If you’re like me, you might be feeling a bit unsettled these days, wondering how to find and embrace inner peace. There’s one thing that’s helped me immensely and that’s drawing near to God. My ultimate favorite way to do that is through Bible Study. I receive a lot of questions about how to get started, so I decided to post these helpful tips for Bible study beginners.
If this is your first step into learning God’s Word, allow me to be the first to say welcome to Bible study! Knowing some basic information will help you persevere, and will hopefully set a fire in your heart for learning more about God through the Bible. So let’s start at the beginning.
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Why is Bible Study Important for Beginners?
Before beginning any endeavor, it’s important to understand why you’re starting. Your “why” will help you push through when it doesn’t feel easy, or in the case of Bible study, when you’d rather press your snooze button and get a few extra minutes of sleep. Here are some compelling reasons why Bible study is important:
We learn about God.
The Bible reveals who God is and shows His character. Sometimes it seems the world portrays God as a mean judge, constantly trying to catch us making mistakes. As you open His Word, however, that’s not what you’ll find at all. You’ll begin to see His true nature as a loving Father, a helpful Guide, and a beloved friend.
The Bible is a Plumbline of Truth.
There’s a lot of noise in our society, and lots of people offering their opinions on every subject imaginable. It’s always important to have a baseline of truth from which to consider the opinions of others. God’s Word is truth (see John 17:17). When we know and understand His truth, it strengthens our daily decisions, improves our relationships, and delivers inner peace.
We discover God’s love for us.
Bible study is especially important for beginners who want to discover how God sees them as His children. Through God’s Word, I discover that I am His child, He loves me unconditionally, I never disappoint Him, and that He values me just as I am—so much that His Son willingly sacrificed His life for me. As you dig into His Word, you’ll realize He feels just the same about you
What is the Best Way for Beginners to Study the Bible?
While there are many methods of Bible study, the best way for beginners to study the is to. . .
- Observe the Text by slowly reading and examining what it says.
- Interpret the Text by looking up meanings of words in the original language and taking context into consideration. Even beginners can do this easily with Bible apps like Strong’s Concordance or through websites like blueletterbible.com.
- Apply the Text by taking what you learn to heart. Consider how it can impact your situation, your upcoming decisions, and your current needs. Then trust God’s instruction and live it out.
Bible Study Ideas
As you begin to study the Bible at home, here are some ideas to get you started.
Study the Bible by Verse
Bible apps like You Version Bible provide a verse of the day and offer a large number of translations to choose from. Using that as a starting point, you can use the Observe, Interpret, Apply method of Bible study (detailed above) to learn more about that verse.
Study the Bible by Topic
If you’re currently struggling with something specific (such as fear, worry or anxiety), you can use sites like info to search for those words and discover what the Bible says about them.
Study the Bible by Book
Many people study individual books of the Bible, like the book of Esther, for example, or John, or Matthew, or Romans. By studying a book in its entirety, you’ll discover much deeper meaning and context than studying by verse.
Bible Study Groups
It’s always nice to study with a group of friends. Having the ability to talk about what you’re learning is helpful and many times additional resources are used inside groups. Since it’s difficult to meet in groups right now, online Bible studies are becoming more popular. One I recommend is through the Facebook group for The Joyful Life Magazine. They offer online studies once a quarter or so.
Bible Study at Home
Here’s where I want to encourage you right now. Just begin today, right where you are. Pray and ask God to lead you with His wisdom, then open His Word and begin. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll reap some of His overwhelming blessings. Engage with your family members, or start off on your own. There’s no reason to fear because God will meet with you when you seek Him. When the Bible seems confusing, look into different versions or look up the word meanings as suggested above, or consult with a friend or pastor who knows the Bible well.
