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The Bible tells us that if we search after God’s commandments “as for hid treasures” the Lord will give us his wisdom. Here are 4 keys for effective scripture study.
*all verses quoted come from the LDS King James Translation*
Find the Knowledge of God
In Proverbs 2:1-6 it reads:
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
I love the imagery that this verse conjurs up for me. I think back to a movie I loved as a child, The Man From Snowy River.
In this movie a man has a gold mine that he has been working for decades. Everyone keeps telling him to just give it up. It’s even caused a huge rift between him and his brother. He just keeps working though, confident he is going to strike it rich. Towards the end of the movie he finally finds gold.
I often feel like this is how my scripture reading goes. I read and I read and nothing really hits me. It feels like a chore to be done or a task to check off the list.
Meditate and Do
I have committed to make my scripture reading more meaningful by turning it into a study.
Joshua 1:8 tells us:
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
He gives us two key instructions if we want to “have good success”.
First we must meditate there-in day and night. This means we have to really dive deep into understanding and pondering on the words we read.
Second we have to “do according to all that is written”. I don’t know about you, but for me that’s probably the hardest part: integrating the scriptures into my life.
With that in mind I created a method I call The 4 Keys of Scripture Study. You can use my printable (linked at the bottom of the post) or use any pretty notebook you love. You could even take these notes right in the margins of your favorite journaling Bible.
4 KEYS of scripture study
Key 1- KNOW
First we have to understand the scriptures that we read. This is where the bulk of the actual studying comes in. Sometimes I can spend hours on just one verse!
If you only have a few minutes a day that’s ok too. Remember reading the scriptures isn’t a race to completion. Studying the same chapter or verse for several days in a row is perfectly acceptable.
When studying the facts I like to think about the 5 W’s.
Who are the Key people in this reading? Who is speaking? Who are they speaking to?
What is the speaker talking about? What is the context for this verse or chapter? Is it a speech, a letter, a vision? This is also when I research definitions of words I don’t understand, or look up alternate meanings for the original Hebrew or Greek word used. A Bible Concordance is super helpful for word definitions.
When and Where did this writing occur? What were the historical events surrounding this writing? How does the culture of the time affect the speaker and the listeners?
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Why did the speaker share this message? What was their personal motivation?
Now sometimes I won’t be able to find all of this info. I try my best though, and trust that God will fill in the gaps in my understanding.
Key 2- Engage
The dictionary definition of the word engage is “to occupy oneself; become involved”. Engaging means I make the scripture personal.
Journaling is an excellent way to engage with what you read. Some people prefer text only journaling while others love to create artwork that represents their thoughts and feelings. Others kinda fall in the middle with a combo of notes and images. Whatever works for you, just put it on paper!
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During this phase of study I try to be aware of the thoughts and feelings that come to my mind and heart as I read. Even if they initially seem unrelated I jot them down. You never know what the Spirit may need to teach you!
I also ask myself how can I apply this scripture to my life? How can I relate to these characters and their experience? What lessons can I learn?
Key 3- Yield
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
During the yield phase I first jot down some general actions that I can take to enact the scripture I just studied into my life. Then I take my thoughts to the Lord in prayer.
When I pray I ask for three things.
- Confirmation that the actions I wrote down are pleasing to God
- Guidance on any understanding I missed or actions I need to add to my list
- Strength and courage to implement those changes into my life.
Key 4- Step
None of this study and prayer is any good if we don’t actually take action on it! Key four is all about bringing what I’ve learned to life.
After my prayer I will jot down some specific action steps. For example if my note during phase 3 was, “I need to speak towards my children with more kindness,” then my specific action plan in key 4 would be pause before speaking, pray for patience in that moment, keep my voice calm, apologize when I speak unkindly.
Another example: perhaps my note during key 3 says “be a wiser steward of my money.” Key 4 might say create a budget, set a spending cap on impulse buys, only one eating out meal per week, and track all expenses to identify things to cut out.
Now Go and Do
You can easily put the 4 keys method into action in your favorite journal or notebook. If you’d like my adorable printable journal with sections for each key, bookmarks, and a goal tracker you can download it from my resource library.