Every Christian has at least a vague sense they should be studying the Bible, but actually turning that into a daily habit can be tough. Even if you’ve been a Christian for years, dry spells—those seasons when daily Bible study feels like a chore rather than a blessing—are inevitable.
So how can we make daily Bible study—rich, rewarding, life-changing Bible study—a reality?
Here are five practical tips from pastor and author Kevin DeYoung about how to make Bible study a habit—all taken from the free ebook Study the Word. Get your free download now for these tips and more Bible study wisdom from R.C. Sproul, N.T. Wright, Philip Yancey, and other Christian teachers.
1. Listen to great sermons
Over time, listening to great sermons will teach you how to read your Bible better—which will make Bible study a more rewarding habit.
DeYoung says, “When I’m preaching, I have the opportunity to teach others how to study the Bible for themselves. In my sermons, I often work through a narrative passage of Scripture, asking, ‘Why is this here? Why did the biblical authors choose to write what they wrote? What purpose is it serving in the narrative, in the big picture of God’s redemptive plan?’ This is a way of stepping back and teaching people how they can study the Bible for themselves.”
2. Keep it simple
DeYoung advises those who struggle with regular devotions to keep their Bible study simple. “There is no substitute for just sitting down and reading. The Bible is an ancient book; there are going to be parts that don’t make sense the first time around. Don’t get bogged down trying to understand everything right away. Just keep reading and piecing things together.”
3. Use quality resources
While he advocates reading the Bible on its own merits, DeYoung notes that new readers of the Bible could benefit from resources that give context to the text. “We don’t want people to depend on secondary resources over the primary one, but there’s value in a good study Bible and a beginning commentary series. More than anything, there’s value in reading Scripture with others; [they] help us learn.”
4. Keep your goals manageable and consistent
He suggests keeping reading goals manageable and consistent. “It’s easy for people to get overwhelmed—it’s a big book. But five minutes every day is better than two hours every other week. In high school, I started out reading a chapter every day. I picked the book of Romans first. It was short and manageable, and it laid a good foundation for sticking with it. I often encourage people to start with Mark—the shortest Gospel—which jumps right into the action. The book of Romans lays out the plan of salvation. Genesis is another key text because so much of our theology goes back to the beginning.”
5. Return to the passages you love
For his own life and ministry, DeYoung returns often to a few key Scripture passages. He has a special affinity for 2 Corinthians 4:5: “For what we proclaim is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” He explains, “That verse has been a key one for me because my aim in pastoral ministry is not to put myself forward, but to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and to be a servant for the congregation for the sake of Jesus.”
For more practical Bible study advice, get your free copy of Study the Word: 12 Christian Leaders on Bible Study now.