Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
It is the beginning of a new year, and I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely determined to spend more time with God in His Word—not just reading it and not just to check it off my to-do list, but to actually engage with Him and listen to see what He wants to share with me this year. Has He laid that desire on your heart, as well?
But I know that sometimes, I get stuck in what to actually do in my quiet time with Him. Sometimes I need something to help me do more than just read, but to engage with what I’m reading. To understand it. To reflect on it. To listen for His nudges and invitations to me as I read.
And so I wanted to kick off this year exploring 10 different ways to encounter God in His Word. These are practical, tangible things you can put into practice in your own time with the Lord.
I don’t recommend you do them all right away at the same time, but listen and see which ones pique your interest and then try them on and see how they work for you. I imagine you’ll gravitate toward two or three of them based on your personality, your schedule, and just how God has designed you to meet with Him.
Okay, are you ready? I have broken the ten different methods up into a few different categories, and there is some overlap here, especially at the end. But I thought that would help us understand different ways we can come to His Word—again, with the intention of engaging with God and encountering Him there.
Inductive Bible Study
The first category is inductive Bible study. With inductive study, you are looking at a specific passage of Scripture and really paying attention to what it says and what it has to teach us today. If you’ve heard of the Navigators or Precept Ministries International, this is what they really focus on and teach.
So when you sit down to do an inductive study, it typically falls into three parts: observation, interpretation, and application.
You start by observing: what does the text actually say? Here, you pay attention to the words, the phrases being used. Next, you move into interpretation. What does the text mean? Finally, you end with application. What does the passage mean for me?
Another popular method today that falls within this inductive Bible study method is the SOAP study, “soap” being an acronym for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. Horacio Printing offers some SOAP Bible studies, but really, you can do this on your own in a notebook or journal.
If you have Bible studies that go through a book of a Bible, they are often inductive studies. You take it verse by verse and see what you can learn from it.
Deductive Bible Study
The second category is deductive Bible study. So while inductive Bible study goes from specific to general, deductive Bible study goes from general to specific. In other words, inductive starts with a specific Bible passage, but deductive starts with a general idea, and then you look to see what the Bible says about it.
This is often called topical Bible study. If you want to learn about finances or relationships or business or even something like love or peace, you can look up all the Bible verses that have to do with that specific topic and see what the Bible has to say about it.
Some Bible studies are like this. For example, if you wanted to study angels, you can find a Bible study that walks you through all the Bible passages that speak to angels, and probably do it in a fairly organized way, looking at the different types and their roles, and things like that.
This can be seen as a “search-style” Bible study. “What does the Bible have to say about [blank]?” It’s what we would type into a search bar online. We often lean toward this when there’s an area we really want to grow in or learn more about.
Daily Grace Co. is a company I love that offers a lot of different options when it comes to Bible study, and they offer both inductive and deductive studies. In other words, they have some that go through books of the Bible and others that are more topical in nature.
Kelly Minter is another favorite of mine, and she offers both types, too.
Contemplative Bible Study
The third category is contemplative Bible study. With contemplative Bible study, you are essentially slowing down and entering into the text in some way. It’s almost more like a reading than it is a study.
There are a lot of practices that fall under this category.
Lectio divina is a slow reading of a Bible passage where you read through the same passage a few times and see what word or phrase speaks most to you. It’s almost like a savoring of Scripture.
Journaling can also be a contemplative practice as you reflect on what you’re reading and talk to God about it. This is especially good for those of us who process through writing. We can write out our thoughts to God, almost like a prayer, asking Him questions, asking ourselves questions, and see what He has to say back to us.
Imaginative prayer is a practice where you read through the Bible passage and actually try to imagine being there, like you’re a fly on the wall, watching it all unfold in front of you. You try to see the people right there in front of you. You might even relate to one of the characters and “enter into” the story from their point of view. For me, this is a lot like when I read a fiction book and I “enter into” the story as the main character. I feel what they feel, I experience what they experience.
If this is something you’re curious about, I have a digital devotional called Imagine, and I use this imaginative prayer technique to write devotions that help you enter in. You can grab that in our shop at lovedoesthat.org/shop.
Finally, Scripture writing is another way to slow down and contemplate a Bible passage. With Scripture writing, you are hand-copying a Bible passage onto another sheet of paper. You do it slowly, with intention and focus, asking God to speak to you through His Word.
I actually have my Scribe Bible Study and Workshop where we talk more about Scripture writing and how we can learn from the scribes from the Bible, the men who actually hand-copied God’s Word so we’d have copies of it today. It has a very casual feel to it, but if you like a bit of Bible history partnered with practical application, you are going to love it. You can grab that in our shop at lovedoesthat.org/shop.
Creative Bible Study
The last category is creative Bible study, where you use some sort of creative practice to dive deeper into His Word. Again, there are several practices that can fit here.
