5 Strategies For Studying The Bible

5 strategies for studying the bible

When my husband and I first sat down to try and study the Bible together, we quickly realized how differently we approached our devotion times.  I liked to read a passage and think about the characters and how they were feeling and what I could learn from them.  Scott liked to read a passage and look up the Greek root words to determine the best etymology before picking an application from whatever passage he just read.  It makes me laugh, now, when I think about that first time.  We couldn’t have been more different from each other if we had tried.  And the funny part is, we both ended up with the same conclusion, we just got there in completely different ways.

I think that was the first time I realized that not everyone studies the Bible the same way that I do. In fact, I have learned a lot about studying the Bible from my husband.  He recently held a meeting with all of the youth leaders in our youth group.  In that meeting he handed out a notebook with a lot of information.  One of the sections included different ways to study the Bible.  I think these different methods are great because they help you dig into the meat of the Word and give you a plan and a purpose in your study. So if you are feeling kind of lost in your quiet time with God, maybe consider one of these approaches:lightstock_91821_medium_user_2412442

The Five P Bible Study Method

Step 1: Position yourself to hear from God. (Clear out distractions and ask God to help you stay focused.)

Step 2: Pore over the passage.  Paraphrase the major points.  (Ask yourself questions such as who is this about? When did this take place?  What happened? Where did this happen?  Why did this happen?)

Step 3: Pull out the spiritual principles. (What did you learn about God?)

Step 4: Pose the question. (Create a question directed at yourself from the spiritual principle.  Ex. If the spiritual principle is ‘God is faithful’, your question could be “What areas of my life do I need to trust in God’s faithfulness?”)

Step 5: Plan obedience and pin down a date. (How are you going to obey and when are you going to do it?)


The SPECK Bible Study Method

Step 1: Sins to avoid – make a list of things mentioned in this passage that we should avoid.

Step 2: Promises to claim – make a list of the promises mentioned in this passage.  Believe them!

Step 3: Examples to follow – what happened in this passage that you could follow in your own life?

Step 4: Commands to obey – write out the commands that were in your passage.  Are you obeying them?

Step 5: Knowledge of God to acquire – what did you learn about God in this passage?



The OPA Bible Study Method

Step 1: Observations – make a list of facts and things that stand out to you from the passage.

Step 2: Principles – what principles can you draw from your observations? What did you learn?

Step 3: Application – how can you apply these principles to your life? When and how are you going to make this happen?

The Paraphrase Method

After you read a passage, write it out in your own words.  Pretend like you are telling a friend about what you just read and who doesn’t know anything about the Bible.


The 7 Cs {aka the Chapter Study Method}

Step 1Caption – Give the chapter a short heading.

Step 2Contents – Outline the chapter.

Step 3Chief People – List the major characters in the reading.

Step 4Central Verse – Select a verse that stood out to you or that is important.

Step 5Crucial Word(s) – What are the key words in the reading?

Step 6Challenges – What don’t you understand?  What concepts do you struggle with?

Step 7Cross References – In your Bible there are often cross references.  Use these to  help you to understand the reading better.


How do you study the Bible? Do you have one method you prefer over another?

(P.S. For a family-fun way to study the Bible, check out our Christmas devotional More Than A Holiday designed with the whole family in mind.  We also have a 30 day devotional on the characteristics of being a disciple of God and a devotional on becoming a Proverbs 31 woman.  Be blessed!)




  1. This came at the right moment as I have been struggling with being consistent with my quiet time and managing the baby and homeschooling. I will try the 5 P method. Please keep me in prayer. Thanks! Giovanna

  2. The woman’s group I sometimes attend used SOAP Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. We sectioned out a paper (folded in four spaces). Scripture just means you read a passage and take time to write it out. Observation is just writing what you notice about the passage and then Application is how it applies to our lives, and Prayer is writing out a prayer about all you just wrote.
    It was an effective way to get a great discussion going and also to draw revelation from the WORD.

  3. Hey, I just wanted to mention a couple things. First of all, thank you for this post. I think I will be trying every single one of them to see what I like best (so far I think I’m mostly a summarizer). Secondly, and I hope I don’t start problems by mentioning this, but I found this article via Pinterest and actually clicked on two separate articles on Pinterest that used the same main image (the girl on the rock reading). I don’t know if the image belongs to you or to the other person who posted it or if it is a public domain image, but in case it belongs to you, which seems kind of likely because it resembles the other photos in your post and your article was posted first, I wanted you to be aware that it is being used elsewhere in case it is done without your permission. The other post I found it on (via Pinterest) is here: http://womenlivingwell.org/2014/08/9-ways-study-bible/

    • Jory, this is so funny. I was so confused at first, but it does look like we both wrote very similar blogs using the same cover image at around the same time lol. I got the picture from a Christian graphic company and so I’m sure that’s where they got it too. So funny! Thanks for pointing that out to me.

  4. 2. Pore over the passage – as in our skin has “pores”. I stopped reading at this point.

    • Hi Ellen,
      I can understand where you are coming from, but pore can also mean “be absorbed in the reading or study of” and “think intently; ponder”.

      • Ha. I learned something new because I had never known it meant that! I always thought it was “pour over”. 🙂 Glad to learn something new!

        I like this post a lot. I’m a (fairly) new Christian and all I know is that I don’t really like doing Bible Study books. I find that I don’t get as much out of them as I do just studying the Bible. I will be pinning this and printing them out to see if it helps me to better study.

        Interesting enough, I have a toddler and a preschooler and I am learning much about the Bible by learning with them. That’s a little sad that I know so little, but it is cool that we are learning together!

