Friday, July 22, 2016

How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It – 5 Strategies

I remember the first time I tried to read the Bible for myself. I was 17 years old. I’d recently gone over the baptism questions. One of the elders asked me if I’d ever read the Bible cover to cover. My honest answer was ‘No.’ I was SURE I wasn’t going to be approved for baptism. (To my shock, I was indeed.)

That night I thought I’d give it a try. I sat down on the floor, cross-legged, with the Bible on my lap. I opened it slowly … reverently … and began to read.

I was fascinated by God’s creation of the heavens, earth, and man in Genesis 1–2.

I was swept into the drama of man’s temptation and fall in Genesis 3.

I was saddened by Cain’s murder of Abel in Genesis 4.

I felt like I had discovered a lost book—the key to the universe! I was captivated.

Then I hit the “begats” in Genesis 5. (“So-and-so became father to..., etc.”)

Oh boy.

My eyes glazed over.

I closed the Bible, stood up, and slipped it back on the shelf. I didn’t pick it up again for quite some time, other than for my meeting preparation.

Have you had similar experiences? You know you should read the Bible; you just don’t know how to begin.

“Drawing near to God is good for me. I have made the Sovereign Lord Jehovah my refuge.” (Psalm 73:28)

If you are feeling kind of lost in your quiet time with God, maybe consider one of these approaches:

The Five P Bible Study Method

Step 1: Position yourself to hear from Jehovah. (Clear out distractions and pray that Jehovah helps you stay focused.)

Step 2: Pore over the passage.  Paraphrase the major points.  (Ask yourself questions such as who is this about? When did this take place?  What happened? Where did this happen? Why did this happen?)

Step 3: Pull out the spiritual principles. (What does this teach me about Jehovah?)

Step 4: Pose the question. (Create a question directed at yourself from the spiritual principle. For example, if the spiritual principle is ‘God is faithful,’ your question could be “What areas of my life do I need to trust in God’s faithfulness?”)

Step 5: Plan obedience and pin down a date. (How are you going to obey and when are you going to do it?)

The SPECK Bible Study Method

Step 1: Sins to avoid – make a list of things mentioned in this passage that we should avoid.

Step 2: Promises to claim – make a list of the promises mentioned in this passage. Believe them!

Step 3: Examples to follow – what happened in this passage that you could follow in your own life?

Step 4: Commands to obey – write out the commands that were in your passage. Are you obeying them?

Step 5: Knowledge of God to acquire – what did you learn about Jehovah in this passage?

The OPA Bible Study Method

Step 1: Observations – make a list of facts and things that stand out to you from the passage.

Step 2: Principles – what principles can you draw from your observations? What did you learn?

Step 3: Application – how can you apply these principles to your life? When and how are you going to make this happen?

The Paraphrase Method

This is one of my favorites: After you read a passage, write it out in your own words.  Pretend like you are telling a friend about what you just read and who doesn’t know anything about the Bible. I’ve still got those copious notes, years later!

The 7 Cs {aka the Chapter Study Method}

Step 1:
Caption – Give the chapter a short heading.

Step 2: Contents – Outline the chapter.

Step 3: Chief People – List the major characters in the reading.

Step 4: Central Verse – Select a verse that stood out to you or that is important.

Step 5: Crucial Word(s) – What are the key words in the reading?

Step 6: Challenges – What don’t you understand? What concepts do you struggle with?

Step 7: Cross References – Use these to help you to understand the reading better.

Many of the above ideas are based on an excellent Watchtower article that I have always cherished: “Benefiting From Daily Bible Reading” (w95 5/1 13-17). Check out the chart on pages 16 and 17 called “Suggestions to enhance your Bible reading.” Excellent ideas!

I’m happy to say that I’ve come a long way from those days back when I did the baptism questions, and I’ve since read the Bible, cover to cover, many times overs.

Don’t get hung up on what you don’t understand. Like Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

Would you like a free printable read-the-Bible-in-a-year schedule? We have all sorts of different formats. Just click here and click Bible Reading Schedules.

Questions: If you aren’t a Bible reader, what’s keeping you from it? If you are, what advice would you offer others? You can leave a comment below.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Dear Michael: Wow. Your words remind me of something we studied in the Bible reading just a couple weeks ago. Psalm 64:3. Please check that again. Please remember, Michael before posting public comments, that many folks, witnesses and non-witnesses read them. Best wishes to you! šŸ™‚ Please review Romans 14:1 and Luke 6:37.

  2. How did you get passed the 'begets' passages, as well as the long stories of battles and conquers? Those have kept me from reading the Bible all the way through

    1. Why not look at these parts of God's Word as an exercise in patience. Jehovah put them in there for a reason so just take it as an exercise for building up the fine quality of patience or long suffering as the 'Reference Bible' puts it. Only if you read through these parts as well will you be able to tell yourself that you have read God's Word completely. Agape

    2. Excellent suggestion, Sunny. Thanks! :D

    3. Imagine 2000 years after Armageddon, we have a new book that lists all of us (Jah willing) that walked through and survived. Would you want to show your several generations great grandchildren your name? Would you want them to skim over it? That is one thing that helps me get through them - Jehovah had them included for a reason and it shows He knows His servants by name. Shows His order too; I have volunteered many times in food service when we used to have it at the conventions, but I could hardly remember the names of a dozen people that worked with me, but Jehovah remembers all we do for Him. Also, I look for names that may be similar in other accounts I've read.
      My personal hard ones were getting through the book of Job (the false 'friends' get on my nerves and I would just go to the end), Lamentations (don't read if you are already sad or depressed; read in the sunshine if you can), and some of the minor prophets (the timeline in the book helped with that; seeing how their lives overlapped and sorting who was talking to Israel and who was talking to Judah helped); that was all tougher than the names for me. Glad to say I read our Platinum Bible all the way through within the year we got it. I also like to pray to find something that I haven't noticed before, esp. for sections that I have read several times. HTH

  3. When going through the "begats" I always check to see if I recognize any of the names from the Bible stories. This helps to keep me engaged.

  4. I appreciate the information to memorize the verses in the Bible I had an injury that affects my memory and I struggle daily. At one point I had a good memory and had no problems but now I do my Bible reading and write down scriptures to read over again. This information will surely help as well


    Your sis Karen Bennett

  5. Love this. Thanks so much for sharing. Very

  6. Thank you for sharing the various methods for keeping bible reading engaging. I have been trying my best to get on track with daily bible reading and using our publications to find ways to do so and truly be able to concentrate on what I'm reading. I will review these methods as well as see if I can find one that works best for me...or use them all over time to keep it "fresh". Thanks again!

  7. thanks for this nice sharing :)

  8. All of the songs are beautifully arranged. My favorite one is song 143(77 in the new book). Music like this makes me want to play musical instruments all day long.