17 Devotional Bible Study Methods
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. - Matthew 4:4 (ESV)
I love studying Scripture. It is an adventure that will take lifetime to complete, and even then I will have barely scratched the surface.
We all need God's Word in our lives daily, and if you have yet to make daily Bible reading a habit, now is the perfect time to start! Yet reading alone will not change your life, it's the application that makes the difference.
Today we are focusing on devotional study methods, which is the perfect place to start if you are new to personal Bible study. These are designed to be used...you guessed it...during your morning devotional time (your quiet time, Jesus time, or whatever you prefer to call it). Whether you read a few verses or a few chapters, devotional study methods are tools designed to help you engage with the Word of God.
What I love about the devotional methods is that you only need my Bible, notebook, and pen. No other tools are required but feel free to use any other resources to deepen your study. I prefer my morning "Jesus Time" to be electronic free, which is why I save my deeper (electronic) study for later in the day.
Unsure where to start? Well lucky for you I've compiled a list of 17 different devotional study methods for you to try. These are simple and designed to help you deepen and develop your relationship with the Word.
Please note, I am not the creator of any of these methods. You'll find the original creator noted beneath each method as well as a link back to their post where you'll find free resources and further detail about their method.
The 17 Methods
You'll find that there is a lot of similarity among these methods. Most use an inductive study approach focusing on observation, interpretation, and application. Prayer is noted in many, albiet at different times, while others don't specifically mention it and assume you've already begun with prayer. Nearly all use an acronym or other pneumonic device and some have you write out a scripture to meditate on or memorize.
My goal here was to compile a list of every method I could find, to give you options and let you decide which ones you prefer, that way you won't have to go scouring the Internet for new devotional methods. By the way, if I missed your favorite, please let me know in the comments.
We all have our own unique preferences and styles, some may prefer one acronym, others another. Who knows, maybe you'll be inspired to create your very own. Whatever the case may be, let these devotional study methods be a tool that deepens your relationship with the Word.
1. Inductive Bible Study
Inductive study is simple and succinct and is the foundation for many of the following study methods, which include at least one, if not all of its components.
Observation - What does the passage say?
Interpretation - What does the passage mean?
Application - How does the passage apply to my life?
I've simplified it here to the base questions but check out this article from Logos for a more detailed breakdown.
2. S.O.A.P. (or S.O.A.K.)
This is probably the most common method out there. It was the first method I ever used to study my Bible and I found it simple yet meaningful. However, it doesn't include an interpretation section, which I believe to be a valuable component in Biblical study. Still, I highly recommend this format and you'll find that several of the following methods are based on and variations of this S.O.A.P. method.
Scripture - Write out one verse that stood out, or was meaningful, to you.
Observation - As you read, write down your observations.*
Application - How can I apply this scripture/passage to my life?
Prayer / Kneel - Respond to God in prayer using the passage and application as a guide.
* This is meant to be open ended and free form, but feel free to use "The 5 W's and an H" or the S-P-A-C-E P-E-T-S acrostic to guide your observations.
There are so many resources available out there for this method, but my favorite has to be this worksheet from Dear Crissy. It's simple, minimalist and a great tool to help you implement this method.
Most often this method is used for small passages, even as short as a verse or two. I like how it follows a pray, read, think, write format even if it does lump a lot into the last section.
Greet - Invite God into your quiet time by opening in prayer.
Read - Read the verse or passage silently or aloud a few times.
Observe - What stood out to you as you read this passage?
Write - Write out a verse, your observations, and a prayer.
I consider this method to be an upgrade to the traditional S.O.A.P. method, although it does not have you write out a focus Scripture. I appreciate how it includes all components of inductive study, and yet also provides further guidance with focus questions.
Read - Read the passage a few times, asking God to speak to you. As you are reading ask:
• What is happening in the passage, what is emphasized, repeated, or related?
• What do I see about God? What is He doing in this passage?
• What do I see about man? What are people doing?
