Approaching Bible Study
A Bible study program can be done parallel to a Bible reading program and they need not relate to one another. Bible reading is a way of getting an overview of the Bible while Bible study requires a much more focused time.
Inductive Bible Study
There are a number of approaches to Bible Study and each of them have their place and I would encourage all of them. However, the one that I want to excite you about is called Inductive Bible study.
Inductive Bible study stands apart from the other approaches in that you don't come to the text with any pre-conceived ideas or outside opinion. And, in the end it can leave you fully convinced of what any book of the Bible is really about, rather than being influenced by your previous views or those of anyone else.
This will give you a greater confidence and authority on what was said, how it was understood and how you can apply and speak about the truths found.
Choosing a Book to Study
There are no rules here and perhaps you would like to study one of the books that you have read and enjoyed and want to know more about. Alternatively, the book of Philemon is a nice easy one to begin with and for getting used to the Inductive Bible study method. (If you have studied this book before, or any book, don't give up on the opportunity of studying it inductively).
It's my primary objective to be giving you the tools for inductive Bible study more than it is my aim to teach you a book. These tools will be a huge benefit to you for all your further Bible study and I am sure that they will show themselves invaluable even for countless studies of the same book.
(Note: We often struggle looking for a particular book in the Bible when we can find any book of the Bible by simply looking in the Contents section in the front of our Bibles for the page number).
Steps to Inductive Bible Study
Step 1: Pray
Before you begin, ask God to give you an uncluttered mind and to help you to lay aside any pre-conceived ideas of the text. Also, remember to keep in touch throughout your study with the Author of the book, asking Him to help you to study diligently and not to miss what you need to see.
Step 2: Read
Read the book through in one sitting from beginning to end and out loud so that you take it in with your eyes and ears
Step 3: Observe
This is where you need to take a more methodical approach to what you have read. Without determining any meaning, become like an investigator on a crime scene and initially find out all that you can before deciding on anything.
For example you might note the use of unusual words or phrases. You might note the use of a figure of speech, etc. For a list of things to look for see the page, Bible Study Helps.
Repeated reading of the text will show up more and more. And, it is important to take note of and even research if necessary the historical background to the book as this will help when considering the context and the meaning of words, phrases, topics, etc.