A few of you have asked about how I study my Bible. I thought I should share with everyone how I do it. I do not believe my way is "right." It is what works for me. If it gives you encouragement or you think it will work for you, try it.
I began reading the Bible by doing studies at church. This was good and fine but I found I was always relying on what someone else thought about the Bible. I remember being totally focused on when Beth Moore was coming out with a new study because I respected her knowledge so much and felt I needed it to study. This was a mistake (and I am sure Beth would agree). Those first few studies got me hooked on reading the Bible and I am forever grateful but most of my spiritual grown has come when I am alone with God.
Our time 1 on 1 with God is more important than anything. He has things to show you and I, as individuals, because He has created unique life circumstances for each of us. What he has for Beth Moore is not what He has for me or for you. We can learn a ton from hearing Beth speak but we must not rely on her, or any other human, for that matter. We must rely on God. And our deep study with Him alone should be of utmost priority.
Where you begin reading is up to you. Personally, I tried to start in the New Testament but ran into so many Old Testament references, I became annoyed flipping back and forth and not understanding what I was reading. I wanted to read it from beginning to end. So I began in Genesis.
There are 17 historical books at the beginning of the Bible (Genesis thru Esther). Then there are 5 poetry books (Job - Song of Solomon). Finally there are 17 prophetical books (Isaiah - Malachi). Some people get a little lost in the history after a while and need a break. If that happens to you, go read one of the poetry books. They are written in a totally different style. Then you can come back and get into history again. The prophetical books are wonderful and diverse. The only thing I can say is, if you get stuck and you are not understanding what you are reading, take a break, go somewhere else and study and come back to the hard to understand parts when you have more study time under your belt. This happened to me with Daniel. The first time I studied it, I was LOST.
1. I start each morning by opening up two Word Documents on my computer. One is for "study notes," the other is for my "prayer journal."
2. Before I begin studying, I pray, asking God to help me understand His Word so that I can apply it to my life.
3. I read ONE CHAPTER all the way through.
4. I go back and re-read the chapter focusing on what pops out at me. I type these things in my "study notes" document each day. I also type questions I have for further study.
5. I then type out a prayer to God about what I've just read.
When I was new to studying, I wanted to read a lot fast. But I soon realized God wants me to understand and use His Word as a manual for my life. There is no prize given for reading the Bible quickly. Slow and steady is much more effective. It gives you time to digest what you read and apply it to your life.
Here is an example:
Study Notes for the first part of Genesis 4 - Cain and Abel (brothers) bring offerings to God. God prefers Abel's offering (without an explanation of why). Cain gets jealous. Cain becomes angry. Cain kills Abel. This story is so relevant to today. Sometimes we are passed over or "not chosen" for things we want or think we deserve. How we deal with disappointment is vital. Jealousy and unrestrained anger lead to death.
Journal Prayer Example from Genesis 4- Lord, I do not understand why you pass some over and choose others. I know someday I will understand. But for now, You've shown me that jealousy is dangerous. Please show me areas in my life where I am envious or jealous and please help me get rid of it. Help me with any anger I have. Forgive me for not showing your love to others. Help me realize the path I am on has been set up by You and I can not compare my life to anyone else. (I would type more personal things in too, naming things I am struggling with. I will spare you those details. lol)
The benefit of keeping a prayer journal is wonderful. I find, looking back over the years, so many of my prayers have been answered and I have grown. This is a great way to have a record.
After my study is complete, I spend my day thinking about what I've read. In the Genesis example, I might be looking for areas where I am angry or jealous and then praying about them as I identify them.
Each day, I start fresh, with a new chapter. Some mornings are full of deep study. Other times I feel like I am limping through. But God is faithful and I have grown so much spiritually from studying. I hope this helps and answers questions. I do not have all of the answers but I would be happy to correspond with any of you about any of this.