text means. When studying Scripture, I simply write these questions down so that I can research them. For instance, if I were studying Acts 1:8, and I didn’t understand what Jesus meant by “Judea,” I will simply write down the word to study it later. Once I have all of my questions for the passage, I begin my quest for interpretation. If you have a good study Bible, or Bible dictionary, or Bible encyclopedia, these are useful resources for answering many of your interpretation questions.

    How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:9-11)

    6. Define the Main Point

    After answering whatever interpretation questions I may have with the passage; I then try to look at the passage and see what the key principle or promise is within the text. What is the text saying about God or what is it saying on how I should respond to Him? This begins to narrow the passage of Scripture into one key thesis statement for you to learn from and take to heart.

    “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” (Proverbs 420-22)

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  • woman reading bible thinking deeply

    7.  Apply Passage to an Example from Today


    Here is where Bible study begins to get personal. Take a moment to ask yourself, “where do I see this passage played out today?” Continuing with our Acts 1:8 illustration, I would ask myself, how is the Church doing at continuing to spread the gospel both at home and abroad? While understanding the Bible in its original context is great, we ultimately want to know how it affects us today.

    “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-27)

    8. Relate to Scripture

    When I study a passage of the Bible, I ask God to show me why I should care. What is it that He wants to change in me through His Word? This is the main point of Scripture for me that particular day. Because God’s Word is alive and active, He has given me different applications for the same Scripture. This is not saying that His Word changes, but the way the Spirit applies Scripture to our lives does. It is in this step that I ask God to search my own heart and find ways to change me from the inside out.

    “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

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  • girl holding bible in sunny field

    9.  Apply Scripture


    After gaining an understanding of the passage and seeing how it relates to my current situation, it is now time to put Scripture into action. What are some practical ways I can live out the passage today? These are ideas I come up with to apply the principles of the Bible passage. For instance, if I studied Acts 1:8, I would think of ways I could personally becoming more involved in spreading the gospel in my community and the world by being intentional with my neighbors and supporting worldwide ministries.

    “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

    “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

    10. Respond to God in Prayer

    I close my time in prayer, thanking God for revealing Himself to me. I recognize that all access I have is because of the sacrifice of Christ. I ask that the Lord help me live out the principles of Scripture through the help of His Spirit.

    “But he answered, 'It is written, ‘“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’” (Matthew 4:4)

    It may seem that a One Minute devotional with God is an easier route, but I have found that in my walk with the Lord, the days I spend quality time with Him are the days I am transformed by Him. I hope you will take an opportunity and try some of these tips to deepen your understanding of God’s word and grow in your relationship with Him. Christ’s ultimate desire is that we know Him, love Him, and abide in Him.

    “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,” (John 8:31)

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    Cortney Whiting is a wife and mom of two preteens. She received her Master of Theology Degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. After serving in the church for nearly 15 years, Cortney currently teaches at a Christian school and writes for various Christian ministries. You can find her at her blog, https://recapturefaith.com.