How to Study the Bible with your Head Not Your Heart

Raise your hand if you have a Bible but don’t really know how to read it, or understand it.

Raise your hand if you feel like you have a “Sunday School” understanding of the Bible.

Raise your hand if you just need something new to do during your quiet time.

If you raised your hand for any of these, this is for you!

My Why

Reading your Bible is something most Christians know they should be doing, but I feel like I rarely see a guide as to what it should look like to study the Bible.

Do you just open the Bible and read?

Do you follow a devotionals?

Do you journal?

These are all things to consider when thinking about reading your Bible.

I got the idea for this post, because I personally have had a desire to have a better contextual understanding of the Bible. As much as I have been in church, I don’t feel like I understand the context for the different books or the thread that connects all the stories.

Another catalyst for wanting to better my understanding, is Jen Wilkins’ book Women of the Word. In the book she talks about the fact that we as women often read the Bible driven by passion and emotion, but that we aren’t always good about studying the Bible with the purpose of truly knowing God’s word. She provides practical tips and has really motivated me to transform the way I approach reading the Bible and pushed me to study the Bible.

From the Book

“The second thing I got backwards in my approach to the Bible was the belief that my heart should guide my study. The heart, as it is spoken of in Scripture, is the seat of the will and emotions. It is our “feeler” and our “decision-maker.” Letting my heart guide my study meant that I looked for the Bible to make me feel a certain way when I read it. I wanted it to give me peace, comfort, or hope. I wanted it to make me feel closer to God.    -Jen Wilkins

“We must love God with our minds, allowing our intellect to inform our emotions, rather than the other way around.” -Jen Wilkins

Creating a Study Plan

So knowing this, I have created a new study plan for myself that I think maybe helpful if you are stuck in your Bible study plan, or you’re new to all this and just need somewhere to start!

Decide what book of the Bible to read. This is up to you. Start at Genesis, or start somewhere in the New Testament. Due to my goal of trying to understand the whole story of the Bible I chose Isaiah because I feel like that is where my understanding starts to get a little hazy. 

Find a notebook/journal/paper. You’re going to need something to record your notes. Find something and I’ll get to what we are using it for next. 

Dedicate 1-2 pages for Context/History. Label the first page Context & History. After you have chosen your book of the Bible you need to start researching what was going on historically, who wrote the book, what their history and family history is. Of course you can just start googling and reading, but I think The Bible Project is an even better place to start. They use animated videos to provide historical contexts to all the books in the Bible. In addition, they have links to Suggested Reading to help guide your next steps. 

bible journaling

Dedicate 1-2 pages each for each chapter of the book. So I reserve about one page for notes for each chapter of the book. Here is the thing, I separate the page into three columns: 

  • Chapter 1 Notes – general notes about this chapter
  • My Life – how does this chapter apply to my life and the greater society
  • About Jesus – what does this chapter teach me about the Lord?

bible journaling


That last part is really the meat of it all. Going through those three sections help me think through how this chapter builds upon the history I learned about and just general notes. It helps me reflect on my own life, my own actions, and my own sins. Lastly, it forces me to think about the God I serve. A God of forgiveness, a God of judgement, a God that saves, etc. The ultimate goal is to try to make “my life” more like the Lord’s.

Each night this only takes me about 10-15 minutes. Some nights I find myself journaling more, or writing out a prayer I want to repeat throughout the week. But it does not have to be an extended period of time, it just needs to be purposeful, which is why I have really loved using this format.

How do you study the Bible? Do you think something like this could work for you?

Also, if all of this Jesus stuff is new to you, and you want to know more please leave a comment below, email me, DM on instagram, whatever,  I would love to share more!

lysse on life

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  • Reply Rose Hu

    Great system for studying the Bible! I prefer to use prewritten bible studies, even though they’re usually meant for groups. When I was younger I read the Bible as if it was just a story, with little contemplation or deep thought. Now that I’m taking part in regular Bible study discussions and also studying on my own, I feel like I have a much better grasp on the nature and teachings of God. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    March 20, 2018 at 12:16 pm
    • Reply Alysse

      I too use a lot of pre-written studies, but I was starting to worry that I was relying on what other people were saying and not truly thinking and discovering for myself. I am really excited to start doing another group bible study because I feel like that setting is where I learn so much!

      March 23, 2018 at 1:19 pm

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