woman sitting on the floor reading the bible.

15 Ways to Think More Deeply on the Word of God

How often do you listen to a sermon, or do your daily Bible reading, only to walk away without any idea of what you just listened to or read? That happens to me all the time! I’m notorious for not paying attention, and letting my mind wander. When I was in college, I was great at cramming for a test, getting an A on the test, and then promptly forgetting everything that I “learned.”

Now it’s true that every minute we spend in the Bible is valuable, even if we seemingly immediately forget what we heared or read. But how much better it is to think deeply on the Word of God until it completely saturates not just our minds but our hearts as well.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer you 15 ways to think more deeply on the Word of God so that it not only sticks in your head, but also changes your life.

Read in a Paper Bible

I’ll have to admit that I have long been a fan of everything digital. I read eBooks, and for years have read my Bible on my phone. I even got out of the habit of taking my Bible to church because let’s face it, since I have the Bible on my phone and since whoever is preaching usually puts the scriptures up on the slides, there doesn’t seem to be much point in using a print version of the Bible.

Having said that, just recently I decided to blow the dust off of my paper Bible, and start reading it. Somehow, I find myself engaging more deeply in the Bible now that I’m using a printed version. It’s helpful to see the words on the page, rather than on my phone where I’m subjected to constant interruptions, such as social media and email notifications.

I have found that I’m also much more likely to look up other scriptures when I have a physical Bible in my hands, flip to maps, look up things in the concordance in the back of my Bible, and so on.

Another great plus is that if anything jumps out at me, I can write a note in the margins, or underline or circle words. Now it is true that most Bible apps have an option to leave notes, to highlight, and so on, but there’s something about doing things with my own hands, the old-fashioned way, that makes it easier for things to stick.

Read It Out Loud

Another “old school” way of doing things is to read books out loud. Perhaps when you were growing up, or, as an adult with young children, you had a habit of reading stories out loud. Now, with the wonderful gift of audio books (which I do like), it’s easy to just hit play and let someone else read out loud for me.

But again, there is something about doing things the old fashioned way, and reading the text out loud.

On reason reading the text out loud is helpful is that it involves multiple senses. You are both seeing and hearing at the same time.

Look Up Words You Don’t Understand

Depending on the Bible translation you use, there may be some unfamiliar words, or things that simply don’t make any sense to you. For example, you may come across a phrase such as “The son of perdition” and if you don’t know the meaning of the word, “perdition” you’ll be lost. Looking up the meaning of the words will help you better understand the Bible. This is important, because the bottom line is that it’s hard to think deeply on something when you have no idea what it’s talking about.

Read it Multiple Times

Repetition is one of the best ways to think more deeply on the Word of God, and to saturate your mind with biblical truths.

I mentioned earlier that I’m a pro when it comes to day dreaming, and letting my mind wander. So often, the first time I read something, I just don’t get much out of it, and after reading it, can’t even tell you what it says.

The best remedy for this is to read the same thing over, and over, and over again. If your chosen book of the Bible is short, such as Philippians, you can read the entire book cover to cover, in about 15 minutes or so. Keith Ferrin recommends doing this for every day for 30 days, or until you become so familiar with the book that you can summarize it and express the main points of the book without looking.

Side note: I’m in the process of doing this with the book of Philippians for the first time. I’ll be sharing how that goes for me, so stay tuned for more details!

Summarize It

In keeping with the tip to read the book or passage of Scripture multiple times, you can test your recall by summarizing each chapter or section of the book. If you haven’t read it multiple times and are unable to do this from memory, it’s okay to “cheat” and look at it. The main idea here is to grasp all of the main points of the passage, chapter, or book of the Bible.

Write it In Your Own Words

Once you’ve written a summary of the portion of scripture, write the passage of scripture – or the entire book of the Bible if that is what you’re studying, in your own words. This is more in depth than summarizing it, but it doesn’t have to be elaborate or what I would call, “pretty prose.” At least at this stage of the game, I don’t recommend publishing your version, or reading it out loud at your next Sunday service. The goal here is to express, not impress. You simply want to take the time to express in writing each of the verses.

Write It Word for Word

Now it’s important to focus on the actual words of the text, word for word. Again, this is where handwriting wins out over typing. If you’d like, you can buy a nice journal, but notebook paper, notecards, or a spiral bound notebook all work fine. If you want to be able to take the verses with you, getting spiral bound notecards work great.

The value of writing it out word for word is that it helps you to focus on the individual words. Also, there’s something about the act of writing that helps to cement the content in your mind.

Verse Map It

Above is a partial example of a verse map that I created in Microsoft Word. No drawing required! (grab the free template for this below.)

