What are Your Study Habits?

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When I was a green seventeen-year old beginning my first year of college, I went through an orientation week affectionately called “WOW week” (aka Week of Welcome). In one of our mandatory sessions, the Dean of the College of Sciences asked us the following:

How many hours did you study in high school?

Do you know how to take notes?

Do you know the importance of rest?

Having graduated second in my high school class, I had little concern about my study habits because I knew they were sound. I am not a genius so I had to spend hours (about 30 hours/week) studying, taking detailed notes, recopying my notes as a study method, and prioritizing my projects. I continued these habits in college and managed to graduate cum laude. Persistence really does pay off.

A few years after college, this question was posed to me:

“Do we devote as much time to studying the Bible as we did studying for our chosen professions?”

Wow… what a convicting question…

Why do we pursue the study of our careers with fervor and yet give the study of God our leftover time? What does that indicate about our priorities?

You may rightly say, “Well, that was my “job” at the time, so of course I spent more time doing it.” We are going to spend most of our waking hours working, but are we carving out a space in our day to study during the off-hours?

Are we making time for God?

Are we working to develop good study habits?

If you, like me, have often neglected Bible study, maybe it’s time to reverse that trend and establish some good habits. The following three habits are easy to remember:

#1: Prioritize.

So often we put the urgent ahead of the important. Life is urgent, but the Bible is important.

Carve out at least two times in each day you can read your Bible. I recommend two because one will inevitably be thrown off. Life is rarely predictable. Schedules change. Accidents happen. The alarm doesn’t ring. Dogs destroy furniture. Kids color on the wood floors in permanent marker… (not that it has ever happened to me…)

The Bible is a vital piece of your spiritual armor. When Paul encourages the Ephesians to stand against Satan, he doesn’t advise them to wear the portions of armor that are the lightest, easiest, or most preferable; he says to wear it all:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

~ Ephesians 6.11, ESV (for the section, click here)

In this passage, the Word of God is equated to a sword. Can you imagine going into battle without an adequate weapon with which to ward off attackers?

Failure to study daily is failure to bring your weapon into the battle.

I assure you, Satan has a full arsenal. Make time to arm yourself completely. Failure to prepare leads to spiritual fatality.

#2: Pray.

Pre-study prayer may seem a bit frivolous, but it’s good for the mind. As we pray, we center our heart on God and our study aims.

These are my top three goals for Bible study:

  1. Knowing God
  2. Renewal of the Mind
  3. Transformation

In the more challenging segments of the Bible, it’s easy to lose focus on why we are studying. Copy the following verse and use it as a bookmark. Place it inside of the passage you’ll be reading the next day:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

~ Romans 12.1-2, ESV

Your pre-study prayer need not be lengthy:

Dear Lord,

Thank you for preserving the scriptures for us so we may know You and Your will for our lives. As I prepare to read Your word, open my mind to Your wisdom. May what I read today guide me into a closer relationship with You, renew my mind, and transform me into the image of Christ.

In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.

Persist.

Circumstance will inevitably interfere in your study. If I were a gambler, I would lay odds on it.

So you missed a day…

So you’re having trouble with focus…

So today’s reading went over your head…

Find another time. Switch up your plan. Change books if you have to. Grab a trusted teacher or reference a reliable commentary. Don’t give up!

Here we are near the end of April. Have you fallen out of your New Year’s goal of daily Bible reading? Are you behind on your plan? Pick up where you left off. Switch plans. Change your approach. There’s no time like the present to chart a fresh course.

Prioritize.

Pray.

Persist!

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

~ Galatians 6:9, NASB


Here are some older articles to help you in your efforts:

Why I ditched my Bible Reading Plan

Why Study the Bible

How do I Read Through Leviticus?

Setting Goals That Last

Peeking Inside My Toolbox

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17 thoughts on “What are Your Study Habits?

  1. Ida April 26, 2017 / 09:06

    So when I was in high school, I told my mother that when I was done with college I’d have more time to study, teach people the gospel, help others, etc.
    I’ll never forget what my mom said, “Honey, make sure you don’t use that as an excuse. If you don’t have time now or when you’re in college, when will you have the time? You need to make that time now, so you’ll be in the practice of fitting it in your schedule later.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Elihu April 26, 2017 / 12:30

      Your mother was such a wise woman. She, of course, was spot on with this advice. We have to make time in the present, especially as we don’t know what the future will bring. As I go through each season of life, I’ve noticed that time never seems to grow in abundance. Thanks for your great comment. We miss you!

      Like

      • dawnlizjones April 28, 2017 / 16:54

        WHEEE!!!! LIFE!! Need I say more? You’re on my prayer list!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Elihu April 28, 2017 / 20:54

        Yeah, life is wild. Thank you for your prayers! They are very much appreciated. 😊

        Like

  2. beckielindsey April 26, 2017 / 17:44

    Elihu, I like you 3 P approach. I especially like in “persist” where you say, “so you missed a day.” We give up too easy! If you miss a day, start again the next. We must be persistent in order to grow.

    I write about God’s word because it’s wonderful and He’s called me too, but another reason is it keeps me in the word. I must research, study, pray, and check my heart with each devotion, blog post, article, or story I write.

    Thanks for another practical post,
    Beckie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elihu April 27, 2017 / 04:24

      Thanks, Beckie!

      When I was younger, I was reading through a Bible-in-Year that had the dates over each section. I’d fall behind by a day or more and get so discouraged because there was no way I could read it all to catch up. My new trick for anyone reading one of those is to just start in the new date and move forward. Whatever you do don’t stop!

      I too enjoy blogging for those same reasons. 😊 It really does help with meditation. In fact, it’s the primary reason I still blog.

      I hope you are doing well, my friend. God be with you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • beckielindsey April 27, 2017 / 08:02

        I am doing well. Thanks. Keep on learning and growing and blogging. You are making a difference in your corner of the world (cyberspace too!)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lee Poskey May 27, 2017 / 12:01

    Good mornin Elihu. 😃👍

    I love reading my bible nearly every day. Usually my mornings are when I do the most intense reading, but I’ll get into scripture throughout the day too as I interact with other bloggers.
    But I don’t see it as a discipline as some people refer to it as, I love reading the word. It’s fun.

    But you know what’s funny? It seems that every day something always comes to mind that needs fiddling with before I dig into reading. Usually it’s tying up loose ends on something else. But eventually I dig in.

    I don’t use any commentaries any longer though. I destroyed all of em I own some time ago. They all promoted some systematic theology, and tainted my ability to learn from God.

    So that’s my two cents.

    And good mornin to you buddy!😃

    Like

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