I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person, so when life disrupts my regularly scheduled Bible study routines, I often flounder. When I’m overwhelmed or just unorganized, I tend to read my Bible to check it off my list, just getting it done instead of really meeting with God. For years I’ve been ashamed of this part of myself—desperate to be the right kind of Christian who does things the right kind of way. Only in the past few years have I come to recognize that it’s okay for how I engage with God’s Word to change for seasons or even just for a day. It’s not about following a perfect formula but faithfully pursuing a relationship with my Savior.
As I’ve accepted my inherent weakness in this area, I’ve learned that it’s okay to use tools that help me keep close to God through his Word in any season. Like right at this moment, when summer is sliding to a close and fall schedules are roaring to life, I know that I’m going to need the help of a guided Bible study to stay focused and consistent. So every fall, I commit to doing one of the Bible studies offered at my local church or gathering with a small group of friends in person or even through the wonders of the internet. Even if my schedule is particularly hectic, and I can’t do the Bible study in community, I’ve found that a guided study helps me to continue to fully engage during a time when I am tempted to just glide through God’s Word.
God doesn’t care if you’re using tools to help you understand his Word. Of course, learning the skills to dig into God’s Word on your own is valuable and will often lead you to an even deeper appreciation of God’s truth, but it is not wrong to need help. We all learn and grow at different paces and in unique ways depending on our circumstances and inherent strengths and weaknesses. So if you do find yourself in a season when learning and loving God’s Word happens best through a guided study, don’t lose heart. God wants you to hear his truth and draw near to him.
So you can choose a guided Bible study, but choose it with wisdom. Here are four questions to consider as you discern which Bible study to use:
- Is it Bible-centered? Look for a study that helps you engage with the passage before it begins to teach you about it. A Bible study should help you interpret the text by using cross-references, not opinions. The questions need to help you consider what the passage says and then what it means.
- Is it God-centered? A study should first uncover what the Bible passage reveals about God before asking how it can be applied to your life. It should present a high view of God, displaying how he is worthy of your worship and your obedience.
- Does it lead to conviction? A purely academic approach misses the most essential part of studying God’s Word—-developing intimacy with your Savior. If the time you spend studying the Bible doesn’t lead to conviction and transformation, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to behold wondrous things in the Word. If that doesn’t help, consider if there’s a different Bible study that is better at leading your heart to behold God’s glory and develop a longing to become more like your Savior.
- Does it foster community? We weren’t meant to study God’s Word on our own. Fellowship is essential for gaining a deeper understanding of the meaning of the text and making valuable application to your specific circumstances. If you don’t have anyone to study God’s Word with, be brave and ask a friend. You don’t have to know everything or have it all together to facilitate a small group of women engaging with God’s Word.
All these concerns can be summarized in one simple question: Does this Bible study help me know and love God and his Word? That’s our goal—not to do Bible study perfectly or to mindlessly read so we can check it off our to-do lists. So grab a friend and grab a tool like a guided Bible study, and engage both your head and your heart in God’s Word.