Devotionals are an extremely popular form of Bible study. I bet you even have a few on your shelf. Devotionals often give a single verse reference followed by some short, easy-to-digest thoughts by the writer, giving us the chance to fit Scripture reading into the time it takes for us to sip a single cup of coffee. Devotionals cover various time spans, topics, ages, and issues. But from time to time, I suffer from "devotional burnout" and just need something different to help invigorate my Bible reading. You, too?
When we feel burned out on our devotional time, we might need more than just a different devotional book. Here are three other ways to study the Bible. They're easy to implement and will hopefully be just the change-up you need to add energy and excitement into your personal Bible study time.
1. Purchase a Bible with commentary.
For years, one aspect I woefully overlooked in Bible study was the historical background. If there was a custom or festival I didn't understand, I glossed over it. I just thought, What are sackcloth and ashes? (a phrase found in passages like Esther 4:1–3, Isaiah 58:5, and Jonah 3:6). Without understanding what I was reading, I would just continue on.
Then, in college, I took a class on the Old Testament and was embarrassed by all the historical aspects I didn't know about the Bible. I had gone to church my entire life and had never heard many of the topics discussed by my professor. Ouch!
To help me learn the information I was missing, I purchased a Bible with commentary. Now when I read something I don't quite understand, I can look at the commentary and it will give more detailed background information for a better perspective. It's like having a college class on Bible history constantly at your fingertips.
2. Learn to dissect sermons.
It can be easy to passively listen to the sermons we hear in church each week. If we don't actively try to pay attention, our minds tend to start thinking about lunch or what's coming in the week ahead.
One thing that helps me pay attention in church also helps my Bible study time: taking notes. I take notes on my pastor's sermon and then dissect the sermon throughout the week. Here are a few ways to do this:
- If the sermon covers a few verses of a chapter, read the entire chapter for more background and context.
- Look back over the important points the pastor made and see if you can come up with more. Back them up with Scripture.
- If the sermon covered a specific topic, see if you can find more verses on the same topic to deepen your understanding.
Doing this will help solidify the sermons in your mind and help you get more out of them week after week.
3. Study your struggle.
Is there a sin you particularly struggle with? Sometimes it may feel like you are alone in your struggle, but you are not!
When I was a teen, I struggled terribly with lust. One thing that helped me keep my feelings in check was reading the different verses that addressed lust (such as 2 Timothy 2:22 and 1 Corinthians 6:19–20). By studying more about these verses and the consequences of sin/lust as a whole, it helped me understand my struggle better and how to surrender my sin to Jesus.
When you find yourself struggling with a specific sin, look up what the Bible says about it and study it. You can even search "Bible verses about [insert struggle]" for more help. For example, do you struggle with . . .
- Anger? Read James 1:19–20 and Colossians 3:8.
- Lying? Read Proverbs 12:22 and Colossians 3:9.
- Gossip? Read Ephesians 4:29 and James 1:26.
- Bitterness? Read Hebrews 12:15 and Ephesians 4:31.
- Sexual sin? Read 1 Corinthians 6:18–20 and Ephesians 5:3.
By filling yourself with God's Word against your struggle, it can help you combat it more effectively.
Study with Joy!
I hope these suggestions will help you in your endeavors to make daily Bible reading a joyous habit. Is there anything you do besides reading a devotional to spice up your Bible reading? Let us know in the comments below!
Originally published at Lies Young Women Believe
Sarah Garrett is a passionate educator and founder of the Transformed4More Ministries that she runs with her identical twin sister. It is her desire to reach struggling teenagers and tell them about the transformative power and love of God. Her book, "So, You Think You Are Ready to Date?" released in October 2017.