Examine - Reflect and ask yourself questions focusing on meaning of the text:
• Who is writing, to whom, when, and why?
• What did I learn about God, myself, or others?
• What questions do I have?
Apply - Meditate on the passage and ask yourself these questions:
• What do I need to change in light of this text?
• How will I live differently and be different because of what I just read?
Pray - Pray through the passage and your application.
R.E.A.P. Bible Study Method Resources by Tasha Wiginton
While not specifically spelled out, this one can easily accommodate all components of inductive study. I also like how it encourages you to read the passage multiple times (a key to effective study).
Write - Pray and read through the passage once, writing out one verse that stood out to you.
Observe - Read the passage again making observations.
• Read around the passage so that you understand the context of the verse/passage
• Use the 5 W's as a guide: who, what, where, when, and why?
Relevant - How is this verse/passage relevant and applicable to your life today?
Declare - Pray and declare the Scriptures over your life.
Creator: Erika from A Symphony of Praise (+ Resources)
Once again we're focusing on meditating on the Word. This method is more internal, having you only write out one verse and your response to what you read in Scripture.
Read - Read a short passage.
Engage - Writing out a verse that stood out to you.
Savor - Meditate on the passage.
Take charge - How will you respond to what the Lord is impressing on your heart?
Creator: Kaylene Yoder (+ Resources)
This one very simple, and only has you write down one verse from your reading. I do like how it emphasizes reading the passage carefully and prayerfully.
Ask - Pray and ask God what He wants you to understand about the passage.
Chapter - Read the chapter carefully and prayerfully.
Think - Think about how the chapter may apply to your life.
Scripture - Write out one verse that stood out to you in your reading.
Creator: Jamie from Like A Bubbling Brook
Once again, very similar to the S.O.A.P. and R.E.A.P. methods but I like how this method is focused on Scripture coming alive and hearing Him as He speaks through His Word. I think you can easily add an interpretation component to the examine section and make it a complete inductive study.
His Word - Write down the verse(s) that spoke to you from your reading.
Examine - What did you observe? What did you learn?
• Record 2-3 facts you discovered.
• Use the 5 W's and an an H" to guide you.
Apply - How can you apply the passage to your life? Use S-P-A-C-E P-E-T-S to help you.
Respond - Write your response to God, your prayer.
Creator: Teresa from Ladies Drawing Nigh (+ Resources)
Here the focus is more personalized and application based. Although not expressively, I think it could be argued that it includes all components of inductive study.
Identification - What's going on in the passage?
Direction - What truth is the passage directing me to see?
Encouragement - What is the passage encouraging me to do?
Application - How can I personally apply this passage to my life?
Creator: Kelly Basham from Blossom In Faith (+ Resources)
Yay! We've made it to the 5 letter acronyms! This one plays around with the order a bit, but is very similar to the methods we have seen. I do like how it emphasizes beginning and ending with prayer (some methods don't specifically mention this in their acronyms but still encourage you to begin and end with prayer).
Observe - What does the passage show about God, about me?
Write - Write out a verse that stood out our touched your heart.
Envision - How do I see this verse or passage applied to my life?
Response - Respond to God in prayer (and application).
Creator: Jenny from The Littlest Way (+ Resources)
I absolutely love the action words used in this acronym. Bonus points for beginning and ending with prayer as well as including all inductive study components.
Focus - Focus your mind and heart: What do You want me to learn today?
Engage - Read the passage and engage in it by writing down observations: What does it say?
Assess - Assess the main idea of the passage: What did it mean to the original audience?
Spark - Ask the Holy Spirit to spark transformation: How does this apply to me?
Turn - Turn your heart and mind to God in worship: How should I respond to God?
Creator: Asheritah from One Thing Alone (+ Resources)
This one is open ended without much detailed guidance. We also see thanksgiving introduced as a new element to Bible study.
Supplication - Pray earnestly and humbly. Be real with God.
• Meditate on the passage.
• Write out a verse or two.
• Read the passage or verse aloud.
Learn - Put your passage in context by reading around it.