Art is probably the most obvious. After reading a Bible passage, you continue to think and pray about it, and while you do that, you’re painting or drawing or putting together a collage or something like that. It doesn’t matter if your art is realistic in form or more abstract, it’s just using some art form to reflect and pray.
Bible journaling can also fit here. With Bible journaling, you often hand-letter Bible verses or create small art pieces on the pages of your Bible or on a separate Bible journal notebook. This has been really popular over the past several years, to the point that there are special Bibles designed just for this.
Okay, so here are a couple more ways to encounter God in His Word that combine a couple of the methods above.
One is verse mapping. Simply put, verse mapping is a way of diagramming a Bible passage and comparing different translations, really looking at the words each one uses, studying them, and learning what they mean. Then you consider what those words would have meant to the original audience and then what they mean for us today. So while you are diving into a specific text, using inductive Bible study, you are also mapping it out in a creative kind of way.
And finally, there is color coding. With color coding, you use different colors to highlight different things as you read through the Bible. For example, everything that describes God is highlighted in yellow while commands are highlighted in blue. Then, as you look back at what you read, you can see at a glance what you are learning and really take it to heart.
If you want to learn more about color coding, I encourage you to check out the Bible Study Made Simple podcast, where Eva Kubasiak helps you figure out a color-coding system. She actually has an entire course on this and I know that she is really passionate about helping women study God’s Word. Again, that’s the Bible Study Made Simple podcast.
Three Invitations for You
So there are at least ten ways you can encounter God in His Word. Let me run through that list one more time: inductive Bible study, like the SOAP Bible study method; deductive Bible study; contemplative Bible study, like lectio divina, journaling, imaginative prayer, and Scripture writing; creative Bible study, like art and Bible journaling; and then some combination methods, like verse mapping and color coding.
I know this was a really high-level view of each of these, so, if you want dive deeper and explore them together, I have some special invitations for you.
Soul Care Group
First, this year, I am starting a Soul Care Group. This is a virtual group where you will receive an email every month walking you through one or two of these spiritual practices. It will be like sitting down with me for 20-30 minutes and being led through them. We’ll explore some of these same practices we talked about today—art and Scripture writing and lectio divina—and more. I really am so excited about this.
What does this group cost? I’m simply asking you to pay what you can. If it’s $5, great. If it’s $20, great. You will be able to pay what you can, when you can. I’ll include a link at the bottom of each monthly email and you can use that to make a payment. But don’t let payment stop you. If you’re not able to pay right now, that’s totally okay. Sign up and be a part of the group. If you’re able to pay a little bit more to help cover someone else, I really appreciate that.
Go to lovedoesthat.org/soulcaregroup to sign up. You’ll receive the first training right away, and then additional trainings will come around the 5th of each month. Again, that’s lovedoesthat.org/soulcaregroup.
Second, on Tuesday, January 18th, I am offering a short workshop called “3 Ways to Encounter God on the Pages of Your Journal.” This is a free workshop where I will walk you through three really important things when it comes to journaling and using that as a way to grow closer to God and hear from Him. So today we talked about ways to encounter God in His Word, and in this workshop, we’re diving specifically into journaling.
To register for that, go to lovedoesthat.org/journalingworkshop. If you can’t catch it live, I’ll send you the recording.
And third, later on this year, I’ll be offering some online retreats. This will be a safe space for you to spend extended period of time in God’s presence and listening for His direction in one particular area of your life. Right now, I’m imaging this like spending the morning time together and then having some time for solitude and silence in the afternoon. And this fits well for those of us who might not be able to take a night or two away. We just set the day apart for a retreat and then regroup with our family in the evening.
I think the first retreat is going to be in May, so be sure to get on the email list and definitely keep listening to the podcast and I’ll give you more details as I’m able. You can also just shoot me an email and let me know you’re interested, and I’ll be sure to follow up with you as we get closer. You can email me at email@example.com. Remember, my name is spelled K-A-R-I.
Okay, that’s all for today, my friends. I hope and pray that God will continue to meet us on the pages of His Word as we spend time with Him. And that He will renew our souls as we do so.
Until next time…
>> Soul Care Group: Monthly email with soul care and spiritual formation practices
>> 3 Ways to Encounter God on the Pages of Your Journal Workshop: Tuesday, January 18th at 11:00am Eastern
>> Online Retreats:
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the waitlist
- Precepts Ministries International
- Horacio Printing SOAP Studies
- Daily Grace Co.
- Kelly Minter’s Bible studies
- Imagine Bible Study Devotional
- Scribe: Scripture Writing Class
- Bible Study Made Simple podcast with Eva Kubasiak
INTERESTED IN SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?
I’d be honored to walk with you through a difficult season and help you discover God’s presence and work in your life.