It is the assigned task of every true Christian: followers of Jesus, to diligently study the Word of God. Listening to a sermon on Sunday mornings is not “studying” the Word. This may prove enlightening, but God desires to speak directly to each of His children and He does that through Bible study.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (NKJV)
The King James version says it more directly:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
The Greek word translated as “rightly dividing” means “to cut straight”. A workman in any field must have proficiency with his tools to produce good results, for example: to cut a straight line a carpenter must know how to use his saw properly. The same is true with Bible study and the Christian life. The Bible is our primary tool for fashioning our own life and leading others to Christ. If we don’t understand it, we can’t use it properly.
Learning to use it means spending time in its pages, reading and studying. God speaks to us through His Word. Whether you do this with the aid of a study guide, or a daily Bible reading devotional, or set out to read the whole thing cover to cover, or hop around, the important thing is to be in its pages letting God speak to you.
Because this is an important task, it deserves a moment of preparation before we begin. Carve out of your busy day a few moments when you can be alone and can have solitude. If that means getting up a few minute earlier than the family, do it. Do not turn on the TV or the radio, do not pick up your phone: devote these minutes entirely to letting God speak to you.
In the New King James version, Psalm 119 is titled, “Meditations on the Excellencies of the Word of God”. It is long! But we don’t need to read the whole psalm as a preparation of bible study. If we take out 4 passages, short enough to write them on a card and keep them handy, they will help us prepare our minds for Bible study.
First we acknowledge God and ask His favor: Verse 12 says, Blessed are You O Lord! Teach me Your statutes.
Then we ask that God will help us to understand what we read. Verse 18: Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.
In modern days we think of the heart as the seat of feeling and emotion, but in Biblical times the heart was the center of reason and knowledge. We might say someone “decided”, but the bible often uses he “purposed in his heart.”
Verses 36-37 say,
36 Incline my heart to You testimonies,
And not to covetousness.
37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.
Here we are asking God to help us focus on what is really important and not to be distracted by the shiny things of the world. Greed, ambition, selfishness build a wall between God and us.
And finally, verse 73b says, Give me understanding, that I may learn your commandments.
If you fashion an earnest prayer to God using these 4 passages from His Word, it will help you get into the proper mindset to effectively study, comprehend, and act on His instructions to us. Take what you learn and apply it to your life. The more obedient you are, the more He will teach you. Refuse Him in the simple things and He will not teach you the deeper things.