• What questions come to mind?
• What do you need to research or look up?
Thanksgiving - Thank God for who He is and His Word.
You - What does this verse (or passage) look like in your life?
Creator: Abby from Rock This Revival (+ Resources)
I absolutely love the use of the word investigate in this method. It's like you're a sleuth searching the Scripture to uncover the truth. However, this would also require additional resources (like the Internet) to complete.
Pray - Ask God for the discipline to study His Word. Where does He want you reading?
Read - Read the passage making sure to do so within proper context.
Assess - Mull over what you are reading and meditate on it.
• What is God trying to say?
• What is the author trying to tell the audience?
• What do the words mean to these people?
• What do they mean to me and my life?
• How can I apply this scripture to my life?
• What are the keywords or phrases in this passage?
• Look up original Greek and Hebrew and definitions for full meaning.
• Research culture and tradition for historical context.
• Ask questions and seek answers.
Submit - Submit to the Word of God.
Express - Live out what you learn by applying it to your life.
Creator: Starla from Coffee with Starla (+ Resources)
I love how this method has a relational focus, and emphasizes realistic application. Additional resources are required to dig deeper in the study section, but you could also think of it as a section where you write out questions or concepts for further study / research.
Pray - Write out a prayer to start your study.
Read - Read and note the passage(s) you are reading.
Observe - Bullet point a few observations about the passage.
Study - Focus on a word or concept.
Ponder - What has God shown to me about this passage?
Engage - How does God want me to obey this passage?
Repetitive Action -What is one small "seed" I can sow to reap a harvest of righteousness?
Creator: Arabah Joy (+ Resources)
15. The 5 R's Method
Finally...we are moving on from acronyms! I like how in this method includes a section where you summarize (restate), in your own words, what is happening in the passage. Relating and revealing is about personal connection and uncovering the deeper meaning.
Relate / Reveal
Creator: Alicia from Vibrant Christian Living (I am unable to share specific details on this method, but she does offer a free course on her site where she walks you through her 5 R's Method.)
16. The 5 P's Method
Simple enough to remember yet enough to provide a deep study. This one makes my favorites list, containing all inductive study components and focusing on living out what was read.
Position yourself to hear from God.
Pour over the passage and paraphrase the major points.
• Look for the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the verse.
Pull out the spiritual principles.
• What is God teaching? What is He revealing about Himself?
Pose the question: form a personally directed question from each of the spiritual principles.
Plan obedience and pin down a date.
Creator: Priscilla Shirer (check out this video where she discusses The 5 P's Method)
17. Rick Warren's Devotional Study Method
It wasn't until after I discovered Rick Warren's Bible Study Method's book that I became passionate and intrigued about all the different veins of Bible study, I even taught a Life Group on it at our church. The focus of his devotional method is on application, and I like how he includes both meditation and memorization components in his method.
Prayer - Pray for insight on how you can apply the passage to your life.
• Visualize the scene of the narrative in your mind.
• Emphasize words in the passage under study.
• Paraphrase the passage under study.
• Personalize the passage you are studying.
• Pray the verse or passage back to God.
• Use the S-P-A-C-E P-E-T-S acrostic.
Application - Write out an application that is personal, practical, possible, and provable.
Memorization - Write out and memorize a key verse from your study.
Hint: do a quick google search and you'll be able to find a downloadable PDF of all his Bible Study Method's. 😉
Well, what did you think? Are there any new ones you're going to try out this week? Did I miss your favorite? If so, please let me know so I can add it to the list.
Stay tuned for a future post where I'll be sharing my personal devotional study method (a compilation of the best of these 17 methods) as well as a resource to help you dig deeper in your mornings with Scripture.
Truthfully Bible study can be defined as simply reading with a pen in hand. It's about taking notes, recording your thoughts, slowing down to be present and meditating on what you are reading.
I pray these devotional methods have both inspired and equipped you with tools to help you dig deeper in His Word daily.
Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. - Psalm 119:105 (ESV)