How do you focus on Scripture without distractions, gleaning the lessons you need to grow in your faith?
To help, Anne Graham Lotz developed a Bible study method based on three questions that zone in on the meaning of the passage and draw lessons from it.
Lotz sums up the process like this: “What does it say? You list your facts. What does it mean? Draw a principle from each fact. What does it mean in my life? You put the principle or the lesson in the form of a question that you ask yourself, and then you write out what you think your takeaway was.”
But First, Pray
Before you start to study, pray. Ask God to reveal what He wants you to learn from the passage.
“There’s a dimension of Scripture that only opens up to those who approach it by faith,” Lotz explained. “Pray that the Holy Spirit who inspired every word in this book would open it up for you and that you could hear His voice speaking to you through it.”
Once you begin reading, ask yourself these three questions.
1. What Does God’s Word Say?
To hear God speak through a passage, you first need to understand it.
Read through the section of Scripture, then read through it again. What are the main parts that stand out to you? What verses are most important to the story or the theme?
Write down key words from those verses in a list format.
Anne Graham Lotz calls these “facts” and encourages you to stick with words straight out of the passage. “If you rush this, you’re in danger of putting words in God’s mouth,” Lotz warns. “We want this [to be] exactly what He’s saying.”
2. What Does God’s Word Mean?
With that list of facts before you, look through them for important lessons. The main idea here is to draw a lesson from the facts gathered in the previous step.
Ask: What are people in the passage doing right? What are they doing wrong? Does the passage contain an example? A promise? A warning? Is there a command you should obey?
“There’s no right or wrong answer,” Lotz said, and the answers will be unique to you. “The facts are the facts, but then from those facts, you’re going to see different lessons than someone else.”
3. What Does God’s Word Mean in My Life?
The final step is to take the principles you just wrote down and rephrase them as a question to ask yourself.
Anne’s Suggestions for Bible Study
- Set aside a regular place for study.
- Set aside a regular time.
- Pray, asking God to speak to you.
- Write out answers to each of the 3 questions.
- Make time to reflect on your responses.
For example: If the lesson is “Obedience to God’s Word does not come automatically or naturally; it must be learned”—an idea drawn from Psalm 119:33—the question could be “How teachable am I?”
But don’t stop there. Make note of the points that stood out to you the most.
“If God has seemed to speak to you, then what I do is I write out what I think God has said to me. … What will I do in order to live it out? What has God said to me that I’m going to live it out?”
With all that written down, go and apply it to your life.