Growing up in the Adventist church, I heard a lot of emphasis on a personal relationship with God through Bible study and prayer, but I wasn’t told how to do it. When I first got baptized, I tried to read the Bible straight through, but I struggled. Reading the Bible was hard. It felt like a duty to check off the boxes and not like a love letter between God and me. This propelled me on a journey to discover different ways to study the Bible and fall more in love with God.
So, here’s a list of different Bible study methods that I’ve tried for my own personal Bible studying. Be creative. Maybe something will work for you, or maybe you can find your own methods.
- Color Marking: My mom loves to use this method. If you pick up her Bible, you’ll see countless verses underlined in various colors. Here’s how it works. You’ll need colored pencils; I’d start with about six. The next step is to make a key that matches the color with a category. For example, green is for promises, red is for warnings and blue is for questions. Read a chapter a day and color in verses that fit your category. One thing that I enjoy from this method is that when I’m feeling down, I can open my Bible and God’s promises pop right out.
- Topic Studying: One of my friends uses this all the time. It’s really quite simple. Pick a topic that you’re interested in. Use a lexicon to search up where that topic is present in the Bible. Read all these verses and record what you find. Heads up: This can be a time-consuming method. I’ve done it a couple of times on Sabbath afternoons when I had a lot of time on my hands.
- Summarizing: Personally, this is one of my favorite methods. I like to call it the sticky note method because that’s what I used when I first started. This is how it goes: Read the story. Pick a verse that stood out to you and write it on a sticky note. Then on the back side, write why you picked it. Stick it up where you can see it for the rest of the day as a reminder of what you learned. Finally, keep all your sticky notes in a box. I have a little wooden box in my room full of these sticky notes, and it’s so much fun to open the box and remember why different verses hold different meanings for me.
- Journaling: If you like writing, you may enjoy this method. It’s easy, but it has led me to some profound insights. The way I journal is by doodling my thoughts, reactions and confusion in the pages of a journal. Right now, I’m reading the book of Psalms and am journaling my way through. It’s amazing to take a moment to imagine interacting with the text.
- Memorization: If you’ve ever been a part of Pathfinder Bible Experience (PBE), you’re probably a pro at this already. As soon as I joined Pathfinders, I joined PBE and learned to memorize huge portions of the Bible for team competitions. I’m an auditory learner for long term memory. In other words, I need to listen to the Bible text over and over again to memorize it. Sometimes I’ll go for a walk while I listen to a Bible chapter. There are other ways of memorizing such as flashcards and fill in the blank cards. You can find a lot of these free resources online.
So, pull off your Bible from the shelf, blow off the dust and try something. You might be surprised at what you find.