Why develop a plan for personal Bible study?
Perhaps one of the biggest struggles that you will ever face in your walk with Christ is the development of a regular time of getting into God's Word. Begin to ask God to help you to see the long range benefits of reading, studying and applying His Word to your life. Plead with him to help you develop a hunger and thirst for the righteousness that comes from knowing Him better. Spend some time this week in passages that will whet your appetite for the sufficient Word of God--such as Psalm 19 or Psalm 119.
To help you structure a plan of action, read over the following material on how to develop a plan for personal Bible study. Prayerfully begin to develop a reasonable plan for yourself. Be careful not to aim too high--like reading the Bible through in a month or spending an hour a day in Bible study when you have never had any regular time before. God is not interested in perfection--but in the progressive development of godly patterns. It is better to set modest goals and gradually increase them as you succeed in them than to set too high of a goal-only to give up in frustration! If you have never had regular time before, start with 10 minutes per day and begin to discover the blessing and help that comes from studying and applying God's Word.
How to develop a plan for personal Bible study
1. Develop a reading/study schedule that fits your needs.
a. Many people are defeated at this point because they don't know where to begin. So they try to read the Bible through in a year, but wind up getting bogged down in Leviticus or Numbers—often times quitting in frustration before they have even had a chance to taste and experience the joy of changing. b. Others might rely on a devotional guide that briefly covers passages that are randomly selected by the author. This can be very helpful, but it may not always zero in on the needs of your life or family. c. I would suggest trying to get started by evaluating your current needs (i.e. problems you are currently facing) and then selecting a book or passage that might help you to begin addressing those needs. You absolutely cannot go wrong with studying the New Testament epistles (especially books like Ephesians, Colossians and James which are loaded with practical Christian instruction). The reason for this is that the Holy Spirit put them in the Bible to teach you basic doctrines and how to apply them to daily life. You might find it helpful to look at An Overview of the Bible and use that information to help you select a book or even a section of a book to begin reading or studying for a period of time.
Suggestion: If you are not sure where to begin, try studying from a passage that you are already covering at church (such as the Sunday Sermon or your Sunday School lesson). The advantage of this is that you already have a jump on the passage with some help from the pastor or teacher on how to understand it.
2. Decide when and where you are going to study.
a. Time: Again the Bible is not dogmatic here, although there are many examples, like David and Jesus, who began the day with study and prayer. What God is ultimately after is your wholehearted obedience. If you study early--but you are so wiped out that you cannot even remember what you read--then maybe lunchtime would be better for you. You know yourself. Try to pick the time where you can benefit the most from your time in the Word. b. Place: Where you can concentrate the best with the least amount of interruption.
3. Use a format that will help you to break down the section into a digestible amount for study and application. The key to application is meditation (Psalm 1:2; James 1:25). Meditation is simply planning ahead to put truth into practice!
Personal Bible study suggested format:
1. What has God spoken to me about today through the reading of this section?
Concerning my life?
2. What am I going to do about it (Ephesians 4:22-24)?
Ungodly habit of thinking or behavior to "put off"
Godly habit of thinking or behavior to "put on"
3. When do I plan to do it? (Psalm 1:1-3; James 1:23-25)
If______happens, then I plan (with God's help) to
Evening check up: Did I follow my plan?_____If so, thank the Lord! If not, consider what happened, seek God's forgiveness (if necessary--James 4:17), determine what you need to do differently, asking God for wisdom to please Him (James 1:5).
4. What verse am I going to take with me today?______(Look for opportunities to share this verse with someone today)
5. What can I pray back to God from this section (as a worshipful expression of praise and/or resolve)?______________________________