A friend of mine asked, after I’d published this post on spiritual practices, how I did word study and inductive study.

There are lots of people who say lots of things about this, and probably better than I will. Ordinarily I’d just direct the question that way, but October is long and I’m only halfway through it, so… sure!

Word study

When I have a topic I want to drill down into, this is how I go about it: I pull out my concordance (metaphorically—actually I open Blue Letter Bible on my phone) and search a word. Right now, I’m reading a tiny book by Beth Moore that’s based on a study of the word “pit”—how people get in them, stay in them, get out. I look at all the verses in the Bible with the word I’m searching, see what original-language words the various writers used. Is it always the same? Are there a couple different words? If there are different ones, what are the differences in nuance between them? I generally fall into a rabbit hole or two or three in this process, examining obscure stories I’d forgotten, looking at characters I want to know more about, etc. But by the time I’ve gone all the way through my list of verses and associated bunny trails, I have a fairly reasonable grasp on What the Bible Says About ____. If I want to or have reason to or if the results of my search were especially multifaceted, sometimes I’ll organize my thoughts on paper, but usually there’s not much call for it.

Inductive study

This is the form of study I do more frequently. I’ll pick a book of the Bible (frequently whatever Eric is preaching on at church) and dive in. I tend to use Precept upon Precept studies, but you don’t have to. Basically, it involves looking at the text, finding key or repeated words (often marking them, either in my Bible or, more frequently, on a double-spaced copy), seeing what’s there. In a study Bible (or in my Precepts study), there are cross-references to see what other books say about this event or this period in time. When I did a study of Esther this past summer, I kept a running list of what I knew about each of the characters, a list of details about each of the many feasts and the various decrees. I looked at the ways God (who is not mentioned) orchestrates events throughout. Frequently, this involves, again, pulling out the concordance or Bible dictionary to learn the nuances of the words being chosen. Sometimes (typically after I’ve done all the above steps) I wind up consulting commentaries. (Can I plug the BLB app again? It’s free! Concordance! Dictionaries! Cross-references! Commentaries! On your phone!)

In my regular life

Some people do this daily. When I order studies, they’re typically laid out as five days a week. I’ve tried to do this, but it hasn’t worked well for me. Rather than finding 20 minutes to half an hour a day for study, I do far better setting aside a couple hours one evening after bedtime to do it all at once. I find it takes the 20-30 minutes to just get my brain in a good space for this, so doing it daily is frustrating—it feels like drudgery for the first little bit, and then about the time I get into it, the day’s work is done. I think of both of these as analogous to “date night” study. My relationship with Andrew is enhanced by dates, but not sustained by them. Going out on dates every day would be fun, but not realistic. In the same way, I find a few hours once a week to be kind of the ideal blend of helpful and manageable.

This post doesn’t feel very exciting or story-driven, but I challenge you to try it—the Word of God is both.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 31-days-of-speaking-the-truth-1-1.png

This post is part of my series, 31 days of speaking the truth. You can find the whole list of them here on the first post of the series.

Published by robininalaska

Robin Chapman is a clumsy Jesus follower, imperfect wife and mom, normalizer of failure, and writer who captures both the gritty experience of motherhood and the grace of God as it carries her despite her (many) imperfections. Her writing is laced with humor and vulnerability, sure to make you laugh and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing you are not alone. As an editor and writer for KindredMom.com, she is a cheerleader for moms in the trenches. She educates her four children at home in Alaska, where she lives with her ridiculously good looking husband, Andrew.

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