Have you ever asked yourself what type of Bible study you enjoy most?
There are many Bible study techniques and methods. Sometimes pastors and Bible teachers give the impression that there is only one “right way” to study the Bible because they have already answered this question for themselves. They know the type of Bible study they enjoy most. Therefore, they always use their preferred or favorite Bible study method. Consequently, they also promote their method of Bible study to others.
I want to encourage you to try out different Bible study methods. During your Bible study time, talk with God to determine how you and He best like to interact through Bible study. What Bible study method (or methods) helps your relationship with God grow the most?
TWO BROAD CATEGORIES OF BIBLE STUDY
There are two broad categories of Bible study with which you may (or may not) be familiar. They are called Deductive Bible Study and Inductive Bible Study.
Deductive Bible Study is when you begin with a specific belief (e.g., God is loving, or lying is wrong), and then you search the Bible for verses that support this specific belief.
For example, you may want to know if prayer is important to spiritual growth. You believe prayer is important to spiritual growth, but you want biblical support for your belief.
Therefore, you begin finding all the Bible verses that present your belief about prayer. As you study the Bible verses, you look for as much evidence as possible to affirm your belief (i.e., prayer is important to spiritual growth). The more Bible verses you find to support your belief, the better.
However, what happens if you find one or more Bible verses that present a different belief than the one you are trying to support? What do you do with this additional or alternative information in the Bible? How might it impact your belief?
This potential dilemma of competing evidence leads me to the second broad category of Bible study, called Inductive Bible Study.
Inductive Bible Study is when you use a specific study process (e.g., steps, questions, or tools) to examine the Bible verses to discover the truths presented in the Bible. You study the Bible and seek to learn what it says first, and then you try to establish your belief from what you learn the Bible says.
There are various inductive Bible study methods, but they all follow similar processes. I want to provide two examples of inductive Bible study. One follows four steps, and the other follows four questions.
Four Steps Approach to Bible Study (P-O-I-A method)
- Step 1. Pray before you begin your Bible study. Ask God to guide you to truth.
- Step 2. Observe the Bible verses. Ask questions to discover what the verses
- Step 3. Interpret the Bible verses. Ask questions to discover what the verses
- Step 4. Apply the truths discovered to your daily life.
You can find this step-by-step process with worksheets in our Courage For Life Study Guide if you want a more detailed explanation of the P-O-I-A method. You can purchase in our online bookstore here.
Another inductive approach to Bible study is called the Four Question Approach to Bible Study. The Four Questions Approach is like the four steps approach but uses questions to guide the Bible study process.
You select a Bible book to begin your study.
You designated a time to study the Bible.
What do you do during your Bible study time?
Begin with Prayer.
Ask these four questions to help you study the Bible.
- What does the Bible say? Literally, write out what the Bible says.
- What does the Bible mean? Ask God what the meaning of what is said is.
- How does my life compare to what the Bible says and means?
- How is my life changing because I’m living life in a relationship with God?
End with Prayer.
For a more detailed explanation of the Four Questions Approach to Bible Study, read the Courage For Life blog entitled How to Grow Your Relationship with God.
Both deductive and inductive Bible study can be used to study the Bible. However, I have found that the inductive Bible study method allows the Bible to speak on a topic before I do! Did you see what I did just there? I inserted my preference for inductive Bible study over deductive Bible study in my last statement. Why would I do this? Because I, like other Bible teachers, am promoting the type of Bible study I enjoy most!
Remember, no matter what Bible study method you choose or enjoy the most, your time interacting with God is the focus of your Bible study, not the method. Your goal of Bible study is to grow your relationship with Him. What Bible study method creates the most growth in your relationship with God – maybe start with that method!
After determining one or several Bible methods that help grow your relationship with God, apply some practical tips for studying the Bible. Hopefully, these practical tips will motivate you to invest in your relationship with God through studying the Bible.
Tip #1: Spend quality time together.
To spend quality time interacting with God, you must plan to do so and schedule your time with God through studying the Bible. When is the best time for you to study the Bible? How often and what activities constitute quality time together? Just like you spend quality time to develop other relationships, schedule quality time with God through Bible study and keep this appointment. The engagement in quality time with God in Bible study will be evidence of your desire to grow in your relationship with Him.
Tip #2: Stay connected.
Throughout your day, listen and talk with God about anything and everything, especially what you are studying in the Bible. Be honest in your communication with God. If you have questions, misunderstandings, joys, hurt feelings, excitement, confusing thoughts – whatever it is – talk to God about it.
Depending on where you are and who is around, you may (or may not) talk aloud to God for others to hear but talk to God either in your mind or make notes of your communication with God. What you say to God and what you sense God is saying to you is important, so make sure you record your conversations and listen carefully. You want to remember what God says to you, and you want to remember what you say to God.
We know how to stay connected already. It’s why we immediately text and post. We enjoy sharing our life experiences with others, asking them questions, and letting them know what we are thinking or doing. It’s why we read and re-read messages from others or what we send them. We know how to stay connected with others, so apply some of those same practices to stay connected with God to grow your relationship with Him.
Tip #3: Strengthen your awareness.
As you interact with God through studying the Bible, recognize what is important to God. What does He enjoy doing? How does God respond to others? What does God appreciate and expect in a relationship with you? What do you appreciate and expect in a relationship with God? Do you and God have the same expectations of your relationship? What are you learning about yourself through your relationship with God in Bible study? Are your God-awareness and self-awareness being strengthened through your study of the Bible? How?
Tip #4: Remain committed
In every relationship, you start with ambitious plans and glorious dreams. Soon you may face problems, difficulties, setbacks, unmet expectations, and you may even want to give up on the relationship. God is wholeheartedly committed to you – are you fully committed to your relationship with God?
Also, realize there will be amazing, fruitful times of relationship growth between you and God when you are studying the Bible. There will also be seasons of what seems like drought – when you study the Bible and are puzzled by God or deeply challenged by what you learn or the Bible exposes a false belief you have held.
Your relationship with God needs constant care and investment. Choose to face the problems with God. Be open to change. Resolve issues quickly with God. Don’t avoid God by skipping your Bible study or failing to talk with God throughout the day. Remain committed to growing your relationship with God through Bible study.
Remember to try out various Bible study methods to determine which helps you grow in your relationship with God the most. Also, apply some of these practical tips to Bible study to help support your relationship with God.
Watch the LIVE REPLAY of our discussion on Bible study methods. Join us LIVE every Monday at 3 p.m. ET on @GodGivesCourage Instagram for our Spiritual Growth Series and check back here on Tuesdays for the companion blog post.