It’s still early in January, so many Christians are working hard on their Bible-related goals for 2018. Some may even be participating in our 90-day Bible reading giveaway.
Some others may have recommitted to studying the Bible this year. If this describes you, you’ve come to the right place! This blog exists to help ordinary people learn how to study the Bible.
But there is a Bible study tool that many people neglect. This device is both accessible and inexpensive. It is a key ingredient in your spiritual growth. This secret weapon for studying the Bible is …
A simple pen.
The Difference Between Reading and Studying the Bible
The contrasts between reading and studying the Bible might be obvious. They typically take place at different speeds and with different levels of attention. We can summarize these distinctions as differences in engagement.
When we study the Bible, we must engage deeply with the text.
Instead of continuous reading, one verse to the next, we pause. We re-read. We live in the words of the Bible, walking among the divine sentences like massive trees in a forest. We consider their meaning, their order, their connections. We ponder the author’s main point and prayerfully consider what it means for us.
So, how does this participation happen physically? What should we do with our bodies to help our hearts and minds engage with the Bible?
The best way I know to engage with the Scriptures is through writing. Writing triggers our thinking in surprising and powerful ways. You might do this on a phone or computer, but I’ve found that using pen on paper is the most effective way to push my nose into God’s word.
There are many ways to use this secret weapon to your advantage, but here are three to get you started.
- Take notes — Grab a Bible, a pen, and some paper. It doesn’t get any easier. Write out your observations, your questions, and your conclusions; think and process what you’re reading on the paper. (If you’re new to Bible study, take a look at some of the steps we recommend.) There’s no need to be picky or fussy—any pen or pencil with any notebook, journal, or loose paper will work. We also offer free printable worksheets if you prefer a more structured writing environment.
- Use a markup Bible — Instead of keeping your notes separate from your Bible, make your notes in your Bible. Consider dedicating one Bible as your markup Bible, your space for thinking, underlining, highlighting, connecting, and recording your thoughts on the Biblical text.
- Copy the text — Writing out the words of the Bible is a powerful, tangible way to meditate on the Scriptures. Grab a notebook or a blank piece of paper and slowly copy the passage you’re studying. This is a great way to start observing the text, and it can help with memorization too.
Engage With God’s Word
There’s nothing special about a pen, of course. But we grow in our relationship with God as we engage with the words of God. And using a pen—writing in any form, really—can help us immerse ourselves in the Bible.
And that is a great goal for 2018.