Preparing: The 5 W’s and an H of Preparing to Study Your Bible

I realized one thing in my Inductive Bible Study Training videos…. I didn’t talk very much about the physical side of where to do it, when to do it, etc.  So this post is going to give you some generic ideas on those things.  This is a take-off of the “5 W’s and an H” that is used when doing the observation phase of the Inductive Bible Study method, but here I’m using that idea to cover the concept of preparing to so the study.

Speaking of the training videos, hopefully most of you have looked at the training videos we did at our church on the Inductive Bible Study Method.  If not, please check them out when you have time.  You can see all of them posted on this page in the blog… Click Here.
There are 10 videos that are about an hour long each.  It is a good chunk of time to sit and watch, but it isn’t designed to do it in one setting.  The classes were given in a one-hour session each week for a total of 10 weeks.  This allows some time for you to do the homework between classes.  Don’t feel like you have to complete it in exactly 10 weeks – that’s why I did the videos – so you can do it at your own pace.  If you have any questions about the training classes, please feel free to leave me a comment and I would be happy to answer you.


While this may seem pretty elementary and self-explanatory, there is one very important factor that we should not and cannot overlook. Yes, the obvious answer is you.  You have to be willing to do this.  However, we cannot forget that we have to invite God into our study time.  Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you… to guide you… and to speak to you as you are studying your Bible.  Always begin your studies with prayer… ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you and to teach you whatever God wants to bring to you.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” 
 – John 14:26 (ESV)


The question of “what” could be applied to many areas regarding preparing to do your studies.  One example would be to know what tools you need.  This can be a VERY personal choice/decision.  Obviously a good Bible is key.  Ideally a Bible that does NOT have a bunch of study notes in it from other people.  The idea in this process is that you do to work for yourself and not rely on someone else to do the work for you.
With that said, not all people like to mark up their Bibles like you do with the Inductive Bible Study method.   Not that there is anything wrong with doing not wanting to mark up your Bible, but sometimes, I can be that way.    So, my solution is to go to some online tool (,, etc.) and pull up the section you are studying and copy it and paste it into Microsoft Word or some other tool and then double space it and print it out.  The double spacing helps me to allow plenty of room for my markings and graphics and such.

Reference materials for when you get into the Interpretation phase are important – Bible Dictionaries and Bible Encyclopedias, Bible Atlases, etc.  Some people like to use online tools to do this while some like to use physical books to do this.  My preference is physical books, but with work, I travel quite a bit and when traveling, I will use the online tools (my preference is as my primary source followed by  There are MANY online tools and if any of you come across others that you like, please leave me a comment and let me know what they are so I can check them out.

Commentaries for when you are done with your Interpretation phase to sense check your work

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance can be good to use for looking up original language for example. You can do this on many of the online tools as well.

I really like the IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament and IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament.  These commentaries do a wonderful job giving the culture and background of what we read in Scripture and try for the most part to leave the interpretation portion up to the reader.  These two books are very good tools to use during the Interpretation phase to help understand some of the cultural side and background to what we are reading.

There are so many more… too many to list right for this posting.  I will work on a post for what tools (online and physical) that I have in my study library and do a post sometime soon.


“Where” is actually a very important topic.  You really need to find a place that is free from distractions.  You may have to get a little creative with the location.  Just find somewhere that allows you to concentrate on the Word of God.  It may be a separate room in the house that is quiet.  Or if you don’t get distracted very easily, it can be another less quiet location.  Personally, I get distracted easily so I have to find a quiet location to do my studies.  My location is in the basement at my house where I have an office-type desk.  If I’m on the road traveling for work, then it’s easier because I can simply do it in my hotel room in the evenings.  Much like right now as I write this from my hotel room in the Columbus, OH area.  🙂

Distractions are all around us… if you use your computer for your studies, then don’t have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. running.  Shut them down as well as shutting off your phone.  If you use your phone apps for studying, go into airplane mode so you won’t get calls or texts during this time.  Don’t have the TV on as that can cause major distractions.  If you’re like me, I can’t have any music playing because that will distract me – even soft prayerful music.  Overall, find somewhere that allows you to focus on God and His Word.