Tools for Bible Study Beginners
You may wonder what you need to begin studying the Bible. What you truly need is simply a Bible (electronic or in book form), a pencil, and some paper. The more you progress, however, the more you’ll enjoy having some writing tools to use. The pages of paper Bibles are thin and a lot of the writing instruments we use every day bleed through the pages and make it hard to read. Here are some of my favorite writing tools that I use specifically for Bible study:
Bible Study Pens
I like these Micro Pens from Amazon because they come in a variety of colors, they’re fine-tipped which makes it easier to write in small spaces, and best of all, they don’t bleed through Bible pages. This set from Sakura is even higher quality but has fewer color selections.
Bible Study Highlighters
Call me crazy but my favorite Bible study highlighters aren’t highlighters at all. They’re colored pencils, but they never bleed, they’re comfortable to write with, and they come in a large variety of colors. Check out these Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils. You can also find Bible Study Highlighters in Bible book stores or online, but I find they’re more expensive and don’t last as long.
It’s nice to have smaller, narrower sticky notes that fit into the margins of your Bible. For that reason, I like those designed for calendars like these from Erin Condren. (And they’re cute)!
Bible Reflection Worksheets
I created these printable worksheets to use over and over with any book or passage of the Bible. They’ve proved invaluable in my faith walk and I hope you’ll enjoy them!
Books I recommend for Bible Study Beginners
It’s always a good idea to start to accumulate a small library of resources. There are several books I recommend—specifically for Bible Study beginners—because they have fueled my own faith.
- Without question, you need a Bible that’s easy to read and understand. To begin your journey, I recommend a version that’s a bit more conversational in tone, but still maintains the integrity of original Biblical texts. The CSB version is my favorite and is available in these gems: The Study Bible for Women, She Reads Truth and (in)Courage Devotional Bible.
- Believing God was the first book I ever read by Beth Moore and it had a profound impact on my life and ministry. It remains one of my highest recommendations, even after all these years.
- Kay Arthur is another Bible study favorite because she teaches you to mine God’s word for truth on your own. I recommend Lord Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days.
I hope these pointers and recommendations get you off to a strong start in Bible study, especially if you’re a beginner. As always, I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions!
To your closer connection to God,
Nearly every Christian can use a boost in our prayer lives, whether we’re seasoned or new to the practice. I thought I’d share what I believe are the best Christian books on prayer. Perhaps they’ll make good gifts for friends or titles to add to your own wish list. I hope they’ll eventually make it into your library because each of them will strengthen your prayer life.
Any way you look at it, this will be a good resource whenever you need it. I suggest you bookmark this post if you think you’ll refer back to it later. 🙂
This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure statement.
Best Christian Books on Prayer
Let’s get to it! Here are the books on prayer that I most often recommend. Be sure to read all the way through—at the end of this post, I’ll share a few of my additional favorite things.
Number One: Fervent
by Priscilla Shirer
I had the privilege of watching this book in action and it was amazing! We used Fervent as a backdrop for our Lord, Teach Us to Pray study. Many in the group were blessed through Priscilla’s direct approach and practical wisdom. Some said it was the best book they read all year. Purchase Fervent Here
This book is a long-time favorite, filled with stories, testimonies, and powerful works of God that the Brooklyn Tabernacle church experienced through the prayer of the people. It provides a lot of ideas to strengthen your prayer life. Purchase Fresh Wind Fresh Fire here
Beth simply speaks my language. I am always blessed by her teaching and this book is no exception. My highlighter worked overtime in this book. She shares her teaching journey and gives us a “behind the scenes look” at her ministry – while encouraging readers to dig into God’s Word and pray it right back to Him. If you’re looking for Scriptures to strengthen your prayer life, look no further. Purchase Praying God’s Word Here
Stormie has written extensively on the topic of prayer and you’re sure to find blessing through any (and all) of her work. In this particular edition, Stormie encourages us to pray for something we tend to neglect: ourselves. It’s not selfish, it’s not idolatry. Praying for our own needs is a BIG part of self-care that equips us to meet the needs of those around us. As women, we often pour out at work, as a parent, as a spouse, as a daughter, as a sister, and as a friend. This is God’s reminder that He’s willing to pour into us. What a gem. Purchase The Power of a Praying Woman here
