January is one of the biggest months for starting a new Bible study. Many people who have never regularly read the scriptures start out the year with the desire to learn more about God’s Word.
Like any new habit or practice, there are some key things to consider that will help set us up for success. The enemy doesn’t want us to study the Bible, so it is important to recognize that he will try to distract and discourage any way he can.
To help combat that, we are going to look at 10 tips that can help your new Bible study habit to become a lasting one.
1. Preparing Physically
The first thing you obviously need to engage in regular Bible study is a Bible. While there are many translations to choose from, it’s important to choose one that you can understand. Trying to stick to a Bible reading plan is really difficult if you can’t understand what it is saying.
Pick one that has language that feels comfortable to you. The NIV and the NLT are great choices for beginner Bible readers. Additionally, you may want to have some extra resources like a journal and some highlighters.
While these are totally optional, you may find that you want to remember what you are learning as you read. Having these resources ready can be really helpful.
2. Preparing Emotionally
As you read, there may be things that God brings to the surface that He wants to heal or deal with in you. Allow those things to come up. Sometimes, those emotions may feel difficult to process, especially if they are negative.
But the reality is, none of us have it all together. That’s why we need Jesus. It’s important to allow God to deal with the things we have hidden in our hearts because that is how we heal.
Preparing our hearts ahead of time to allow the Lord to work in us is a really important part of being successful in our time in God’s Word.
3. Prepare Spiritually
Sometimes, as we are reading, the Lord will start to prompt us to be obedient to something He is revealing in His Word. Perhaps even the call to be silent before Him is difficult for you.
But it is in these moments that the Lord can have the space to speak into our lives. Pray for your heart to be open to what the Lord wants to do in and through His word in your life.
4. Allow for a Fresh Perspective
It’s okay if you are not seeing what you thought you might see in a particular passage. Sometimes, we can be so familiar with a portion of Scripture from previous studies or sermons that we miss out on what God is trying to say to us now, in this season.
Because God’s Word is living and active, He can use a familiar passage to speak to us in a fresh way. It is important to allow the Holy Spirit to have space in our hearts and minds so that He can work. Be open to the idea that perhaps God wants to reveal something new.
5. Use a Real Bible
I realize that this tip may feel difficult, especially if you are used to an audio Bible or a Bible app. While those can be incredibly helpful tools for daily Bible reading, remember that this list is a list of tips for more in-depth Bible study.
It’s not that you can’t use apps for study, but there is something sacred about being in a real Bible.
In a culture where digital media and phone addiction have taken over our lives, setting aside the distractions of the phone can allow for a deeper connection with God.
Because the enemy wants to keep us from God’s Word, he can and often does use our phones as a distraction.
6. Set Aside a Specific Time
If we aren’t careful, the day can get away from us, and our Bible Study time can be taken up by other things. Setting a specific time, setting an alarm, or even making an appointment in your calendar can be helpful ways to be intentional with your time.
Plan for a time of day that has the best opportunity to work for your schedule and let others in your family know that you have an “appointment with God.”
For many people, it’s helpful to create a playlist of worship music to have ready to use when you study. If listening to music is distracting to you, you can use worship to either prepare your heart before your study or to play after you finish while you pray about what you read.
There is something special that happens in our hearts when we worship, and it can be a powerful tool for God to use to speak to us.
One of the tactics the enemy likes to use in the life of a believer is isolation. We were created for community: community with God and community with each other.
While the best space for this to happen is within a local church body, this can also happen in a local Bible study or Facebook group.
The goal is to connect on a regular basis with people who want to study God’s Word together. Sharing what God is teaching you is a great way to experience fellowship and celebrate God’s goodness.
When you are engaged with each other, learning about God together, it can help us to feel more connected to God and to the body of Christ.
9. Keep Going
Regardless of our best intentions, sometimes life gets in the way. We may start off strong and then miss a couple of days of our study. If that happens, just pick up where you left off and keep going. Don’t allow “falling behind” to keep you from moving forward.
The goal of Bible Study is to understand God’s character and nature as He reveals himself to us in His Word.
If you missed a day speaking with your best friend or spouse, you wouldn’t stop speaking to them all together. The same is true for God; just pick up where you left off.
As you read, expect God’s spirit to be at work in you. When we do that, it allows for Him to move the words from our heads to our hearts. God wants to work in and through you. As you learn more about Him, it is important that we are obedient to what He is calling us to do.
If you are struggling with knowing what that is, ask yourself some questions. What does this reveal to me about God? What can I obey? What can I emulate? What can I take away from my relationships?
As we invite God’s presence into our lives through the reading of His Word, let’s allow space for Him to develop in us a heart that seeks to follow after Him in all areas of our lives.
For more, listen to 10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Bible Study.
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Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Ben White
Rachael Groll is a missionary, podcaster, and the author of She Hears: Learning to Listen to Jesus. You can hear more from her on the daily Bible Study podcast, Hearing Jesus, and read her content at SHEHEARS.ORG