Are you looking to go deeper in your faith by studying God’s Word with power and passion? Studying God’s Word using effective Bible study methods is a great way to deepen your faith and grow closer to God through studying Scripture. Whether you are new to studying the Bible or are just looking for new and creative ways to go deeper in your Bible study, take a look at these 14 powerful Bible study methods to study God’s Word!
Why Should We Study the Bible?
You may have heard of this popular acronym for the Bible:
Not only is the Bible the most important instruction book we will ever need to guide our lives, but Jesus is the very Word of God himself.
John 1:1-2 explains it like this:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
The Greek meaning of the word “Word” in this passage is logos, which means speech. It is described as a word, uttered by a living voice, by the sayings of God. Logos is also defined as a decree, or a mandate, and the moral precepts given by God (source).
Whenever we study the Bible, we are drawing closer to Jesus, because he IS the Word of God. He is the God who spoke mountains and seas into existence, and who lovingly wove us together in our mother’s womb. When we study the Word of God, we are studying the very essence of who Jesus is! When we seek to get to know him through the Bible, he will reveal himself to us–because he is the Living Word.
Every page we turn in Scripture is an invitation to know God better. When we approach Bible study this way, it does not have to be a “duty” we do as Christians, but a divine opportunity to draw closer to our Lord and Savior!
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection…Philippians 3:10a
How Can We Understand the Bible Better?
Are you ready to dive deeper into the Word of God and get to know him better? As we seek to understand the Bible and draw closer to God, there are specific strategies and Bible study methods that we can use to help us better understand what we are reading. Remember, God wants to reveal himself to us through his Word, and studying the Bible does not have to be a meticulous task that feels forced and monotonous.
With the right Bible study tools and resources, we can study the Bible in ways that give us deeper spiritual insight, knowledge, and wisdom. So how can we begin to understand the Bible better?
Pray for Understanding
It’s always a great idea to start with prayer. Before diving into the Scriptures, ask God to speak to your heart. Ask him to illuminate your mind and deepen your understanding of who he is. We can pray the same prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesian church:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.Ephesians 1:17-19b
Write Down Words and Phrases you Don’t Understand
Did you know that it is perfectly okay to write and highlight in your Bible? As you read through the Scriptures, pause to highlight, circle, or underline words or phrases you may not understand. Keep a notebook handy and write down those words, and be sure to look them up in a Bible dictionary.
Write down those definitions in your notebook as you read. When we read the Bible, we always want to make sure we have a pen and paper handy, as well as the right Bible study tools we can use as we study. When we read the Bible, we are not reading it like we would a novel, but rather like someone searching for precious rubies and gems!
How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!Proverbs 16:16
Use Bible Study Resources
What Bible study resources can we use to deepen our understanding of God’s Word? Here are some of my favorite online Bible study tools:
I like using these free online tools to better understand the Bible. You can search for any Scripture in the Bible, and these tools will give you additional information about the Scriptures, other Bible verses related to that passage, and you can even read commentaries written by pastors and biblical scholars. Checkout how I use bluetetterbible.org to study the Bible in this post here.
What Supplies do you Need to Study the Bible?
Here are some supplies that you can use to study the Bible:
- A good study Bible
- A pen and journal or notebook
- Highlighters if you like highlighting and color-coding certain portions of Scripture
Related: Check out this post on the top 15 study Bibles for women!
These are just the basic materials you need to get started! If you want to take your Bible study time to the next level, you can invest in a Bible commentary. Bible commentaries are the written works of many biblical scholars who have studied the Bible extensively.
They compile their thoughts and biblical interpretations into a book for people to use as a Bible study resource when studying the Bible. My husband and I use The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, which is the same commentary he used when he was in seminary.
What are Bible Study Methods?
What is a Bible study method? It is simply a procedure, system, or daily routine put into practice to study and understand the Bible. There are dozens of Bible study methods and Bible study systems that you can use in your daily devotion time with God. Let’s take a look at 14 of the most effective Bible study methods that you can easily incorporate into your daily Bible study.
