You know that feeling when you can’t speak the language? Bible study can often create the same frustrations. It can feel a lot like learning french, or a foreign language! Thank you Sarah Hahn for tackling this one today!
United By Love
How to Study the Bible Follow up
By Sarah Hahn
I am newer to studying the Word, but the hunger to know the Bible came a few years ago as I found myself wrestling with questions I had no way of answering and my husband entered into a pastoral job I never anticipated. I once believed there were two kinds of Christians: those who read the Bible and those who don’t. I believed this mainly from the standpoint of a believer who constantly struggled to get into the Word, much less understand it. I stood in wonder at the christians who could name-drop authors and spout scripture at the drop of the hat. As a pastor’s wife, I found myself useless in conversations with people who used words like “exegesis” and deeply discussed theology and stories that I definitely wasn’t taught during my time in Sunday school. After a series of attempts (and failures) on my own, I came to truly believe that I would never know the Bible intimately.
There was a period where living without being rooted in the word gave me confidence. I loved to listen to inspiring sermons or read books that told me how deeply and unconditionally I was loved. During a conversation on a drive to Las Vegas with my atheist brother, I had an awakening slap-in-the-face that he knew more about my beloved King than I did. It was then I started my journey away from the naivety and ignorance that I could have deep communion with someone I knew only on the surface.
The more I learn, the less I know, but there is a surprising comfort in that. He is deeper and wider than anything I could have guessed or imagined, and it is truly my honor to dedicate my life to knowing Him in any and every facet of His complex nature. The Bible is a gift and a weapon and a comfort through every high and low this life offers. Now that you know the heart-change that lead me to live deeply rooted in the Bible, I will now share any tips I can to benefit your own pursuit.
- Divine Appointment: Reading the Word and knowing it requires commitment. The same way you make relationships with your loved ones a priority, your relationship with the Bible requires sacrifice on your part. For me this means committing to getting up in the morning before my kids are awake so that I can focus on reading and praying. I am a mom to toddlers so sleep is precious, but the Word has become far more precious. I am dedicated to our relationship to know each other better.
- Prayer: Before opening the book I start with prayer. Sometimes it’s just as simple as thanking God for the new day of life and asking that He would give me the wisdom to understand what I am reading. I like to pray after too.
- Look For Jesus: The more familiar you become with the Bible, you will see how everything is about Jesus, whether it is pointing forward in hope or looking back in marvel, He is beautifully woven into everything. As I read, I am always on the lookout for things that reveal Jesus.
- Write It Out: When I was in theater one of the best ways to memorize your lines was to write them out in your own handwriting. This helps cement things in your head. I always have a notebook while reading. After a couple of lines I rewrite what I have just read, but in my own words. This helps me retain the information that I just read and shows me what I am actually understanding. This can help with finding areas you strongly question or don’t understand which leads you into deeper, sometimes external study.
- Read Scripture: One of my favorite apps ever is the Read Scripture app. The guys at The Bible Project teamed up with Crazy Love ministries and created the greatest app for Bible readers, especially ones like me who need help understanding the Old Testament. Unlike all the other “read the Bible in a year” plans that I’ve tried, this one breaks the Bible down into themes, rather than just individual books. So you read it as a journey rather than a series of books which you have no real context. They also pair each book and transitional chapters with book summaries and concept videos so you aren’t puzzled by a culture we obviously don’t live in. I HIGHLY recommend it.
- Podcast Your Heart Out: Speaking of The Bible Project; a lot of people are aware of their short videos on YouTube, but did you know that they have a podcast as well? It goes into more depth and Tim Mackie is an amazing resource for broadening your understanding. There are a lot of other podcasts that teach on the Bible, and online teachings of each section of the Bible by Steve Gregg called The Narrow Path. I listen to these on longer drives, while I get ready in the morning, while doing dishes etc. There is always time to learn about the Bible as long as you want it enough.
- Ask A Pastor: I know that I have it a bit easier seeing as I have full-time access to a pastor and the close friendship of others, but I recommend going to one and asking them for any books they recommend for people looking to go deeper in the Word. First reason is that they all have a billion books. Second reason is that they get asked that question more than you know and they have had to study countless years to get where they are. Use the knowledge and resources of those around you!
I hope these tips will be pivotal to your growth and understanding of the Bible and that you never stop!