One area I think that the church often struggles in is teaching new Christians how to study and be fed from God’s Word. To often we present devotions as just something you need to be doing rather than teaching and helping people to do. This leads to the new Christian being frustrated and basically giving up on bible study. So here are some basic and practical tips to help you if your feeling frustrated and like your not getting a lot out of devotions.
1. Start With Prayer
Seems way to simple right? The Psalmist prayed in Ps 119:18 – “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” The greatest teacher of Scripture is the Holy Spirit of God so it only makes sense that if we are going to study God’s Word that we would start by asking for His help.
2. Look to be fed
Be aggressively looking to be fed from God’s word. If you go into bible study with the “well I’m just doing this because I have to so I’m going to do it as quickly as possible” mindset then no you probably aren’t going to get anything out of it. Go in looking to be fed and asking God to feed you from His Word.
3. Study Systematically
Don’t just randomly open your bible and start reading. Develop a plan. I think the best method is to study a book of the Bible and go through a passage or a chapter every day. As you do this each day will build on the previous and you will also begin to understand the context and purpose of the book better.
4. Understand the History of the Book and Why it was Written
Most good study bibles have a page or two at the beginning of every book that explains the history of the book, why it was written, who it was written to and by, etc. The more you understand about why the book was written and what was going on when the book was written the more the book and the truths in it will come alive to you. Understanding the challenges Paul was facing from false teachers when he wrote 2 Corinthians helps you to have a much better understanding of why he spends so much time in the book defending his credentials.
5. Study verse by verse
I have a rule in my bible study, I don’t go to the next verse until I understand the one I am currently on. This doesn’t mean I have “mastered” the verse and know every possible thing about it but if I don’t understand what the verse is saying I keep digging until I think I have figured it out. Studying verse by verse helps you to understand the context and flow of the passage.
6. Take Notes
Keep a journal and write down what you learn from each verse. First off doing this helps you fully think through the verse and what you have learned from it because you have to summarize it in a few sentences in your journal. It also helps to cement the truths in your mind and gives you a great resource to go back to later if you have questions about that passage or need something to teach or preach.
7. Share with someone else
I have to give full credit of this one to my wife, she started emailing her devotions every day to a few close friends (me included). We have found this to have a few great benefits, first of course is accountability. If you know that your friends are going to realize that you skipped your devotions today because they never received an email from you it gives you that extra little push on days when you want to slack off. Secondly you get to see how God is working in the hearts of your friends through His Word. Often times you may not only be encouraged through your own bible study but through the truths your friends got out of God’s Word that day.
God did not intend our study of His Word to be a boring chore, He desires that all of us have a love and hunger for His Words.