1. The Inductive Bible Study Method
One of my favorite Bible study methods that I love to implement in my personal Bible study time with the Lord is the inductive Bible study method. I first became aware of this method years ago. Our church did a women’s Bible study using Kay Arthur’s Precepts Bible study materials, and it radically transformed the way I studied the Bible. Inductive Bible study helps me to understand the Bible passages I read, and the in-depth study of God’s Word enriches my soul!
The Inductive Bible study Method consists of three main Bible study techniques: observation, interpretation, and application.
The inductive Bible study method is not merely reading the Bible once and then putting it down. It requires careful observation of the passage by asking questions like, Who wrote this book of the Bible? Who was it originally written for? Where did they live? What message was intended for those readers? When studying the Bible, we can write down our observations of what we notice in a notebook.
After you have studied a Bible passage by writing down your observations, the next step in the inductive Bible study method is interpretation. Interpretation is just a fancy word for understanding. In this step we can ask questions like, What does this passage mean? What was the author trying to communicate through the Holy Spirit’s leading? Our interpretation of the Bible is very important, because we want to use what we have observed in the passage to guide our interpretation.
Application is where we can use our understanding of the Bible and apply its meaning to our daily lives. When we seek to apply the Bible to our lives we can ask questions like, What does this passage mean for me today? How can something that was written over 2,000 years ago truly apply to us in our current time and culture? When we carefully study Scripture in the context of the culture and time period it was written in, we can get a better understanding of what that passage means to us today.
2. The SOAP Bible Study Method
The SOAP Bible study method is very similar to the inductive Bible study method. It uses the acronym SOAP to help us better understand the steps involved in this study process. The acronym stands for:
The “S” stands for Scripture, and this is where you choose your Bible passage you want to study. You can choose an entire chapter in the Bible, or read through only a few verses if you want to. Once you have chosen your Scripture, you can read the passage and write down the key Bible verses you are going to study.
The “O” is for observation, which is very similar to the inductive Bible study method. Write down some of the key observations that you notice from the passage, and be sure to look up any words or phrases that you don’t understand.
The “A” stands for application. Once again, we want to make sure that we apply Scripture to our lives and our situations. How does the Bible passage we are studying encourage us to live in ways that are glorifying to God? In what ways does that Scripture inspire us to follow God with all of our hearts? That is the beauty of applying God’s word to our lives, and how Scripture can truly come alive!
The final step in the SOAP method is the “P”, which stands for prayer. I love this step because we should not only begin our time in the Word with prayer, but we should end our Bible study time with prayer as well. What new biblical insights did God reveal to you? How can you pray and ask God to continue to help you to apply God’s Word to your life?
This is where you can praise God for the power and beauty of his Word. Through prayer, you can ask God to continue work in your hearts and in your life.
3. The SOAK Bible Study Method
Courtney from Women Living Well uses the SOAK method in her Bible studies. It essentially has the same steps of the SOAP method, but the acronym reads:
K-Kneeling in prayer
She has a great Bible highlighting color-coding guide that you can use in your Bible study time as you soak in the Word of God!
4. Priscilla Shirer’s 5 P’s Bible Study Method
I absolutely love anything published and produced by Priscilla Shirer. A few years back I went through her Bible study Can We Talk? Soul-Stirring Conversations with God. In this Bible study she outlines the 5 P’s of Bible study that she uses and teaches throughout the book.
The 5 P’s are:
- Position yourself to hear from God
- Pore over the passage and paraphrase the major points
- Pull out the spiritual principles
- Pose the question
- Plan obedience and pin down a date
Okay, there technically are 7 P’s that she discusses in this method! I like this Bible study method because the steps are very specific and practical. In order to position ourselves to hear from God, we can start with prayer and open our hearts to hear what God will speak to us through his Word.
The second step (pore over the passage) is reading through the passage. I like how she encourages us to paraphrase the passage into our own words to make sure we understand what we are reading. When we pull out the spiritual principles, we can use our observations of the passage to discover the key biblical truths.
The last two steps–pose a question and plan obedience get into the interpretation and application of the passage. Questions we can ask ourselves are questions related to the passage that will give us more clarity and understanding of the passage. When we plan obedience, we can then apply the Scripture to our lives and make sure that we are doers of the Word and not just hearers!
