As a new believer, I had often been encouraged to read the Bible, but was confused how to study the Bible on my own. Yet I knew a Bible study habit was key to experiencing a deeper connection with God and living my full identity in Christ.
However, there was just one big obstacle that stood in my way. I was confused how to understand the Bible! Every time I tried to read God’s Word for myself, I would walk away confused and honestly, a little overwhelmed.
It wasn’t until one morning I sat on my couch as a frazzled and exhausted special needs mom when I dared to try again.
Spiritually I was dry and craving the hope of the Lord. Overwhelmed but determined, I opened God’s Word and started to read the Bible for myself for the first time.
That day I learned an important lesson: Bible study doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming. Instead, I found that immersing my soul in biblical truths is the key to a full, abundant life in Christ. And you can experience it for yourself, too!
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3 questions to think through before you start reading the Bible
When I first start studying Scripture, I would stumble out of bed, throw open my Bible to a random verse, and call it a day. Yet a thriving Bible study isn’t based on reading a quick Scripture passage just to check Bible study off your to-do list
Instead, to have a meaningful quiet time, you need to think through a few obstacles and create a flexible routine.
And I promise, once you find your rhythm and a routine that works for you, you’ll meet God with excitement each day.
Before you read the Bible, start here
Any new routine takes time to develop a habit and to find a rhythm that works for you. Bible study is no different.
Once I processed the following questions, it helped me create a quiet time routine that worked for me and I looked forward to it each day.
- When will you study the Bible? Look at your schedule and determine when is a practical time each day to meet with God. Don’t be surprised if it varies each day, too!
- Where will you have your quiet time? Will you sit at your kitchen table or in that big comfy chair you love, to meet with God? Knowing this helps me gather my supplies and have my quiet time materials ready the night before.
- How long do you have to read the Bible and pray? If you’re a mom who wants to get up before her kids to meet with the Lord (which I highly recommend), how long will you have to read before the kids are up? Expect interruptions and have a backup study-time just in case chaos ensues! Or consider using a Bible app to have easy access to God’s Word on the go.
The easier you make your Bible study routine fit into your life, the easier it will be to stay on track. (Ask me how I know…)
How to Study the Bible as a Beginner
Prepare your heart
Before you crack open the Good Book, invite God to be the cornerstone of your life and heart. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you through His Word and to guide your study time.
Open with prayer, and ask the Lord to fill you with wisdom as you seek Him. Confess any hesitations or obstacles, and pray for God to remove anything that stands in your way of knowing Him intimately through His Word.
Examine your heart and be sure your motives are pure. Be sure you’re not starting a quiet time to check off Bible study on your to-do list. but instead, be sure you’re doing it because of your love for the Lord.
Release any need to be perfect or desire to feign perfection to God. Instead, ask the Lord to show you the areas of growth needed in your life and the areas where your heart needs to be refined.
Choose a Bible
When I first started seeking the Lord regularly, I had a Bible from the bargain bin of a local bookstore and it worked well for a while. (And you can absolutely use a Bible like that in your study! Feel free to use what you have!)
However, as I matured in my faith, I found it helpful to upgrade to a study Bible.
A study Bible can help you shed light on what’s happening in the book, the culture at the time, and understand how a verse or passage fits into the rest of the book or entire Bible.
There are usually insightful notes that help you understand the Bible and what you’re reading on a deeper level. I also love the maps that show where the events took place. It’s perfect for the woman who longs to really dig into Scripture and understand the whole message of God’s Word.
There are several types of study Bible available, but the most popular include:
ESV (Eastern Standard Version): a version of the Bible that is “an essentially literal translation” and is easier to read than some translations. It has a readability score of about a 10th grade reading level. Since it’s release in 2001, it’s been endorsed by many top Christian scholars. Learn more about the ESV, here
NIV (New International Version): a clear, original translation of the Bible. It has easy to understand language, but the highly accurate translation makes it a popular choice with new believers. Learn more about the NIV, here
NLT (New Living Translation): an easy-to-understand writing style (approximately written at a middle school level), that tells God’s story in a powerful way. It summarizes the message of the original text in modern language, but adheres closely to the intended message of Scripture. Learn more about the NLT, here
KJV (King James Version): is the original English translation of the Bible commissioned by King James I for the Church of England and debuted in 1611. This version of the Bible is one of the most printed books of all times and still remains a popular choice for a Bible today. However, many starting a Bible study turn to different translations because of easier to understand language.
I suggest looking at several translations before you decide which Bible translation is right for you. The Word of God is life-changing and powerful, regardless which version you choose!
