Ask Amy Hale, and she’s simply a woman leaning into the Holy Spirit as she’s studying the Bible. Yet, the insight and principles she shares from her own quiet time end up circulating all over the web. Today, it’s a joy to welcome Amy Hale to share the four simple steps to Bible study she’s found so powerful.
* * *
I have a confession. Even as a believer growing up in church, I didn’t open the Bible for most of my life.
Once a week, I carried it to church so I could follow along with the pastor’s sermon, but that was it! I knew the Bible was an “important book”, but had no clue how necessary it is for the Christian seeking to live a life that points to and honors God.
In 2013, out of His abundant grace, God opened my eyes to the power of Scripture. Using the ministry of She Reads Truth, He led me to establish the life-changing habit of daily Bible reading. This was a major turning point in my life because God became more real to me than ever!
I found that the more I meditated on His Word, the better I knew Him. The better I knew Him, the more I understood who I am because of Him.
As my love and desire for the Word of God increased, so did my passion for sharing all that He was revealing to me through it. I began using social media to show others what I was reading and how God was using it in my life.
I was very surprised to learn that there were a lot of believing women out there who didn’t open their Bibles. I received countless messages asking for help with knowing where to start, how to take notes, and how to apply Scripture to their lives.
I’m still asked almost daily, “Where do I start?” This is a fair question since the Bible is a big book and can be overwhelming.
I have to say, I personally believe there is no one “right” starting point. I tell people to start with Genesis if you want to start at the beginning. Start in one of the gospels if you want to learn about Jesus’ life. Start in Psalms if you want to learn how to pray, praise, and respond rightly to trials.
Since God tells us in His Word that we are to meditate daily on Scripture, we can rest assured that no matter where we start, He will help us. His Spirit will direct, equip, convict, and encourage us.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)
Have you wrestled with some of those questions I’ve been asked?
Let me share four ways I’ve simplified the process of Bible study.
4 Simple Steps for Bible Study
1. Have a plan. There are so many good Bible study plans, you don’t need to waste time wondering what to read. I follow several online ministries that offer opportunities for study throughout the year: She Reads Truth, Women Living Well, Proverbs 31’s First 5 app, Love God Greatly, and the You Version app, to name a few.
My friend Teri Lynne suggests reading Proverbs when you are in between plans and need something to read. For instance, if it’s the 14th of the month, go to Proverbs 14 and read that chapter. So easy!
2. Pray. This is actually THE most important, but often neglected step. We ought to pray before, during and after we read God’s Word. Begin your Bible reading by praying “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). Or simply ask God to help you understand what you’re about to read. As you read, thank Him for His Word and for any conviction of sin He gives. Pause and ask God to forgive you and to help you overcome it. If you have trouble understanding something, ask God to help with that as well. When you finish reading, look back over the passage and RESPOND to it by using the ACTS acronym — Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
What did you read about the character of God that you could praise Him for? Did you sense Him gently bringing to mind a specific sin in your life? Confess it. Thank Him for what He has revealed in your reading. Finally, ask Him to help you apply what you’ve learned.
3. Read through the passage slowly, repetitively and in a few different translations. One thing I do to help slow myself down and pay closer attention is to use a color coding system. I read through once, highlighting transition words (such as but, therefore, and, so that, etc). I read again, highlighting everything it tells me about God in another color. Reading through again, I highlight any commands or examples I should apply to my life, as well as sinful actions I should not follow in different colors. Finally, I highlight any prayers I see OR verses that I believe would be good prayers in its own color.
4. Ask some questions. After I’ve organized all observations from the passage, I’m ready to make some notes. This helps reinforce what I’ve read while moving me toward practical application of the passage. Finally, I ask a few questions of the passage:
- What does this tell me about God?
- How should these truths impact the way I live?
- And what is one practical way I can apply this in my relationships with others as an Image bearer?
Bible study may seem complicated at first, but it doesn’t have to be.
Get a plan. Pray. Read slowly and repetitively so you can identify key information about God and man. Then ask good questions. Prayerfully consider what the text tells you about God and how that should be reflected in your life.
Most importantly, remember that the Bible is first and foremost about God. Don’t try to make it about you. Seek first to learn all you can about HIM, then you’ll find the right motivation to live a life of obedience out of sincere love and gratitude for Him.
* * *
Amy Hale is a wife, mom and “GiGi” who lives in the Memphis, TN area and loves teaching women how to cultivate friendship with God through daily prayer, study of His Word and reflecting Him by living as an image-bearer. She’s a Bible teacher, a conference speaker, an (accidental) Instagram influencer, and most recently launched a Facebook community group for Bible study with her friend Kristin called Abiding Together. Find her there! Most days you’ll find Amy singing in the car with her teenaged son, sharing her Bible study insights on Instagram or secretly spoiling Oliver, her Basset Hound.