Fresh Start: How to Get the Most Out of Bible Study
It’s that time of year again – fall. For many of us, this means getting back into a routine after the summer break. For me, fall brings a fresh start to one of my favorite activities – women’s Bible study. I’ve been involved in studying the Word with women from my church for ten years now, and am so excited that it starts back up again this week. Yet, fresh starts also bring the unknown. Will it be a good study? Will I enjoy it? Do I have time for it?
What makes group Bible study exciting and worth it?
What makes group Bible study exciting and worth it? It’s a joy to get to study Scripture together. It's an opportunity to form meaningful relationships with other women who love Jesus like I do. But more than that, it's a place to meet with God! The Creator of the world speaks to you and me personally through written Word. He wants to be with me. This astonishing reality motivates me to read, study and know the Bible.
What about you? Are you engaged in studying the Bible with other believers in some capacity? If not, be encouraged to look for opportunities to do so. Group Bible study is an excellent way to grow in faith, love and obedience to God, and a fantastic place to develop significant relationships.
Have you ever considered how to get the most out of your Bible study (or small group) time?
I eagerly anticipate walking into Bible study this Thursday, with expectation of a great year ahead. But I am also reminded that Bible study, like any other group dynamic, can sometimes be challenging. There are many things that we do not control. Will the group mesh well? Will we stay on track or get distracted? Will my contributions be valued? Sometimes we show up with a lot of anxiety.
There are certainly things out of our control, but there are also many things within our control. Have you ever considered how to get the most out of your Bible study (or small group) time? When it comes to group study of the Word, how well we study together is significantly impacted by what we do outside of that hour or two that we meet together. If we prepare ourselves well ahead of time, our study can go so much deeper!
How Do We Do This?
1. Do Your Homework
Like, literally. Take time to work through the section you will be studying.
- Do Your Study Guide - If your study uses a study guide, this is pretty straightforward, right? Make sure that you schedule time in your week to work through your study guide thoughtfully.
- Or Make Your Own Study Guide - If your study does not utilize a study guide, you will benefit by doing your own study of the passage. Make sure you know what your group plans to study. Then spend time throughout the week reading and studying. Are you unsure how to go about this? Come to the Verity Conference in October to hear speakers, workshops and books that will help you get started. Another great resource is knowableword.com for a basic study method.
Either way, the best thing you can do to ensure you come prepared to discuss the Word is to read it. Read the passage you will be studying. Read it over and over. Read what comes right before it and right after it. Think about it, ask questions of it, wrestle with it. When we work at understanding something, it sticks with us. And this is one of the ways that Scripture changes us to be more like Jesus!
It is so easy for me to feel like I need to use all of my preciously scarce quiet time to get my study done. Let’s not fall into that habit. Rather, let’s make sure that we are spending quality time in prayer also.
- Pray for Ourselves - We need to pray for ourselves. Pray that these words we are studying will come alive for us. We need more than an academic exercise. We are reading and examining God’s very words to us. We should pray that we will understand them, delight in them, be changed by them to grow in faith, love and obedience to Christ.
- Pray for Others - We need to pray for the others in our study group. Pray that they also will be changed, renewed and encouraged by the Word of God. Make note of any prayer requests that are shared with your group, and pray regularly for them.
- Pray the Scriptures - God’s Word is filled with prompts for our prayer time. Take what you are learning in your study of the Bible and pray about it. Look at the written prayers found all over Scripture, and pray the same. We have a great God who teaches us how to communicate with him well!
3. Prepare Your Heart
We will benefit greatly (and so will those around us) if we make a conscious effort to prepare our hearts and minds before we sit down with our Bible study group. We bring with us all of the events of the day and even the week.
Take a moment to check in with yourself before engaging with others by asking:
- What is my state of mind? Am I in a good mood or bad? How will my emotions today color my interactions with others and with Scripture? God knows all about your heart and welcomes you to his Word no matter what.
- Am I ready to be a servant to others today? Think about what you can do to serve the others in your group. Ask the Lord to help you to be sensitive to the needs around you. He loves to help you.
- Am I ready to engage in discussion? If you are naturally quiet person, commit to speaking up. If you are a natural talker, commit to letting others have a chance to speak. This is part of serving others.
- Am I ready to listen and learn? Ask the Lord to help you be excited about and challenged by his Word.
I’m praying for all of us, that we will have a great year of Bible study in our various pursuits. May the Word of God dwell richly in each of our hearts as we draw near to him.
Mary Liebert has a passion for leading people to Jesus through the study of God's Word. She has been involved in teaching, writing, training and facilitating Bible study at Hinson Church in Portland for ten years. She loves seeing women grow to love the Lord more deeply and follow him more closely through in-depth study of Scripture. Mary has been married to Jeff since 2005. She is mom to three young children, Zachary, Eli and Addie, who provide plenty of opportunity for her to teach God's Word and practice what she teaches. She has a B.A. in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University.