Choose study materials
While you certainly don’t need fancy supplies or anything extraordinary to study the Bible, you may wish to see how these study materials can enhance your daily quiet time.
Bible study templates
To help me understand and process what I read in Scripture, I found it helpful to use Bible study templates, such as those in The Quiet Time Toolkit.
The templates provide a Bible study guide for how to process and understand what you read. They can be used with any Bible reading plan or study, too. Since the templates offer lifetime access, you can print them off and use them in your study time forever!
Bible study templates teach you a variety of Bible study methods and practical ways to study the Bible as a beginner. It’s the perfect way to make Bible study simple and practical!
As a bonus, your completed templates and study notes will create a keepsake of your time in the Word for years to come. Imagine the legacy of faith you’ll leave for your family!
These spiritual growth resources became my road map for understanding the Bible and grasping how Scripture was woven together. It eliminated my confusion for how to understand the Bible and was a huge blessing to my quiet time with God! I know they’ll bless you, too!
A Bible dictionary contains similar entries to a standard dictionary, but is filled with biblical terms, people, places, and events.
It’s a helpful way to understand more about key Bible terms and events throughout Scripture. While there are a variety of printed versions depending on topic and translation, you can also use an online Bible dictionary. This King James Bible Dictionary is a great free resource.
A concordance is a great resource for doing a word study and studying the definitions of Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic words. It contains an alphabetized index of words in the Bible. Plus, it includes the verse references, so you can look up the verses on that topic.
As you explore concordances, it’s helpful to note they are usually translation specific. This means you’ll want to get a concordance that’s the same translation as your Bible.
Using a concordance can be a practical way to dig into Scripture and understand the text on a deeper level.
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Decide where to start reading the Bible
When I was a new Christian, I was clueless on where to start. I hear from women around the world who feel the same way. In fact, it’s a huge stumbling block for many starting a Bible study habit.
There are several places one could start reading the Bible. Explore which option is the best place for you to start below:
Starting at the Old Testament: Many who want to start a Bible study pick up the Bible and start at the beginning with the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. A benefit for reading the Bible all the way through is that you get a full picture of the depravity of mankind and how desperate we are for a Savior.
A drawback to reading the Bible from start to finish as a beginner is that the Old Testament can be intimidating with its long list of genealogies. Many find themselves confused and give up before Moses parts the Red Sea in the Book of Exodus!
Starting in the Books of the New Testament: The books in the New Testament are a great way to explore Jesus’ life, His sacrifice, and what His free gift of grace means to all mankind.
A great place start is the Gospels: Matthew, Luke, Mark, and the Book of John, which outline and describe the life of Jesus. This is a powerful way to walk a mile in Jesus’ shoes and grasp the full picture of His sacrifice.
Using a topical Bible reading plan: Another great place to start is using a free topical Bible reading plan. These Bible study guides will help you study a topic and get to know biblical truths around that issue. Plus, they are usually short enough for either a beginner or Bible study veteran to use with ease.
Or, if you’d like to receive a free monthly Bible reading plan in your inbox each month, join our Proverbs 31 Scripture Sisterhood. It’s an email community for women who long to honor God in everyday life and to live on mission for the glory of God. Join above for instant access to our vault of free beginner Bible study plans to jump start your quiet time.
Using a chronological Bible reading plan: This type of Bible reading plan will help you read the entire Bible in the chronological order the events happen. While the books of the Bible are not sequenced chronologically, using a chronological Bible reading plan can help you understand the biblical events as they happen.
Choose a Bible study method
If you search for Bible study methods, you’ll be surprised at how many different ways there are to study the Bible. (I’ve shared my favorite examples below!) No matter which you choose, make sure it’s a method that at least invites you to read Scripture and think through it.
There’s a proven correlation between remembering what you read and writing it out, so make sure regular Scripture writing is a part of your favorite Bible study routine. There’s a study method for all learning styles, so enjoy finding a strategy that works for you.
Effective Bible Study Methods
SWEET Bible Study Method
This Bible study method is a great first step to growing in faith for new believers. This simple acronym helps reminds us of Psalm 34:8.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
Read the Scripture verse(s) twice. The more times you slowly read a verse or passage, the more you’ll notice about the verse.
W- Write it out
Write out the verse(s) word for word.
E- Examine the text
Search the Scripture for actions of God, commands of God, truths about God’s character, how we’re to live, or other important components of these verses.
E- Exalt God through prayer
Spend time in prayer praising God for who He is and His rock-solid character. Also, bring your requests before the Lord and humbly lay them before His throne.
