Most of us desire to study the Bible, but sometimes we get into a rut. Bible study can become more of a chore than an exciting time of learning and growing in your understanding of God’s Word and in your relationship with Jesus.
Author, Bible study teacher, and radio host Nancy Leigh DeMoss shares four tips for keeping Bible study fresh and exciting—adapted from the free guide Study the Word: 12 Christian Leaders on Bible Study.
This excerpt has been edited for readability.
1. Change up old study habits.
When it comes to her Bible study routine, DeMoss tries to avoid getting into a rut. . . . For her, variety involves “going from macro to micro.” She alters her habits periodically, moving from an overview of Scripture to narrowing in on shorter passages. Some years, she reads through the Bible two or more times. But at times she will slow down the pace and meditate on a single book or passage for weeks or even months—something she often does before teaching others.
“I use a lot of different resources and tools for my study, but I would say that none is more important than personal meditation. If you had no other study tools, and you only meditated on God’s Word, you could teach it. I just taught a series on Psalm 119 after spending weeks soaking it in personally. When people say to me, ‘I wish I could get out of the Word what you do,’ I say, ‘You can! It just takes some time and effort.’”
She encourages her audiences to change up their own devotional time, whether that involves memorization, meditation, or other practices. Recently, DeMoss took time to write out the book of Psalms by hand; the exercise helped her notice aspects of the text that she might otherwise have glossed over.
2. Study the Bible daily.
For some, studying the Bible can become part of a mindless ritual. DeMoss suggests the alternative of cultivating a relationship with God through his Word: “Any daily routine can get old, but I have found that it is a lot easier to breathe new life into an existing habit than to start a habit you do not have. . . . No matter how much or how little you read, get into God’s Word every day. I really believe the benefits and results of biblical intake—like healthy eating—are not so much what you get from it that day but how you grow in the long term. . . . Bible study doesn’t always have to look the same, but you need consistency.”
3. Rely on the Holy Spirit for understanding and application.
“I really believe in the need for the illumination of the Spirit. Otherwise, you can only understand [the Bible] on an intellectual level. In my reading, I rely heavily on the Spirit to give me understanding and to personalize and apply the Word to my life. I often pray before opening God’s Word: ‘Lord, teach me, show me your ways, and wash me with your Word.’ I consciously ask him to make it real to me.”
4. Read and apply each biblical book based on its genre.
DeMoss has encountered many women who have started a Bible reading plan, but then became discouraged and stopped reading when they came to Leviticus or Numbers. While DeMoss says she “values reading it in order, to get the whole counsel of God,” she also asks, “How will we look at the Lord and say ‘I never read the whole thing?’”
For this reason, DeMoss emphasizes the systematic and expository teaching of the Word. She tries to show her audiences how to understand each biblical book based on its genre: “I feel like it is important to teach people how to read and apply the various genres, so they read them in the context of the rest of Scripture.” She believes there has been a recent movement away from this approach, with messages placing more emphasis on dealing with “felt needs” or being relevant to mainstream culture. “I think we underestimate the power of the Word itself.
Read more encouraging testimonies from influential Christian leaders like Chuck Swindoll, Kay Arthur, and Max Lucado in Study the Word: 12 Christian Leaders on Bible Study.