When I first started studying the bible, I wasn't even sure what I was doing. Full disclosure: I STILL don't know what Im doing. Hey- I am just being honest! But one thing that has helped me really dive into the word and get clarity on what I am reading is asking myself a series of questions. This way I can not just be a reader of the word but a doer of the word. (James 1:22)
- Who is God in this story?
God shows up in each story in different form. He is the Lord that heals, the Lord that saves, the Lord who provides, the Lord who is peace and so many more! When reading the passage, ask yourself what characteristic of God is He showing up to be! It may be more than one.
2. Who Am I in this story?
It is so easy to see ourselves as the Esther or the Ruth in the story but sometimes we aren’t. Sometimes we are the Naaman who is too prideful to do the simple thing to get our victory. Remember that story? Naaman had Leprosy and wanted healing but refused to follow the simple instructions from the prophet to get it. Or sometimes we are the pharisees telling other christians how to do it “right”. This isn’t an easy question for us to ask, but this is where our personal growth can really begin. Being honest with ourselves is the first step to renewing our minds. (Romans 12:2)
3. What is the theme?
Ask yourself what is the overarching theme of the story. Is God showing how damaging sin can be? Is He showing his redemptive power or the power of prayer? What is He trying to show Israel? This is essential because it can help you discern what He is trying to show you about you or about the entire body. God always has a point in every story and frankly, multiple! But pick out the one that stands out the most to you.
4. How does this overlap with my story?
This is where the the last two questions really come in handy. For example: Naaman was suffering form leprosy but refused to wash in the Jordan river because He wanted His healing the way He wanted it. (plus the Jordan river wasn’t the cleanest place). He was too prideful to do the simple thing and just follow the prophets instructions to dunk himself seven times. God was trying to show Himself as healer but Naaman was resisting His own healing because of his haughty spirit. For us, we could be missing out on healing because we refuse to apologize or ask for forgiveness. We could already have reconciliation we desire if we would just be the first to speak. Does that make sense? Often times we can take the principles out of the story and apply the lessons in our own lives.
5. What are my instructions?
This is where heavy prayer and discernment comes in. Often times, the passage makes it clear what we need to do for example: repent, forgive, pray etc. But prayer and discernment can always help. Deuteronomy 28 is clear about the blessings obedience can bring us and the curses disobedience yields. Pray over the passage and ask the Lord to confirm for you what the instructions are. For example, if you reading about Naaman and it pricks your heart, your instructions may be so simple: Lay down your pride. If the passage isn’t clear, pray on it and trust the Lord will confirm it in HIS timing.
Lastly, I find it really helpful to pray before and after you read your scripture. Getting your mind and heart right before coming before the Lord helps you get the most out of scripture. God desires to speak to us in His word and renew our minds and transform our hearts. I am so guilty of skimming a passage and then wondering why God didn’t prep me for whatever life threw at me that day…only to reread it after the fact and find out HE TRIED- I just didn't listen. Take your time. Invite the holy spirit in when you're reading and keep your heart open to receive the word, confirmation, instruction, or conviction the Lord lays on your heart.
If this process is something you want to implement in your bible study then I have goooood news. I created a cool printable for you to use while you study! Subscribe to the blog and it'll come right to your inbox. And if you are already subscribed it is in the newsletter!
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. - Joshua 1:8
p.s. I created some freebies for you to help you navigate your bible study! Find them here!