To me, this is a bare-bones basic instruction manual on how and when to pray and holds a solid position in my best Christian books on prayer. Elizabeth has a wonderful way of making things simple and easy to follow. You’ll grow spiritually as you read her work, and this book helps us all strengthen our prayer by putting it into practice. Purchase The Heart of a Woman Who Prays here
Like Fervent, this book came out of the inspiration of the movie War Room. It takes beginners and seasoned prayer warriors through simple and attainable practices to engage in prayer. My favorite quote from this book is “When prayer becomes your immediate reflex instead of your last resort, the whole battlefield begins to tilt in your direction.” The Kendrick brothers show us how to use prayer as the first weapon we grab when trials strike. This will make a great gift for the men in your lives, and you’ll find encouragement in its pages as well. Purchase The Battle Plan for Prayer here
Here’s a moment of transparency. I haven’t read this one. It was recommended to me by my dear friend and mentor who worked with Evelyn in her ministry. When I purchased it… I bought the wrong book. (It was by Evelyn Christiansen and it blessed me immensely – the link to that book is here.) At any rate, I have no doubt of its excellence. Evelyn led the charge for prayer groups forming around the world in the 70’s and 80’s. We have much to glean from her wisdom. Purchase What Happens When Women Pray here
This book goes far beyond prayer and covers many different faith-building practices. I include it in this list of best Christian books on prayer for its comprehensive encouragement in both prayer and fasting, which go hand in hand. Don’t let the word “disciplines” scare you – for the most part, they’re simple ways to engage with the Lord and build a strong, foundational relationship with Him. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to deepen their walk with Christ. Purchase Spiritual Disciplines here
Number Nine: War Room movie
(I know, it’s not a book).
If you haven’t yet viewed this movie, you must. It shares a great story of a woman who’s learning, for the first time, to pray through her trials and provides heartfelt motivation to get on your knees. Seriously, this is a must-see for anyone who follows Christ. Just do it. It’s worth owning, but you can rent it on Amazon Prime as well. Purchase War Room here
Adding to the Best Christian Books on Prayer. . .
I created this journal to inspire myself to record my prayers, to remember how I prayed so I can watch the Lord move through my prayers, and to remember to praise and thank Him daily. It’s a lot of fun to share personal tools with all of you. I’m giving this journal to several people on my gift list. Maybe your friends will enjoy using it too! Purchase My Prayer Journal here
My heart thrills with a new journal and colorful pens. Many in our prayer group feel the same way, so here is a look at some of the pens I most enjoy using. I’m going to spare you the commentary because each would say, “I love these pens so much – they’re my favorite!” Instead of sharing that redundancy, I’ll just let you know which I like. It’s all about mood for me—the type of tip my fingers happen to anticipate and the color that strikes my fancy. Yes, I have a large pen collection… scattered everywhere in the house.
Purchase EnerGel Pens here
Purchase Paper Mate Pens here
Purchase FORAY Pens here
Purchase Micron Pens here
There you have it—my list of top Christian books on prayer and some of my favorite tools. I hope you enjoy them all as much as I do and that they will help you begin to build your own library and collection.
It was a tough morning. I could barely keep my eyes open and struggled to get out of bed with any level of energy. I felt mentally ready to face the day and my spirits were high, but my body wasn’t cooperating. It just wanted more sleep!
Have you ever felt that way?
Naturally, I made my way straight to the coffee pot, which is part of my normal routine. But caffeine didn’t do the trick. I’ve noticed that it’s not always the miracle pep-provider that I hope. Fresh fruit for breakfast didn’t help, either. My time with Jesus helped a bit and I could finally start to move the wheels on this bus. Once I got moving, I started feeling a lot better. My liveliness and clarity were great through a couple of morning meetings, but then I sat down to work at my desk and my energy plummeted again.
Why am I so tired, I wondered. And then it became clear. I haven’t taken a real day off for weeks. Our entire family is getting ready for some big moves and gigantic changes and we’ve all been running proverbial marathons. Several of us have been sick, fighting through colds, coughs, and sneezes just trying to stay on track. It seems we never stop. And that’s probably because, in reality, we never stop.
