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I love a good Bible study acronym. Probably because I love Bible study. I’m in favor of anything that will help me – or you – study the Word more intentionally. So, I decided to create a list of all the Bible study acronyms I could find.
But, I soon found out that someone else had beaten me to it. Alyson at Write Them on My Heart has an (almost) exhaustive list of acronyms to aid in Bible study.
Therefore, I decided I’d share with you my favorite acronyms instead.
I love this method, created by Asheritah at One Thing Alone. It is designed to help you get more out of your devotional time.
- F – FOCUS your heart and mind.
- Here you start with prayer, asking the Lord to open your spiritual eyes to what He has for you today. He is far more interested in meeting with us and teaching us through His Word than we realize. By starting with prayer, you put Jesus first and invite Him to be your Teacher.
- Also, in the FOCUS step, we need to eliminate distractions. Do this by turning off the phone, disengaging from social media and email, and setting aside a special place for meeting with the Lord daily.
- Finally, in this step, you select a verse or two that is the FOCUS of your attention, from the passage you are reading. This verse should be written out long-hand in your journal.
- E – ENGAGE the text.
- Here we start making observations about what the text is saying. As you make notes in your journal, you might want to explore certain words or phrases, look up cross-references, and read the context surrounding the verses you are engaging with.
- The text is easier to engage if you start with questions. Good question starters are the 5 Ws and an H from journalism 101: who, what, when, where, why, and how.
- A – ASSESS the meaning.
- Now, you start digging deeper. Ask yourself what the passage meant to the original audience. How would they relate to the passage differently than you do? What are some cultural and historical facts that change the way the passage would be perceived?
- This focus is all about the original audience.
- Think they, then, and there. The next step will be us, here, and now.
- S – SPARK transformation.
- This is the applying step. How does God want you to change because of what you have just read and studied? Think about attitudes and actions, and then make a concrete goal for implementing change.
- Your change plan should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
- T – TURN toward God.
- End your study or devotional time by turning to the Lord in praise, thanksgiving, and worship. Just as you began with prayer – focusing on the Lord – close your time with praise – again focusing on the Lord.
FEAST on the Word regularly and you will never regret it.
This is the basic foundational study method used by so many Bible scholars. However, it is simple enough for a child to understand. There is nothing cutesy about this method, but you will gain much by following it. I have done many studies using the OIA method. It is an old study method – probably as old as the Word!
- O – OBSERVATION
- First, after choosing a passage to read and study, you observe what is written. Try hard during this step to avoid reading into the passage, but just observe whatever is there.
- Of course, you should be taking notes of what you observe. Include questions, concerns, and comments in your notes. These may be items you’ll want to study in more detail later, problems you don’t see an obvious solution to, or questions that may be answered in the context of the passage.
- I – INTERPRETATION
- In this second step, you’ll want to determine what the passage meant in its original context. That probably will mean studying the historical and cultural backgrounds – at least as far as reading the notes in your study Bible.
- You’ll also want to take note of any figurative language in this step. “The Lord is a strong tower” (Proverbs 18:10) does not mean that He is literally a tower, but rather that He is a protector, a shelter, a defense.
- Asking and answering questions should also be an important part of the interpretation step.
- Finally, you’ll want to determine the main point. What is the big idea the author is trying to get across to his audience in this passage?
- A – APPLICATION
- If you just study the Bible for the sake of knowledge – whether to satisfy your curiosity, prove you can do it, or win at trivia – you will be selling yourself short. The entire point of the Bible is life transformation. That comes from learning the lessons in the Word and applying them to your life.
- Ask yourself questions like the following:
- Is there an attitude to change, a sin to confess, or a belief to embrace?
- Is there something I can do to serve someone in my immediate circle of influence?
- Is there something I can do to encourage someone who isn’t in my closest circle of friends and family?
- What would Jesus do, based on the passage I studied?
For more information and a ‘deeper dive’ into this method, check out this post by Peter Krol at Knowable Word.
5 Ps of Bible Study
I love this method of studying the word also. It was developed by Priscilla Shirer, and you can see her video explanation on YouTube. What I love most about it is the deliberate slowness of the method.
- POSITION yourself to hear from God.
- This is done in prayer. As with any Bible study method – whether it’s spelled out or not – the vital first step is prayer.
- Beyond praying, however, position yourself to hear from God by clearing away the mental, physical, and spiritual clutter in your life. This means turning off the phone, TV, and tunes. It means getting to a quiet place for time in the presence of the Lord. It means confessing your sins so that nothing stands in the way of your hearing from the Lord.
- POUR OVER the passage and PARAPHRASE the major points.
- Meditate on what you read. Focus on quality time in the Word, not quantity – trying to study huge portions at a time.
- Look for the who, what, when, where, and why of the verse.
- Paraphrasing is simply writing the meaning of the passage in your own words.
- PULL OUT spiritual principles from your paraphrases.
- The principles are those that are not historically or culturally specific but apply to all believers everywhere and everywhen.
- What is God teaching? What is He revealing about Himself? What is He instructing His children?
- POSE the question.
- Turn the spiritual principles you just recorded into a self-directed question. For example, “Am I obeying that commanding?” “Do I believe what God says and that He is who He says He is?” “Am I living by those injunctions?”
- Asking yourself pointed questions gives the Holy Spirit a foothold for working in your life. This is where a divine dialogue can take place. Be prepared for the Spirit to bring other questions to your mind that you had not considered – or may even have been avoiding.
- PLAN obedience and PIN DOWN a date to obey.
- God speaks to us through His Word. But He speaks because He wants us to obey. So plan what you are going to do to obey him. Maybe it will be planning to implement a new habit, to stop a behavior, or to speak to someone. Whatever He brings to your mind to do, make a plan to do it.
- Then, make a deadline. I will do __________ by the first of next month, or by this Friday, or by five o’clock this afternoon.
Priscilla Shirer is one of my favorite teachers in ministry today. I love hearing her teach and reading what she writes. And I love the depth of this method of Bible study – creating for pondering the Word intensely and hearing from the Lord clearly. If you had to choose one method to use for the rest of your life, I’d encourage you to use the 5 Ps of Bible Study.
Remember: we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in the short term (1 year) but underestimate what we can accomplish in the long-term (10 years). Have a plan for studying, and you’ll get both depth and breadth over several years.