Spend time processing how you can live these Scriptures in action or make a plan to be the hands and feet of Jesus through acts of service.
SOAP Bible Study Method
This simple Bible study method is perfect for when you’re short on time. It takes about 10 minutes, and is perfect for the busy woman who wants to grow in faith, but needs a quick quiet time.
Remember the acronym SOAP for a simple study method:
- S-SCRIPTURE-Read the Scripture passage and write out the verses.
- O-OBSERVE– Record your observations about the verse and the main message of this passage.
- A-APPLY-Write how you can apply this verse to your life and how you can live this message in your daily life
- P-PRAY– Pray and spend time being still before the Lord
Write the Word
As you’re studying Scripture, it’s important to write it out, too. This helps you remember what you read, meditate on it throughout the day, and dive deep into the character of God.
How it works:
- Write the passage
- What are God’s promises to us?
- Describe the character of God.
- What are the actions of God?
- How does God command us to live?
- Notes words and phrases that are repeated
- Apply it to your life.
This practical Bible study method is perfect for learning about God’s character and what He commands of His children in the process
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In-depth study methods
Topical Bible Study
This is one of my favorite ways to study the Bible and one I use often in my own life. Plus, it works well with our free monthly Bible reading plan, and helps you really process what you read.
This study method helps you explore different topics of the Bible, such as the character of God.
How it works:
- Read the verses (if you’re using a Bible reading plan, they often have just one verse listed for the day. Read more than one at a time for maximum impact!)
- What is the common theme of the verses?
- Then, what is revealed about this topic in these Scriptures?
- How are we to live in light of these Scriptures?
- What are the repeated words or phrases about this topic?
- Summarize or write the verses.
- How can we apply these verses to our life?
Are you ready to study the Bible in a deep way? Verse mapping is a great way to dissect a passage of Scripture. It helps you note similarities in verses and dive deep into the meaning of those Bible verses.
Plus, it encourages you to dissect words and explore the meaning of unknown words in their original Greek form.
How it works:
- Write the verse and translation
- Look up the meaning of unfamiliar words or to see how it’s used in context
- What are synonyms for important words in Scripture?
- What are the verses before and after your original verse.
- Note the similarities and differences between the verses.
- How can you apply these verses to your life?
Bible Character Study
A Bible character study helps you explore the life of a person in the Bible. By taking an in-depth look, you’ll begin to understand the culture, their family, and their time period. Seeing how this person intertwines with the life of Jesus and is part of God’s design can help you see how you’re part of His greater plan, too.
How it works:
Before you start a Bible character study, it’s important to note that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are the only perfect characters in the Bible. While the men and women you may study have greatly impacted the world for the kingdom of God, all are still flawed people desperately in need of a Savior.
- First, choose a person to study.
- Then, look up verses on that person in a topical Bible or use Bible Gateway.com as a free and simple way to search for the verses on that person.
- After you read the text a few times (it’s important to read multiple times for maximum understanding), think through the following:
- Who? Who is this person related to?
- What? What are they known for? What godly character traits do they have
- When? When did they live?
- Where? Where did they live?
- How? How did this person impact the world for God? How did God use this person?
These are just a few questions to help you understand the lives of the characters in the Bible. They are a great reminder how God uses broken people and blesses undeserving people with His lavish grace. (Whew! Praise the Lord for His grace!)
Once you’re done with your Scripture reading, end your time with the Lord in prayer. While there’s no best prayer strategy that’s right or wrong, consider:
- Praising God for His flawless character and for the gift of salvation
- Confessing your sins and ask forgiveness for your missteps
- Lifting up prayer requests for others, family, and self
- Worshiping the Lord and spend a few minutes exalting Him for being King of Kings and Lord of Lords
Live it out
Your life wasn’t meant to be segmented and what you learned in your Bible study should go with you throughout the day. As you conclude your quiet time, think through how you can live the verses you read in everyday life. Throughout the day, look for an opportunity to love others like Jesus and to put your faith into action.
Need a Bible study roadmap?
No matter what, strive to study the Bible in a way that’s simple and meaningful for you. Don’t be afraid to try a new Bible study methods or look up commentaries for further understanding.
In fact, streamlining my quiet time with Bible study templates was one the best ways I ignited my spiritual growth. With ready-made templates, it took the guess work out of how I would study, and led me to explore Scripture in a variety of powerful ways.
The Quiet Time Toolkit is the perfect spiritual growth resource to help women learn to study the Bible for themselves and learn to pray with confidence.
What is your best way to study the Bible and ignite your spiritual growth?