Rest in the Bible
There’s a little gift the Lord gave us that we tend to overlook. It’s the gift of rest. If I dig deeper into my honesty tank, I’d say we ignore the gift. On purpose. That’s not good.
Our family has a propensity to let our ever-increasing task list and upcoming deadlines keep us from enjoying Sabbath. Perhaps your family does too.
Many Scriptural encouragements remind me that the Lord provided rest for our good. Yet it is an aspect of His protection and provision that we often fail to embrace. Consider with me:
Mark 6:31— And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat (ESV).
Matthew 11:29— Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (ESV).
Exodus 34:21— “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest (ESV).
Mark 2:27— And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (ESV).
Setting aside a day each week for rest is commanded (“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. . .” [Exodus 20:8]), and as with all Scriptural commands, it’s intended for our good and God’s glory.
Rest and Productivity
I find it remarkable that when I take true, Sabbath, I’m more productive afterward. I recognize the Lord’s hand of favor and ease over my work. It’s as if I get more done after a break than I would have without one. Then I wonder why it’s so easy to ignore rest and work straight through the week.
Apparently, I’m not alone in neglecting my rest. The Lord addressed it through His prophet, Isaiah. “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling. . .” Isaiah 30:15 (ESV).
This verse is convicting! God offers us so much in our rest, yet we are quick to turn our back, believing we can accomplish more in our own strength. He wants to do more than provide for our rest, He wants to be our rest. By connecting and abiding in Him, thorough His Word and in prayer, we can find refreshing rest in His presence.
Spiritual Growth Through Rest
As we work to sprout our spiritual growth, let’s make a conscious effort to rest our bodies, minds, and spirits. On top of adopting some of the practices we’ve outlined in this series (time in His Word, meditation, and worship), schedule a real, actual day off and rest. Your rest can look a lot different than being a couch potato. You might decide to sleep late or take a nap, but you’ll also find rest as you get out and do something you enjoy—something that’s not part of work or a project on your “to-do” list.
Rest is a wonderful practice that helps us keep God as a high priority in our lives and avoid making our tasks an inadvertent idol. But rest often takes intentional focus. It certainly doesn’t flow into our lives naturally, so we must actively pursue it to enjoy it’s wonderful benefits.
May you embrace the joy of the Lord today,
Springtime brings one of my favorite things—songbirds. Their lovely melodies thrill my heart, especially the meadowlarks. It’s not a far stretch to imagine that they lift their voice to the Lord in praise. After all, Psalm 150:6 says, “let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
If the birds can praise Him, so must we. What a lovely way to sprout our spiritual growth.
In today’s noisy world, it’s easy to forget that we can worship God wherever we are and in whatever we do. Of course, we can worship on Sunday, but we can also praise Him while folding laundry, changing diapers, driving to work, having a lunch meeting, or helping children with their schoolwork. Our praise can take on many forms, like quiet meditation or writing, generosity, serving, speaking, or singing about Who the Lord is and all He has done.
Regardless of our method, heartfelt worship is essential to sprouting our spiritual growth and deepening our connection to God. And we needn’t save our worship for Sundays.
What Happens When We Worship God?
As we lift up our voice in praise, the Bible reveals several things that happen:
- Psalm 22:3 tells us that the Lord inhabits the praise of His people.
- Through praise to the King, we enter His gates and courts (Psalm 100:4).
- Exaltation of the King invites His response as He accepts our praise offering.
- He captures and consumes our attention as our focus shifts from ourselves to the One worthy of adoration.
- The light of the Lord casts out all darkness (Psalm 139:11-12) so that we can have uninterrupted, unhindered time with Him, enjoying the satisfaction that comes through such wondrous communion.
I don’t know about you, but I long for the Lord’s involvement throughout my week and praising His holy name invites His presence and power. One of my favorite Bible events shows this perfectly.