        • I don’t think it’s sad at all Jenny. I grew up in a Christian household and have been surrounded by Christian teachings my whole life, and I am also learning a great deal by learning with my 3 and 4.5 year old. They seem to ask questions that I have never even thought to consider before. There’s nothing like children to stretch us and grow us in our faith. 🙂 I am also like you and don’t get much out of Bible study books. I am going to be posting a new method soon that I started in studying the Bible with the help of my kids and it’s been really good for all of us!

  5. Greetings! I will admit those study types I have never hear of. For me, the OPA method is probably the closest to how I study. In my Bible Studies, it is ALL about turning information into revelation! Revelation is what really helps a believer understand what they read as it applies to their everyday life. Information is just the words on the page; in other words, the concrete information. But revelation is totally received through the Power of The Holy Spirit. Revelation translates the passage to many different life applications given various the analogies written underneath the surface. For example: When you read a passage one day and get something out of it to apply to your life but then you go back and read it weeks later and you receive a totally different revelation that is relevant to the first and directly applicable to scripture, that’s the Power of The Holy Spirit at work.

    So I encourage my followers to receive The Holy Spirit through asking Jesus Christ to baptize them with FIRE to open their eyes to the spiritual realm! The Bible has several layers of revelation that when spoken is known as Rhema Word! I have been through A LOT pain, suffering, affliction in my lifetime and there were times, I was HUNGRY for the word and I would just dig in like a ravenous wolf as soon as I got home from work. Or I would spend all day on a weekend just reading and meditating on Psalms, praying, and writing down whatever God spoke to me.

    To use the scriptures in meditation, you memorize the verse, then insert more comprehensive definitions for words like, “dismayed”, to get a full meaning of the verse. Then I will break into prayer during meditation to Jesus speaking the revelation received from meditating on the memorized verse and paraphrase it with my words speaking the promise back Him in trust and faith. Wow! Meditation is powerful! Then you have several verses memorized that you can just start thinking on in meditation at work (5-10 mins) or wherever/whenever you need a scripture snack. A calm sense of indescribable peace floods my body and pierces my spirit! There is a reason the Bible declares that we meditate day and night (in Joshua 1 & Psalm 1),

    I also like to highlight verses a lot, and use flags to mark the “really good stuff” that speaks to me. When I need encouragement, I go to the flagged pages. Big words that I don’t have a clear understanding on, I will look up the definitions and draw a box around the word, then write the definition on the same page in my Bible. I use various colors to express multiple definitions on the same page. They are called, “Sharpie Pens”, they have intense color but they won’t bleed through the page. Love them!

    I use three Bibles – NIV, Joyce Meyer’s Amplified Everyday Life Bible ( this one is truly awesome ) , KJV

    So I believe once you understand the information, it is time to get a revelation! I know my study is rather disorganized but I always pray first and then The Holy Spirit directs me to where to go and what to do when I get there. 🙂


    • I usually never reply to blog posts or comments on blog posts, but this really encouraged me! We seem to study in similar and simple ways. I like how you mentioned you feel guided by The Holy Spirit when you read, and that you meditate on certain verses and certain words within the verse. You also gave some helpful tips about what to do about those tough words in scripture that is a different technique than what I do now…so thank you for that! I enjoyed reading your post because it shows that someone else studies a similar way that I do and still receive revelation as well even though it may not be as complex as some other structures listed.
      Blessings to you as well as you continue to study The Word!

  6. I love the SPECK method…this a new one I had not heard of and definitely will be trying. I have been using the SOAP method and other methods but after having read the OT 3 times and NT-7 times, I feel like I am kind of in a rut. I am currently doing some bible studies which can be great but sometimes I just want to read where God leads.

  7. I’m so blessed with this post, I’m planning to follow The Five P Bible study method because it appealed to me the most, I wrote it out on the first page of my bible for guidance :)) Thanks for sharing this! I shall share this post to my friends

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  9. I just stumbled upon this article and the article title “When Worry Steals Your Joy” and they came just at the time I needed it. I have been struggling with some pretty bad sins and have been worshipping at the feet of Doubt and Fear of never getting out of it so I just stopped fighting it and it became worse and I started getting far from God. I had been talking to my youth leaders and they said I needed to get in my Bible more but I didn’t want to. Then the other day I made a really bad choice and had to get right with God but the devil got a hold of me today and started throwing my fears and doubts at me saying that I wasn’t going to be able to serve God because of this and that I was never going to get out of it and I ended up having a panic and anxiety attack at school and I talked to two of my principles and they told me the same things my parents and youth leaders were telling me so here I am making changes. I just want to thank you for writing these articles because they came at the exact time I needed it!

    • I’m so glad you found encouragement from this article. Isn’t it funny how God gives us just what we need, when we need it? Find encouragement, it doesn’t matter what sin you are struggling with, God is bigger! Have you heard the saying “Don’t tell God how big your mountain is, tell your mountain how big your God is!” I’m praying for you right now! I’m glad you are connected with a youth leader. I’m also going to send you a PDF copy of our new devotional on becoming a disciple of God. I hope it blesses you!

  10. Thanks Sarah, for this wonderful bible study guide. It has blessed my life immensely. A lot of lapses I have been experiencing in my bible study life. i have a big solution in this pieces of write up. Thanks once again and keep it up.

    • I’m so glad that this post has blessed you! I know how hard it is to stay motivated and consistent in studying the Bible. I definitely wrote this post from the perspective of a person who desires to have a stronger spiritual life and not someone who has got it all figured out!

  11. Thanks so much for this! I love the idea of paraphrasing the passage in your own words – I had never thought of that before. I’ve used the OPA method before, but occasionally I like to switch it up. Thanks for the suggestions. 🙂