Disclaimer – This is not a post geared towards bashing devotional books because I personally use and love devotional books and am always on the lookout for a new theological read, but what happens when these books start to replace the Bible?
Christian books and devotionals are often easy to understand which is why a lot of us, myself included, are drawn to them over the Bible. Studying the Bible is hard work but when we consume more and more of Christian lifestyle/devotional books, we start to lose our “taste” for the Word and makes it harder for us to “get into” the Bible because we don’t have an author explaining hard concepts to us.
So, how do you make the switch from depending on a devotional to studying the Bible on your own? Here are a few tips!
1: Pick a passage to study daily
You can make your time in the Word much easier if you choose ahead of time what you are going to study. I like Jenny’s (from the Little Faith blog) monthly Bible plan because it gives you a passage of scripture to read for every day of the month while also giving you the space to study on your own while still feeling supported by a structured outline.
2: Ask Questions!
Devotionals walk us through concepts with questions, stories, and examples. The Bible is full of these as well and come to life when you ask the questions. If you don’t understand something, write it down and find out the answer and as you read the text ask yourself questions like:
- Who wrote this?
- Why did they write this?
- Who are they talking to?
- Who is God in the passage?
- What do I learn about following God in this passage?
- How does this affect my life today?
Asking questions will keep you more engaged and pay attention to the text instead of mindlessly reading (don’t worry, I’m guilty of it too).
I’ve included a FREE PDF that you can download and keep in your Bible so you can easily access the questions above.
3: Don’t be afraid to go slow
Studying the Word isn’t a five-minute deal and then you’re done. Why? Because when you are actively taking notes, asking questions, highlighting, praying, meditating, and thinking about what you read, it will slow you down. This is okay! Actually, this is very good! Studying God’s love letter to us is not a race. Take your time and soak in what you are learning.
4: Context is everything!
When studying the Bible, you want to get a better idea of what’s there and a huge part of Bible study is reading verses and passages within the context of where they are placed in the Bible.
It’s easy to pick out singular verses and apply them how we want them or think they should apply to our life, but if we don’t look at the whole of the chapter in which the verse is found, we lose context.
Use this time to study well-known verses that you are familiar with and try reading them within the context of the passage or book you are reading, what did you find?
5: Utilize all the great resources around you
There are countless free and easy-to-access resources that make it easier to study independently than with a devotional book.
Here are my favorites:
Enjoy taking this time to deepen your relationship with your Heavenly Father and to learn more about Him and what He has to say to you.
How do you study the Bible? Do you have any particular tips or routines you enjoy? If so, go ahead and share them in the comments below. I would love to learn from you. =)
“…but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.”