As in cake-baking, 5K-running, baby-birthing, and home-building, so in Bible-studying – preparation is indispensable. Study methods abound, but using any of them effectively requires preparation. Instead of hunting for ”the best” procedure, let the following thoughts guide your preparation for studying the Bible and remember it through the acronym, B.E.S.T:
B-Before, E-Expect, S-Seek, Search, Savor and T-Take Time.
Taking a closer look at each:
B – BEFORE
Before studying the Bible, answer the following the questions. Each answer has direct impact on the outcomes of your study.
– Why study? Studying the Bible involves nothing less than reading the Bible, but it requires more effort and commitment than reading alone. If you know why you are doing something, you are more likely to persist in that activity when obstacles come, when you encounter opposition, when the task becomes difficult, and when you just don’t feel like doing it.
– Which Bible? You will need some study tools (e.g., maps and timelines) along the way, but first, decide what will be your primary study tool-the translation and format of the Bible around which your study will center.
– To whom will you be accountable? Or, with whom will you study? Personal or individual study may be an important aspect of your Bible-studying efforts, but even the most independently competent Bible student is both dependent on and responsible to the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ.
E – EXPECT
The Bible is a book unlike every other (Hebrews 4:12-13). It is not designed to function as a textbook or a novel, for example. Whenever you read, but especially when you study the Bible . . – Expect its primary Author to speak to you, to reveal something about Himself. The Holy Spirit uses His Word to bring people into right relationship with the Father and to nurture those who belong to ”God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19).
– Expect not only to learn ”about . . .” or to learn ”that . . .” or even to learn ”how . . .”-that is, to add to your mental knowledge bank or skill set-but also ”to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
– Expect the living Author of the Bible to convict of sin (John 16:8), to transform and renew your mind (Romans 12:2), and to call you to obey Him (John 15:10).
S – SEEK, SEARCH, SAVOR
The active, passionate pursuit of knowing, fellowshipping with, and obeying the Lord is the opposite of the passive, apathetic response of some who ”sit [in the pew], soak [in God’s Word], and sour [do nothing to apply it].” Prepare your heart to . . .
– Seek the Lord Himself, to meet with Him in His Word and be taught by Him (Isaiah 55:6).
– Search for and confess any sinful attitudes, motivations, or areas of disobedience. These can make your study of God’s Word ineffective.
– Savor God’s Word. To ”savor” or thoroughly enjoy the taste of something delicious is to hold it in your mouth for a while instead of simply chewing and swallowing (Psalm 119:103). Memorizing at least a portion of what you are studying will facilitate meditating on it-thinking about it outside of your study time.
T – TAKE TIME
Studying the Bible takes time. Spending some time in preparation for Bible study can maximize and protect the time you will be setting aside for study. As a disciple-a learner or student-preparing to meet with Christ your Teacher in the school of His Word, recall John the Baptist’s cry: ”Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him” (Matthew 3:3).