Pin down a date is where she invites us to write down a date of when we will begin implementing what we have learned, and if possible, find a prayer partner to hold us accountable to apply what we have studied!
5. Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods
Pastor and author Rick Warren has a book with 12 dynamic Bible study methods that we can use to study God’s Word with power. The book is called Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods: Twelve Ways You Can Unlock God’s Word. The book even has a 40-day challenge to encourage people to get into the Word for God for 40 days and allow God’s Word to transform your life!
The Bible study methods Rick Warren teaches in his book are:
- The Devotion Method
- The Chapter Summary Method
- The Character Quality Method
- The Thematic Method
- The Biographical Method
- The Topical Method
- The Word Study Method
- The Book Background Method
- The Book Survey Method
- The Chapter Analysis Method
- The Book Synthesis Method
- The Verse-by-Verse Analysis Method
6. Creative Bible Study Method (Bible Journaling)
Another fun and powerful way to study the Bible is to use Bible journaling. Bible journaling is a creative approach to studying the Bible because it incorporates art and Bible study together. Even if you aren’t an artist (I’m definitely not either!), you should try this method out!
I recommend using the SOAP Bible study method before starting a Bible journaling page. After you have read and studied a Bible passage, then you can choose one aspect of the Bible passage or verse that you want to illustrate. You can use paint, markers, colored pencils, or mixed media like washi tape, scrapbook paper, stamps or stickers.
7. Book-by-Book Method
In this Bible study method you can choose to read and study the Bible one book at a time. We as a family have been reading through the Bible chronologically during our devotion time as a family before dinner, and we have been using the book-by-book Bible study method. We started in the book of Genesis and have been reading through the Bible one chapter at a time.
We have really enjoyed reading through each of the books of the Bible and seeing how they build on one another. When using the book-by-book method, you don’t have to read the Bible chronologically, but you can choose any book of the Bible you desire and read through it one chapter at a time!
8. Chapter Summary Bible Study Method
The Chapter Summary Method allows you to really dive deeply into one chapter of the Bible by reading through a chapter of the Bible and then summarizing what you have read. Rick Warren covers this Bible study method expensively in his book. The first thing he recommends is that you read the chapter at least five times.
I really like this because reading a chapter several times forces us to slow down and really think about what we are reading. What a powerful way to get better acquainted with the Lord! When reading the chapter 5 times he encourages you to read it differently each time.
- Read the chapter without taking notes
- Read the chapter without stopping
- Read the chapter in a different Bible translation
- Read the chapter aloud
I love this method of Bible study because we can truly become familiar with the passage and remember what we have read. Rick Warren also discusses 10 additional ways to study the Bible using the Chapter Summary Bible method in his book. Such great insights!
9. The APPLE Bible Study Method
Arabah Joy introduces us to the APPLE Bible Study Method. The acronym for APPLE stands for:
A– Attributes of God
P– Principles for Living
L– Lesson Learned (or sin to avoid)
E– Example to follow
I like the APPLE Bible study method because I love studying the attributes of God! When reading a Bible passage, it’s a good idea to find the attributes of God that are mentioned in the passage. Do we see God as being faithful to his people? How is his splendor and holiness displayed?
Do we see examples of his goodness? These are all great questions to consider as we read through the Bible. The Bible will always point us to who God is!
Studying God’s Promises- I also love studying the promises of God. When we study the Bible, the APPLE method encourages us to make note of any promises that God has made to his people. Whether we are reading through the Old Testament or studying a passage in the Gospels, we can take note of the promises God has made to his people, and ultimately to us.
Related: Take a look at these 100 Promises from God’s Word that you can read and study today!
10. The HEAR Bible Study Method
I like the HEAR Bible study method because it is similar to the inductive and the SOAP Bible study methods, because it encourages you to observe, interpret Scripture, and apply God’s Word to your life. The acronym for the HEAR Bible study method stands for:
This Bible study method encourages you to read a passage of Scripture and highlight the portions of the Scripture that stand out to you. You can highlight your Bible with an actual highlighter, or use a pen to underline and circle the Scripture passage that you want to understand more deeply.