Verse mapping is the process of jotting down bits and pieces of information on a specific verse or portion of scripture. It takes many different forms, and some people even make an art form of it, including doodles and sketches, washi tape and stickers, and more to embellish their verse maps. I tend to take a more simple approach, doing it in a Word document, and typing the information. About the only color I use are highlights to help me emphasize certain words or phrases, and so on. Here is the information that I put on my verse maps:

  • The text of the scripture in whatever version you use. I recommend using a word for word translation, such as the King James, New King James, English Standard Version, or New American Standard Version. We’ll get to some other versions in the next step.
  • Write or paste in the text from two other translations. We often get a lot of insight from other translations. Right now, I use the NJKV version for the first step, and the NLT and NIV for this step.
  • Hebrew or Greek word study using free tools like Blue Letter Bible.
  • Notes from commentaries or sermons. In this step make note of what others say about the passage of scripture.
  • Insights – record any insights you have from your study. What stood out to you? Make note of that here.
  • Application/Prayer – make note of any actions you want to take as a result of your study. Note that action can be as simple (but powerful) as prayer. If you prefer to write out your prayers, you can do it in your verse map.

Memorize It

I’m on a quest to memorize more of the Bible this year. Maybe it’s a crazy thought, but I have to admit that I have some concerns that at some point in my life, the Bible may not be as easily accessible. Even if that’s not the case, there is something powerful about memorizing scripture.

Perhaps you are a senior, like me, and find it difficult to memorize scripture. The good news is, that this isn’t a race. You don’t have to memorize as fast as other people, or as much. I have found that spending even 15 minutes a day memorizing scripture makes it easy for me to memorize more than I ever thought was possible.

Use tools like BibleMemory.com and Verse Locker to help.

Meditate on It

One of the things that I love about memorizing scripture is that it makes it easier to meditate on scripture. Meditating on scripture doesn’t have to be anything weird or complicated. It just means to think deeply on the Word of God. Mull over the verses in your mind again and again.

One technique that I like to use it to simply emphasize each word in the verse, one word at a time. Here’s what it looks like in Psalm 23:1:

  • The Lord is my shepherd – He is THE Lord
  • The Lord is my shepherd – He’s the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. He is the “owner” of all things. I can have confidence in his power to work, move, and be victorious in every situation.
  • The Lord is my shepherd – He IS my shepherd. There is no uncertainty there.
  • The Lord is my shepherd – He is MY shepherd – it’s personal! He’s not a distant God.
  • The Lord is my shepherd – He is my shepherd. He protects me and watches out for me. When I stray, he leaves the 99 and goes looking for me.

Obviously, you can go as detailed as you want with this, but just the simple act of emphasizing one word at a time helps to embed the truth of the scripture deep in my heart.

Meditating on Scripture is one of the best ways to get God’s word from your mind to your heart.

Sketch It – Even if You Can’t Draw (I’ll show you how!)

An example of sermon sketchnotes created in PowerPoint.
The above is an example of sermon sketchnotes I created in PowerPoint. Taking the time to create the sketchnotes helpmed me to internalize the main points of the sermon.

In spite of the fact that I can’t draw much of anything, using art is a way to think deeply on the Word of God.

Since I can’t draw, I use PowerPoint and a “handwriting font” to give a handwritten feel to my Bible sketchnotes. I’ve done this for both scripture memory, and for sermon notes. Just thinking through how to illustrate the passage causes me to think on the passage more deeply.

Teach it to Someone Else

Next, teaching the Bible passage you’re studying to someone else is a great way to think more deeply about it. Now, you may not consider yourself to be a teacher, but we all have an opportunity to teach, one way or another.

As an example, if you’re married and/or have children, you can talk about the verse at the dinner table. If you live alone, you can share your insights with a friend over a walk or a cup of coffee.

Another way to teach what you’re learning is through writing, or on YouTube. That’s exactly what I’m doing here, and it’s a great option for those who for whatever reason don’t have any options to impart truth to people in person, or simply want to expand their reach.

Sing It

Another great way to internalize scripture is to sing it – even if you can’t sing well.

Just this morning I was thinking about a song that I sung in the church that I grew up in. It was based on Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

Now, I’m in my 60s, and I learned this song as either a child or teen, and I can still remember it.

Here’s a video of the song:

I also experienced this just recently. I’m in an online group that is hosted by Bible Memory Goal. A couple of the community members collaborated on a song putting Isaiah 53:5 to music. I listed to it a few times before going to bed, and I woke up singing it. My guess is that I had been “singing” it in my mind throughout the night as I was sleeping.

Here’s a video of the song:

The fact that I can remember scripture from a song that I sung more than 50 years ago, and can as easily memorize and wake up singing a new scripture song that I just learned emphasizes the power of using music to think more deeply on the Word of God.

Journal About It

Journaling is a great way to grapple with the scriptures. There is no pressure, because in most cases, no one else will see what you write. You can rejoice in the scripture, lament, express conviction, and more.

The amazing thing about it is that the more you write, without censorship, the more insight you gain into the scripture.

I find it best not to worry about writing something beautiful. Just write, fast and furious, and you’ll be surprised by the clarity you’ll gain.

Apply It

Finally, apply what you learn from the Bible. Afterall, as James 1:22-25 says:

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:22-25

My prayer is that you’ll use these tips to deepen your love for and understanding of the Bible, and grow closer in your walk with the Lord.