| Article by Sandra Bretschneider |
Have you ever cried tears of frustration during your Bible study time?
I remember the first time I attempted the inductive Bible study method.
This was not the kind of Bible study that I was used to. There were no books involved with questions for me to answer.
All I had was a Bible passage to read for the week, which was broken down into several verses for each day.
Throughout the week, I would read a verse, write down my observations, draw some application, and pray about what I read.
Then, I connected online with other women around the country, and together, we shared what God was teaching us each day.
The only thing was, I secretly struggled to find anything meaningful or applicable in the text.
What I thought would be simple didn’t seem so simple, and after a while, I became frustrated.
I kept rereading verses, attempting to pull some meaning from them, and trying my best to figure out how to apply it to my life.
Until finally, in a moment of frustration, tears began rolling down my cheeks and dripping onto the pages of my Bible.
I felt ridiculous.Have you ever cried tears of frustration during your Bible study time?
Bible study had become a thing to do, another box to check off my list, and sadly, another prideful ambition.
I was jealous when the other women in my online group shared meaningful application from a verse that I stared at for what seemed like an hour.
No wonder I was frustrated!
I was studying my Bible, but missing the point of Bible study.
John 5:39-40 says, ” You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.”
In my desire to keep up with the rest of the ladies in my small group, I failed to remember that the purpose of Bible study is to fellowship with our Creator. I had become like the Pharisees who studied Scripture as a religious duty.
Whenever Bible study becomes a frustration, we need to take a step back and figure out why it’s frustrating.
I believe God will reveal the source of our Bible study frustrations if we ask Him.
Over the years, as I learned to focus my Bible study efforts on true fellowship with God, I discovered five practical steps that helped me overcome my Bible study frustrations.Over the years, as I learned to focus my Bible study efforts on true fellowship with God, I discovered five practical steps that helped me overcome my Bible study frustrations.
1. Combat Bible Study Frustrations by Delighting in the Lord
The glorious gospel gives us a reason to delight in the Lord! Jesus made a way for us to have a relationship with God (Hebrews 10:19-22).
Each day we have the opportunity to draw near to the Creator of the Universe, the only One who knows us fully and intimately.
Studying the Bible is the means to know Jesus more and delight in who He is!
If we want to delight in the Lord as we read Scripture, we must look for Him on the pages of His living and active Word.
We must approach Bible study differently. Instead of approaching it as a religious duty, we should see it as an opportunity to know God more—and delight in the truth He reveals to us each day!If we want to delight in the Lord as we read Scripture, we must look for Him on the pages of His living and active Word.
2. Combat Bible Study Frustrations with Prayer
We were made to seek God, and we are able to seek Him through His Word and in prayer. As Christians, we can’t take this fellowship with Him lightly.
In John 15:5 ESV, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
It’s essential to pray to the Lord right at the beginning and invite Him into our time of study.
And we shouldn’t stop praying as we continue to read and study!
Psalm 119:18 ESV says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” If we want to gain understanding from reading God’s Word, we must ask Him for it.
3. Combat Bible Study Frustrations by Asking Questions
When I’m reading a difficult passage, I often pause for a moment and ask God a few questions about it.
Some of my most common questions to ask in prayer are:
- What do You want to show me here?
- What am I missing from this passage?
- What does this verse mean?
- What does this tell me about You?
- How can I apply this to my life?
It’s amazing how much more I will glean from a passage of Scripture after asking God for help.If we want to gain understanding from reading God’s Word, we must ask Him for it.
4. Combat Bible Study Frustrations with Patience
As we study the Bible, it’s important to remember that this is a lifelong process.
All of us will spend a lifetime trying to comprehend the fullness of God’s Word, but that shouldn’t discourage us from reading it.
Even a small measure of understanding is enough to help guide and direct us on our path.
As we consistently set aside time to read Scripture, we can confidently expect the Holy Spirit to teach us new things from His Word.
Although I don’t always feel like I am growing in my ability to study and understand Scripture, I have made definite progress over the past decade.
The process of growing and developing our Bible study skills takes time.
We may not fully comprehend a particular Bible passage right away, but if we are patient to seek out answers, the Holy Spirit may reveal deeper truth to us in time.The best thing we can do to combat Bible study frustrations is to be intentional about consistently reading our Bibles.
5. Combat Bible Study Frustrations with Intentionality
The best thing we can do to combat Bible study frustrations is to be intentional about consistently reading our Bibles.
Over time, as we ask the Lord for help, He will grow our abilities.
Psalm 119:130 ESV says, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”
Another way we can intentionally develop Bible study skills is by connecting with outside resources.
Two of my favorite resources that helped me develop my inductive study skills include the “Look at the Book” resource from Desiring God and the book “Living by the Book” by Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks.
Moving Forward with Fewer Bible Study Frustrations
Over the years, the Lord has developed my Bible study skills, but most importantly, He’s helped me to see that studying the Bible is about knowing Him more.
By the Spirit’s leading, I now approach it differently than I did years ago, and the Lord has grown me in many ways.
But most especially, I can recount numerous moments spent with Him, pouring over His Words, and basking in His truth. These have been such sweet times with the Lord.
I wouldn’t trade these intimate moments with Him for anything in the world.
In every Bible study endeavor, we must remember that studying the Bible is about knowing Jesus more fully.In every Bible study endeavor, we must remember that studying the Bible is about knowing Jesus more fully.
It’s about seeing more of Him on the pages of His living and active Word. It’s about learning about His character and ways and growing to trust His promises. It’s about beholding His glorious grace, page after page.
We were made to seek God, to know Him and to delight in who He is.
Let’s move forward—past our frustrations, with the Spirit’s help — and press on to pursue the One who is worthy of adoration and praise!
“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3 ESV
Sandra Bretschneider enjoys pursuing outdoor adventures with her husband and three young daughters. She is a writer and speech-language pathologist who is passionate about helping other women dive deeper into God’s Word. She holds a certificate in biblical studies, which equipped her to write several “Going Deeper Guides” as a creative partner for Living by Design Ministries. Her book, “Knowing the Shepherd: A Names of God Bible Study for Moms” is designed to help women develop a deeper understanding of God’s character. You can also connect with Sandra on Instagram.