The Bible is big and at first glance it can seem intimidating. I mean, it’s 66 books that were written thousands of years ago by really smart people under the inspiration of God.
So how do we even go about studying it?
In my last post I wrote about why we read the Word of God.
We read the Word of God because it is the revelation of God himself to his people. The Bible is the very words of God and it is the most tangible, intimate way of knowing him on this side of heaven.
Now I want to dive into how we read the Word of God.
I believe that the first step in any Bible study must be prayer. This step humbles us, reminding us of who we are and who God is, and sets the foundation for our time spent in God’s Word.
My husband likes to say that “we must pray ourselves into submission” before studying the Word of God.
Our hearts are not naturally bent towards God. Left to our own devices we will surely wander towards sin. Our thoughts will naturally drift towards self and fear and pride.
Prayer is necessary to humble us and prepare us for our time in the Word.
As you pray…
PRAISE God for who he is – a Father who is good, faithful, sovereign, and worthy. Praise him for his revelation of himself to you through his Word. Declare that the Word of God is true, powerful, and authoritative over your life.
REPENT of sin or unbelief in your life. Humble yourself by confessing your brokenness apart from Christ. Acknowledge your need for God and praise him for the restoration of your relationship with him through the blood of Christ.
ASK for particular needs for yourself or others. Do this humbly, acknowledging that God is in control and that he will do what is best, even if that means not answering your request. Proclaim God’s goodness and sovereignty over your needs.
SURRENDER your desires and your life to Jesus. Lay down your hopes and dreams before the Lord, even the things in your life that are good and glorifying to him. Consider what in your life you are holding tightly onto and open up your hands to the Lord.
This first step of prayer demands time. You can’t rush through prayer. Take the time to openly communicate with the Lord and take the time to humbly listen to him.
Prayer is the necessary reorientation of our minds around Christ.
Prayer is the crux of our communication with God.
Prayer helps us to remember and rehearse what is true.
Prayer lays the necessary foundation for our study of the Word of God.
So now we move on to studying the Word of God.
Where do we start?
The Bible is big, with so many stories and so many books and so many characters…
Which book do we read?
And when we pick one, how do we know who the characters are?
How do we approach it in a way that isn’t overwhelming?
I think it’s helpful to first take a big step back.
There are 66 books in the Bible. And while the books are written at different times, by different authors, and about different things, they tell a metanarrative, which is really just a verbose way of saying that they tell ONE BIG STORY.
So what’s the ONE BIG STORY?
The Bible is the story of a gracious God redeeming a broken people and bringing them into relationship with Himself through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.
From the very beginning in Genesis, when God sets the stage of the ONE BIG STORY by creating a perfect world filled with good creation and good people, all in perfect relationship with him…
to just a few chapters later when man rebells against God, but God graciously promises salvation by a coming Redeemer…
to books and books in the Old Testament that highlight man’s rebelliousness juxtaposed with God’s abundant grace in his promise of future rescue from all pain…
to the long-awaited coming of the Messiah, who begins to un-do all the brokenness, the promised redemption is finally here when Christ makes a way for broken man to be with God…
to the promises in Revelation of a future with no pain, no brokenness, and best of all, perfect intimacy and relationship with God.
The whole Bible tells this story.
All of creation tells this story.
Your life tells this story.
Spending time in prayer and understanding the big story of Scripture sets the groundwork for studying the Bible.
In my next post, I’ll spend some time walking through the actual process of Bible study. I’ll give some step by step guides as well as some resources that are helpful to me in my in-depth study of the Word.
Until then, here are some resources that have been instrumental in helping me as I seek to understand the big picture of the Bible:
- This Journeywomen podcast episode on the big story of the Bible – click here
- The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name – click here – yes it’s a children’s book but I would recommend it to every single adult Christian in my life!
- These free worksheets that I designed to help myself in inductive Bible study (I’ll go more in-depth on how to use them in my next post)
I would absolutely LOVE it if you would share your Bible study tips and tricks in the comments below! Are there resources that are your go-to for Bible study? How do you teach yourself the big story of the Bible? Please share!