4 simple steps to studying the Bible
Bible study is arguably one of the most important parts of our day. And yet, I think we can all say that when life gets crazy, Bible study is often one of the first things to go.
I know this is true in my own life. When overwhelm hits, and my list feels way too long, I’m quick to skip Bible study and instead start working down the list of tasks that just HAVE to get done that day. Anyone else?
I think sometime we do this because while Bible study feels important, it also feels complicated. And we want to “do it right”. You know – a quiet place, a cup of tea, maybe a candle burning, Bible and journal out in front of us and all the time in the world. And if we can’t do it right, well, we’re going to wait until we can.
Except that time never comes. Because life DOES get crazy.
So today I want to talk about how to keep your Bible study SIMPLE and not at all intimidating. We’re going to talk about 3 ways you can start the habit of reading the Bible every day in a way that’s actually doable, even when the craziness hits.
How to study the Bible in a simple, approachable way:
1. Choose a simple reading plan.
There’s nothing more overwhelming than sitting down with all 66 books of the Bible and NO PLAN IN SIGHT. Where do you start? When do you end? What are you even supposed to be doing? Friends, this is not a helpful way to read.
Instead, consider using a simple reading plan. I use the reading plan we include in our membership each month, which takes you through a book of the Bible in bite-sized steps, and gives you the option for additional reading each day if you want to go deeper. And also? You get the weekends off, which makes it real easy to “catch up” if you need to.
I also have used (and loved) plans from She Reads Truth, the YouVersion Bible app, and even just the reading plan inside the back cover of my Bible! There are a lot of options out there, but the point is – pick just one and stick with it from beginning to end. (3-4 weeks is a great amount of time to start with!) (Here are a few of my favorite studies & Bibles.)
Giving yourself a structure so you know exactly what you’re doing each day is really helpful, and eliminates the decision fatigue of opening your Bible, closing your eyes, and landing your finger on a verse.
2. Don’t be afraid to go slow.
Even with the reading plans I use, I often work much more slowly than their allotted time. This used to be really discouraging to me until I realized that the goal is NOT checking off the boxes on my plan, but spending time in God’s Word and learning more about Him! When I keep this as my purpose, the speed at which I work through a plan no longer matters.
Some days, you’ll have more time and you might want to keep reading, even when your assigned verses are done! And some days, you’ll just be able to read one verse before a little one interrupts you and derails your plans for a quiet morning. All of that is OKAY. Again, the point is not to get a certain amount done every day, but to open your mind to God’s Word, learning more about who He is and who He has made us to be.
3. Use a simple studying system.
I like to read my Bible with 6 pens next to me – 1 ballpoint pen, and 5 highlighters. I take notes as I go and have a simple color-coding system that I use when I study. This helps me soak in what the Bible is actually saying, and not just skim over it.
Right now, I’m teaching Emily to study the Bible the same way, and our process looks a little bit like this:
- Read all the way through the passage once
- Go through the passage again, one section at a time, highlighters in hand, highlighting what we see (according to our system – see photo below)
- Observe what you’ve highlighted and studied. Make notes regarding what you’ve learned in the margin (or you can do this in a journal – I like these ones.)
It’s as simple as that! We are not making it complicated – we’re keeping it simple so that it affects both our minds AND our hearts.
4. Ask yourself 2 important questions.
As we finish our study each morning, I ask two important questions:
- What did this passage teach us about who God is?
- In light of what we learned about God, how are we supposed to live?
These questions are simple, but really keep our focus in the right place. We are remembering that the Bible is GOD’S story, not ours, and meant to teach us primarily about who He is and what He’s done for us. Then, and only then, can we talk about what we might be called to as a response to Him, and what His directions for us might be.
You can write your answers to these questions in the margin of your Bible, in your notebook, or even discuss them with a friend!
That’s it! 4 simple steps to studying the Bible in a way that’s inviting, not intimidating. I’d love to hear if you have any tips in this area too! Share your thoughts below!
Kayse is a wife, mom, and founder of the Anchored Women community. She writes to help women fight busy, find rest, and build a life that’s anchored in Christ. Kayse is also the creator of the S.O.S. Planner, the Anchored Life Kit, and other practical resources that equip women to manage their homes and families in confidence. You can find her writing and her resources at anchored-women.com!
I’ve been writing a sentence or 2 in the notes section of my daily SOS planner about what I learned and how to apply it. Then I can easily see it throughout the day and week! So helpful!
Thank you, Kayse, this is great! I have used a very similar system to yours, and just wanted to add that I found it useful, especially while reading through the New Testament, to have two different highlighter colours for statements that apply to ‘all people’ vs. those that apply to ‘the redeemed’. I found that helped me to understand the difference that the work of Christ has made for us, his followers, and it gave me great encouragement.
I am struggling HARD with getting back into my Bible habit. I’ve found it helps me to listen to it through the YouVersion app, while following along in my physical Bible. It is extremely helpful to keep me from getting distracted!
Another tip I heard, is to keep a distraction notebook nearby, and when you think of all those things you need to do next, instead of getting up and doing them, write it down and do it when you’re done with your study. I have been writing these notes in my regular Bible study book.
Great tips Kayse! I appreciate the encouragement!
Thank you for keeping the emphasis of Bible study on God and his story and not on sinful man. I applaud you for this and your 4 simple steps.
Kayse, thank for the practical guide. It is such a pleasure hearing how other mom’s do their home studying . I do wish I had a proper routine in place, but unfortunately I am still only thinking about doing an in depth Bible study with my kids. We are a Christian family but have neglected to do what we need to at home, and solely relied on Church Services and Sunday school to spend time with God. Not good enough! I am embarrassed about the neglect, and I am moving towards rectifying it very soon. I have 3 kids aged 14, 15 and 15, so reading the children’s versions of Bible stores are not ideal. I fear that taking the Bible and simply starting cover to cover is also not going to work. Do you have any suggestions for a mom who will have to start from scratch to get the family enjoying and learning from the Bible.