The Power of Worship
In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat learned that a vast number of enemies were coming to fight. He was afraid (naturally—I would be too), and verse 3 tells us that he “resolved to seek the Lord.” He and his people fasted and then declared adoration to God. In response, the Lord caused His Spirit to fall on a man named Jahaziel and said, “You do not have to fight this battle…I am with you” (vv 14-15). Wow. Can you imagine the peace and assurance that brought?
In the morning when it was time to face their enemies, Jehoshaphat “appointed some to sing for the LORD and some to praise the splendor of His holiness. When they went out in front of the armed forces, they kept singing” (verse 21, HCSB).
Here’s the amazing part. When the people lifted their voices in praise, the Lord set an ambush against their enemies and defeated them. The enemies turned on one another and destroyed each other. And it happened, “The moment they began their shouts and praises” (verse 22). That’s not a coincidence. If we don’t believe that God moves through our praise, we should take a much closer look at the Scriptures and watch more intently in our own lives.
Let’s not save our worship on Sunday, but praise Him with all our might, in spirit, and in truth, just as Jesus instructed in John 4:24. It’s sure to sprout our spiritual growth, draw us deeper into His presence, and enrich our abiding connection with God.
May you embrace the Lord’s joy today –
I adore spring. The world is alive with the hope of new beginnings and fresh starts.
After a long winter (this year our Colorado winter stretched all the way to May) the newness of spring is a reminder of the redeeming work of Christ. No matter how cold and bleary our past, He makes a way for renewal and hope. Jesus reminds us, regardless of how far we feel we’ve drifted from an abiding connection to Him, that He is steadfast and longs to draw us close once again. I love that.
I’ve recently come out of one of those hazy, blustery seasons of life and I yearn for a fresh start. My connection with God seemed to hang on by a thread and I struggled to feel His nearness or discern His promptings. I was in a season of spiritual winter, to be sure.
Stepping into spring and renewal inspires me greatly. Suddenly, I feel alive and rejuvenated, ready to take on the world. More importantly, I’m ready to reprioritize my walk with Jesus. Intentionally and on purpose. Care to join me?
Sprouting Spiritual Growth
I know what you’re thinking. It’s May. Things are crazy busy this time of year. Is this the best time to make new commitments?
Oh, my sister, yes. Yes it is. Our commitment to Christ is the most precious gift in our lives and leaving it untended will cost us dearly. The blessings of abiding are more than we can imagine so let’s reach out and grab hold. Let’s allow our spiritual growth to sprout again and take root. We don’t have to spend hours a day pulling weeds from our spiritual gardens. Drawing close to God is a little like breathing. It’s something we do all day, every day, alongside every other activity we face.
A 15-Minute Challenge
Could you commit, say, 15 minutes a day to focused, Christ-centered activity? Maybe give up a hand of solitaire on your smartphone or choose a messy bun instead of grabbing the curling iron. I know you can find a quarter of an hour at least 5 or 6 days a week.
Last month I decided to read 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb each day. It took me less than 15 minutes each day. Most days I picked up my Bible and read before starting my daily to-do’s. Sometimes I read while I rocked my sleeping granddaughter or while my grandson played with his toys next to me. I’ll admit, there were a few days where I didn’t get it done, but most days I did. And you know what? Just that little bit of time in God’s Word stirred my heart and poured hope and truth into my dry, dusty heart. As they say, a little goes a long way and I’m enjoying the process again this month.
Will you accept the challenge to read 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb each day for the month of May? Let’s band together and give God’s Word our focus and attention for a few daily minutes.
I hope you’ll join me! If you’re up for the challenge will you let me know? Let me know on Facebook or Instagram and I’ll be happy to pray for you during the journey. I know you’ll love it and the joy it brings to your jumbled life.
May God’s Word strengthen you today,
“All the outs in free!”
We shouted those words so that our friends could hear from their hiding places: from under trees, behind laundry piles, inside dog houses, or disguised beneath a collection of blankets. We’d search for and find many of our chums, but there was generally one in our game of hide and seek that went undiscovered. Yelling the familiar chant let the outstanding hiders know that they could step into visibility without penalty.
As I think back to the frustrating task of finding someone who did not want to be found, it makes me glad that Jesus doesn’t hide from us. Yes, there are times when I feel I can’t find Him. He feels absent from my life, as if He’s taken a “hands-off approach” and left me to my own devices. As I wrote in my last post, the process of searching for Immanuel can feel long and arduous.
In these seasons, we must intentionally dig deeper to find the fertile soil beneath our clay hearts. It’s there that Christ remains alive, active, and ever-present.
We may weep and lament as we search for Him, but through the process of searching, we find. That’s when the joy comes. That’s when we discover fullness of joy in His presence. In the journey of finding, we often recall what we already knew. We find truths that we encountered before.
The process of finding helps us to not simply know, but to know again.
As we seek what is hidden, the process of remembering proves a valuable tool. When I searched for my best friend in our childhood game, if I remembered how much she loved dogs and tended to hide somewhere close to them, I could spy her out almost instantly.
By calling to mind—remembering—what I already know about Christ, I can also find Him more readily.
As I actively remember— things like His character revealed throughout the Bible, or the promises He declares in His Word, the blessings He lavished upon me in the past, or victories and freedom that He helped me attain—suddenly I can see His subtle fingerprints in my life. My eyes open to things that He is doing right now. I begin to identify ways that He is moving in my current trials and circumstances.
When you can’t see God’s activity, you might begin to feel hopeless. Come and discover His active involvement in your life today with the Bible study: Victorious
The Christmas Story
The story of Christ and His birth in Scripture recounts many who found Jesus through a process of active searching. They took the time and trouble to recall the promises and truths of God’s Word, which provided a type of roadmap leading to the discovery of Immanuel.
The wise men depicted in Matthew chapter 2 are believed to have traveled over 800 miles in their search for Jesus. Talk about a long journey! In the process, they examined promises of God’s Word and followed the star that led their way. When they found Jesus, Matthew 2:9-11 tells us that they were overjoyed beyond measure and fell to their knees in worship.
Angels revealed the Word of the Lord to unsuspecting shepherds during the night. Through this miraculous announcement, the shepherds were compelled to seek Jesus. In doing so, they discovered for themselves the good news of great joy.
Finding Through Remembering
We, too, can remember the word of the Lord and His activity in our lives, which will help us find Immanuel when we are compelled to seek Him.
Active remembering can take on many forms:
Present day memorial stones help us recall the Lord’s involvement and provision. Reminders like photographs of special, spiritual milestones call the Lord’s mighty work to the forefront of our memories. Embellishing and decorating our homes with Bible verses keeps our hearts focused on Him. We can document our experiences in writing through letters or emails to loved ones, journals, or even blogs.
Prayer and Meditation
Prayer and meditation allow us to draw near to God with a true heart, in full assurance of our faith (see Hebrews 10:24). After encountering the shepherds and hearing of their angelic experience, Matthew 2:19 tell us that Mary meditated on these things. She treasured the truth in her heart. The psalms are also filled with examples of recalling and pondering on the mighty works of the Lord.
Communion and Worship
Communion is a practice that, as the Bible teaches, is a specific act of remembrance. We remember the work of Jesus on the cross, the power of His blood, and His ultimate sacrifice.
Worship is certainly a practice that calls to memory the promises, freedom, and victories that the Lord gives. I love to belt out old songs that helped carry me through difficult times. I also cherish the new songs that quench my thirsty soul and help me focus on the Lord’s character. The shepherds who found Jesus praised God for the fulfillment of the promises and for all they’d seen and heard. We’re wise to do the same.
As we face difficult trials and situations that make us question, “Where is God in this?” we do well to recall that He remains near. When we seek, we will find Immanuel, God with us. We’ll discover that His promises still stand. We’ll learn to see God’s subtle fingerprints as readily as His indisputable miracles. And we’ll remember that He is with us always.
May God’s Word strengthen you today,