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May 2, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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By Danny Saavedra
This article is part of a series of articles on the spiritual disciplines that help us grow spiritually, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, become more like Him, and live in such a way that pleases and draws others to Him!
Today, we’re looking at the second of four essential, time-tested, and foundational practices all centered around the Bible.
Study the Bible
In our first article, we learned the importance of consistently consuming large portions of Scripture with the goal of reading the entire Bible in order to see how God wove all things together to point us to the work of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior and King! We discovered that we gain a new level of appreciation, gratitude, devotion, and a deeper, richer love towards God when we consume the fullness of His Word. And we learned that it’s extremely doable to read through the whole Bible.
Today, we switch gears. Whereas reading the Bible for breadth is all about consuming large portions in order to experience the entirety of God’s revelation to man, studying the Bible for depth is all about chewing on bite-sized morsels. The goal here is to slow down and study in unrushed reflection.
This practice of study is what David described in Psalm 119:15 (NLT) when he said, “I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.” That word for reflect in the Hebrew means “to behold; to consider; to scan; to regard with pleasure, favor, and care.” I particularly love the description “to regard with pleasure, favor, and care.”
There’s a real meticulousness, thoughtfulness, and understanding of the preciousness of what we’re holding in this word reflect. As a dad, the only thing I can think of that even comes close to this idea is the first time I held my firstborn child. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. The doctor placed him in my arms, and I held him with tear-filled, indescribable joy, but also extreme care and an understanding of the fact that something precious was in my arms. I scanned him from top to bottom, looking at each feature—his eyes, his nose, his cute little fingers, and toes. I regarded him with pleasure and favor as the purpose-giving joy and satisfaction of fatherhood set in.
How to Study the Bible
Studying the Bible for depth is when you take a few verses that really speak to you and you dissect them. It’s when you really spend time digging into what those verses are saying, what God is saying to you specifically, and how you can apply it to your everyday life.
What the verses are saying . . . For this, you’ll need to determine what the original message was and for who it was intended for. You might want to consider reading some commentaries so you can dive into the original language and see the full force of each verse; to know the intended implication of each verse or passage in order to make the proper application to your life.
What God is saying to you . . . For this, you’ll need to take some time to reflect on what you just read. What stuck out to you about this verse? What did you feel when you read it? What did God show you? Write it down! Write your findings, your feelings, your questions, and the answers you find as you pray and study.
Personally, when I set aside time for reflection, I’ll reflect on just a few paragraphs. Why? Because they’re usually a well-contained set of thoughts. For breadth, pay attention to verses and chapter numbers. For depth, go from paragraph to paragraph. This will help you consume thoughts more in line with how the original writers intended.
Study Methods to Apply
Now, here’s the awesome thing about this practice: There are already a number of solid methods you can put into practice to help you get the most out of your study time. There’s the popular S.O.A.P. method, which Calvary teaches at the Connect Experience. There’s the W.O.R.D. method, the H.E.A.R. method, and the P.R.A.I.S.E. method my mentor and our online campus pastor, Dan Hickling, created. And that’s just a few. There are likely many others out there you can try.
If you test one method for a few days and find it doesn’t really work for you, try another until you find the one you’re comfortable with. Or maybe you use something different or something you’ve refined and perfected over the years. Whatever works best in helping you to know the Lord on a deeper level and apply His Word in your life . . . run with that!
I recommend you create a rhythm in which you alternate between breadth and depth. For me, it’s one key verse with prayer in the morning, breadth in the afternoon after lunch, and then depth in the evening when everyone in my house is asleep, and I can really dig in and break down the Word and then pray over it.
I try to do this five times per week. But maybe for you it’s alternating day-to-day or month-to-month between breadth and depth, or maybe it’s doing one book of depth and then one book of breadth. There’s no secret formula or one-size-fits-all. Just pray and ask for guidance as you seek to establish your healthy routine of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through His Word.
In the next article of this series, we’ll cover the lost treasure of biblical meditation.
Spiritual Disciplines Overview Read the Bible Meditate on the Bible
Memorize the Bible Reading Plan on Prayer
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.