The “explain” step is similar to the observation step, where you seek to understand and interpret what the passage is saying. Once again, you can use Bible study tools to help you understand what the Bible passage is saying. Then you can apply what you have learned to your life, and respond to the Scriptures through prayer.
11. The Survey Bible Study Method
The Survey Bible study method takes a “bird’s eye” view of a book of the Bible by helping you to see how the book is structured and outlined. It is definitely important to do a survey study of the book of the Bible before diving into the book chapter-by-chapter.
When we do a “bird’s-eye” survey of the entire book we can ask questions like, Who wrote the book? When was it written? Who was the author originally speaking to? Most study Bibles have great surveys of what each book of the Bible is about, and it is a great place to start when you are ready to dive into a new book of the Bible to study!
12. The Word Study Method
I really enjoy using the Word Study Method because I definitely consider myself to be a word nerd! I studied foreign languages and linguistics in college, and I always find it fascinating to study Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, which are the languages the Bible was originally written in. When you do a Word study, you can take a passage of Scripture and highlight a passage you want to further understand.
You can then look up the original Greek or Hebrew meaning of a word in that passage to gain a better understanding of what that word means. I have found that studying different words in Scripture makes the Bible come alive even more, and it gives me greater richness to the meaning of the entire passage.
Related: Take a look at this blog post on how I use the Word study Bible study method, and get the free Word Study printables you can download!
13. The Verse Mapping Study Method
Verse mapping is another creative way to study the Bible inductively by observing a Bible passage, observing the passage through note-taking, and writing down how the Scripture passage can be applied to your life. There is no right or wrong way to do verse mapping, it is just another way to organize your thoughts and observations about a passage of Scripture.
Some people use highlighting, circling words and phrases, and ask themselves observations about the passage, like (who, where, what, how, and why). Susan from Women of Noble Character has a great verse mapping sheet that you can download to get started with verse mapping.
14. The Topical Bible Study Method
The Topical Bible Study Method is a quick and easy way to study the Bible by looking up specific topics in the Bible that you want to study further. These topics may include categories like forgiveness, anger, love, joy, etc. Many people choose to do topical Bible studies if they want to know what the Bible specifically teaches about certain topics. They may ask themselves questions like “What does the Bible say about _________?”
These types of Bible studies can give us a greater understanding of the topics we want to learn about, but it is also important to read Scripture in it’s full context. For example, if we are doing a topical Bible study on love, we can find lots of Scriptures that talk specifically about love, like 1 Corinthians 16:14,
Do everything in love.
We also need to read the surrounding Bible verses in 1 Corinthians 16 to see what else the author (in this case, Paul) was talking about, to gain a full view and understanding of the passage.
Many people enjoy topical Bible studies by using Scripture reading plans on various topics like hope, peace, or our identity in Christ. You can find free Scripture reading plans by going to the free printables section of the blog.
There are so many different Bible study methods that we can use to deepen our faith and understand the beauty and power of our great God! These are just a few of the many different Bible study methods that are around. Try out some of these Bible study techniques and systems, and see which one you like best.
When we use various Bible study methods (rather than just reading the Bible without a specific plan in mind), we will get much more out of our Bible study, and will gain a greater love and appreciation for the Word of God!
Free Bible Study Printables
Feel free to download the following Bible study printables that you can print as you study God’s Word. The first set includes a printable version of Psalm 23 that you can study using any of the Bible study methods mentioned in this post. Just click on the links below to download!
Don’t forget to check out some of the free Bible journaling stickers here that you can use to creatively study God’s Word! In that post there is also a set of free Bible journaling stickers that match these Bible study pages.
You can also download a floral version of these Bible study printables!
You can also download this printable on the SOAP Bible study method by clicking on the link below!
Join the Prayer Challenge!
Looking for ways to deepen your prayer life? Join the BOLD Prayers of Jesus Challenge! This 5-day email challenge dives deeper into five powerful prayers Jesus prayed while on earth.
In this FREE prayer challenge you will also receive a prayer journal, prayer guide, Scripture cards, prayer prompts, journaling stickers, and more!