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:
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.
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.
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:
- Knowing God
- Renewal of the Mind
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:
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.
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.
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: