Yesterday I shared with you the Bible study notecards Lisa gave me and a couple of tips to go along with them. Today we’ll talk a bit more about the second tip:

Mix It Up.

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned student of God’s Word, I encourage you to try new Bible study practices. As you try different ones, you quickly discover which are your favorites and which you prefer to skip and perhaps never think about again! Let me remind you, we don’t know what works best for us unless we try different ones, so brave the awkwardness of some of the methods and you may be surprised what you discover about your learning style.

Preferences are fine. Since attempting all of the methods and learning which work best for me and my brain, I now study the same way about 90% of the time. But I challenge myself to mix it up every once in a while and try something new – maybe even one of the methods I don’t like all that much. I do this for a couple of reasons:

1.) It stretches our minds when we look at Scripture from a viewpoint that isn’t easy for us, and in the stretching we often learn something or see God in a new light that we might have otherwise missed had we stuck with the comfortable. I learned about this from my mom. As a long-time and faithful student of the Word, she always hated journaling. HATED it. She’d hear people talk about journaling as a good Bible study tool, and she’d rather have banged her head against the wall than write out her thoughts in complete sentences! It just wasn’t her thing.

But she decided that all of these people talking about hearing from God through journaling His Word must be on to something, so she decided, against her every inclination of desire, to begin journaling one day a week. This was a great way to keep it small but still challenge herself to study in a new way. And what she discovered through the discipline of journaling was a whole new way of hearing and interacting with God that has since become one of the sweetest joys in her spiritual life, though still not her “favorite.”  It became a significant part – though not the main part – of her study time, and its impact reached further than she expected.

Several years ago, as she was reading through the Bible in a year, she chose to journal just one verse every day. A little backstory: that was a hard year for us. My husband was dealing with unemployment, and it affected our entire family. But thanks to her discipline in the uncomfortable, my mother has this written-down record of all the ways God daily spoke to her as she carried our burdens for those months. Many times she shared pieces of it with us, and whenever she did, the encouragement He spoke to her through journaling always arrived on the days we all needed to hear it. Every journal entry she shared, sometimes in retrospect, always proved timely and perfect for whatever we were enduring that day. Beyond that immediate blessing, my mom was able to use that year’s journal entries as devotional material for the next year. In the year that followed, she began her daily study time by re-reading the previous year’s journal entry for that day and experiencing the comfort mined from seeing God’s hand in her life – in our whole family’s life – and remembering his faithfulness.

See how rich of an experience journaling became? Does she like it enough to do it all the time? No, I don’t think so. But sometimes the ones we resist the hardest are the ones that can teach us the most. 

Bible study methods

2.) Our individual learning styles might morph over time, and we may not discover the difference unless we revisit previous study methods. I’ve seen that within a few short years, my preferences have changed quite a bit. Some of the ones I disliked at first have become new favorites, and I wouldn’t have known had I not tried them again at a later time. A new season can make a big difference.  I do believe we each have certain pathways to learning that we come by more naturally, and we can celebrate that. I’m a words-girl, so methods involving looking at language and word definitions appeal. That’s my thing. These individual preferences reflect just how purposefully God designed us to individually hear from him, and that calls for thanks. Just don’t completely ignore the other ones; you never know – God could have a new pathway to cultivate in your heart and mind!

Bible study grace 31 days

Linked up with Write 31 Days, all posts in this series can be found by clicking the button above. Come back tomorrow to learn about my favorite resource for understanding context of what’s in Scripture.