This is very personal decision. Some people prefer to do this in the early morning, some late at night.  It all depends on your preferences and personality and when you have time that you can slot in.  For some it is when the kids are in bed or before they wake up.  For others it is at a different time of the day.  The importance is that you try to set a specific time and don’t let that time get interrupted with busy things as I mentioned in the previous section

As far as how long to spend at a given time on your studies… pray and ask God how long you should start with.  Maybe it’s 5 minutes, maybe 15, maybe 30.  Listen to the Holy Spirit and be open to adjusting how long you set aside as He leads.  If you’re like me, you will find yourself wanting to do longer sessions the more you do it.  This is a discipline and will take time to fall into the routine.  Don’t give up quickly on doing this.


The ultimate goal that we should have any time we go to the Word of the Lord is for us to be changed.  This doesn’t mean getting smart or just knowledgeable about the Bible.  There are many very intelligent scholars and even seminary professors that know a lot about God and the Bible; however they may just have head knowledge.  Their lives may not have been changed, or transformed.  How does a life get transformed?… well, if we turn to Scripture and read in Romans we find that it is through the renewing of our minds that we are transformed.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
 – Romans 12:2 (ESV)

The word “transformed” in the Greek is “metamorphoō” and it means “to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure“.  Referencing the world’s way of incorrect thinking here, we have to replace that incorrect way of thinking with God’s truth.  To do this, we have to go to the only source of God’s truth which is His revealed Word in the Bible.  This transformation comes from getting a renewed mind as we are constantly (very important word) exposed to God’s Word. Then we have to not only be exposed to it, but we have to be doers of the Word.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
 – James 1:19-25

Also make sure to pray to the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to apply His Word to your life.  God is very creative – He can show each person how to individually apply His Word to their lives as it pertains to them.

I’m going to be honest with you on this point – There are no shortcuts to this life-long process. There is no magical pill that we can take to have our minds renewed automatically. We have to fill our minds with the Word of the Lord and we have to read AND study His Word.


Well, this one is pretty easy to say, but can be more challenging to do it.  I say that because most (if not all) of us tend to get pretty busy with life.  Often, the first thing to get pushed back with the normal “I’ll get to that a little later” comment is our Bible studies.  Nike has a saying that most of us probably know very well… “Just do it.”  That saying can apply very easily to our Bible studies.  But putting that into action isn’t as easy.

Often we get too busy with things and neglect this very important step in our Christian life.  We can even justify that we are “too busy” with ministry related things to have time to do it.  If we are honest with ourselves for just a few moments, we can summarize it in this one sentence…. “If something is a priority in your life, you will make time for it, but if it is not a priority in your life, you will make excuses why you don’t have time to do it”.  It is a very true statement, because we tend to do what is closest to our hearts.

My friends, pray to the Lord and ask him to help make studying His Word a priority in your life and then watch Him give you a desire like you have never had before.  With a strong desire, it will become a priority.  When it is a priority in your life, you will make it happen.  Maybe other things will become less of a priority allowing time to do your studies.   Francis Chan has a wonderful illustration that helps us to put things into the correct priorities.  It is called “The Rope” illustration.  Here is a link to a YouTube video of it: Click Here.  May we truly look at our days on earth and learn to number them in accordance to eternity so we will focus on the important things rather than the busy things.  🙂

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
  – Psalm 90:12



I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please leave me a comment below and let me know.  I would greatly appreciate hearing from my readers.  Thanks and God bless!!!!
Please leave a comment or question and I will try to respond a.s.a.p.
– Michael

This entry was posted in Bible Study, Bible Study Resources, Context, Culture, Customs,, Inductive Bible Studies, Study Bible, Studying, Themes, Training Classes, Word Studies. Bookmark the permalink.

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