Effective Bible Study Methods [With Free Templates!]

Learning to study the Bible brings us immeasurable benefits. We grow closer and closer to Him and learn to apply His truth to our daily interactions. But feeling under qualified or too busy can leave us overwhelmed. Learning and experimenting with different Bible study methods are wonderful ways to take what you are reading and receive the most out of it.

Effective Bible Study Methods- open bible on brown table with white coffee cup and bouquet of small pink flowers

Goal of Bible Study 

We read and study the Bible for several reasons. The obvious one for me is that I write about Bible topics, so I’m gathering information and putting what I learn into a post that helps you learn too.

We’ve probably all been active in numerous Bible studies over the years. Most have a fellowship component, which is vital to our Christian journey.

Many times we receive a Bible verse through the Holy Spirit, and we go to the Word of God to see where it is, and what it could mean for us.

Sometimes I go to my Bible for pure comfort.

But overarching all these reasons is the primary goal of knowing Jesus Christ.

Jesus chastised the Pharisees who “diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.” John 5:39. They keenly scrutinized the Scriptures because they believed it was the study that bought them eternal life.

But Jesus continues with the real reason to search Scripture: “These are the Scriptures that testify about me.”

The Pharisees refused to apply the teachings to their own lives. They failed to see the Messiah standing in front of them.

Jesus had a different interaction when He appeared and spoke to two men after His resurrection:

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Luke 24:27.

What a personal Bible study that was!!

Why We Study the Bible

We have full access to these same Scriptures, and it is why we study. We want to know Him personally and deeply.

His Word also “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12b. It is a sort of “spiritual checkup” every time we study.

It leads us into a transformation that Paul talks about in Romans 12:2-

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of the mind.”

God’s Word brings healing, cleansing, counsel, strength, peace, assurance, and Jesus Himself. When we apply the Word, it brings forth fruit from our lives.

Are you ready to dive into this “living and powerful” Word in new ways??

Types of Bible Study Methods

There are many effective Bible study methods, but they all have one thing in common.

All these methods are ways to study in an organized way. They follow basic steps of reading the Bible passage, figuring it what it means, and applying its meaning to our own lives.

Are there “best ways” to study the Bible?

We each have a preferred and personal learning style, so the best method is one that we enjoy. It leads us into a meaningful time of searching His Word for what is under the surface.  

We listen and learn and let it shape our lives. Our study can reveal things about ourselves and give us discernment.

Bible Study Methods- side view of woman in white blouse holding open Bible
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Methods of Studying the Bible

You can use any of these methods during your quiet time, or in small groups.

So let’s get started! You will need a Bible, a pen, and a simple notebook. Study Bibles are helpful in that they contain Bible commentary, a Bible dictionary, maps, and other Bible study resources.

But I can say that my first Bible had none of these things and I did just fine!

I am going to provide free Bible study templates for each method if you prefer working with those instead of a notebook. They are a tool to help you keep the information organized; optional but free and easy to download and print.

The first step in our study of the Bible is to begin with prayer. It puts us in a position to slow down, sweep away distractions, and concentrate on the text.

Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom, understanding, and patience as you read and study. Pray for the willingness to be led to His truth, and to have a hunger to keep searching.

SOAP Bible Study 

SOAP is an acronym for:

S– Scripture O- Observation A– Application P– Prayer

The SOAP Bible study method has 4 simple steps and is good for those just beginning Bible study, yet easily adaptable for the student who wants to go deeper.

It helps us focus on the character(s), the setting, and the intended message. This method asks us to make it personal to our lives and what changes we might make. It ends with a place for communicating with God and responding to His Word personally.

How to Use the Soap Method for Bible Study

Scripture-Read your chosen passage of Scripture and write it out. Writing helps us to remember the verse. If you are reading a section from the Bible, write out the verses that grabbed your attention or spoke to your heart. You can highlight/circle words that are especially meaningful or unusual.

Observation- What jumped out to you? What is the overall message? Were there any commands or actions to take? What questions do you have about this passage?

Application- What were you convicted of or learned that you can practically apply to your life today? What is God trying to tell you?

Prayer-Write a prayer to God, incorporating your thoughts about the verse. Ask Him for help to apply what you learned. Ask for clarification if needed.

SOAP Bible Study Template

I’ve created four different SOAP Bible study printable templates for you to use in your Bible study. They each have their own variation on designs and spaces to write.

I even made a black and white version for those of you who like to save on ink. 😊Remember to use the portrait mode when printing the templates.

I’ve also included a small sized card (use “actual size” when printing) that has printed instructions for you to keep with your supplies or in your Bible. Click on the image below to access in my Resource Library.

SOAP Bible Study Templates- mock up of 4 templates with instruction card

Inductive Bible Study Method 

Inductive Bible study is another method to help us know God. It is best used in studying a chapter of a Bible book.

The inductive method helps us see how the chapters and verses build on each other and better understand the author’s aim and message.

It’s a simple yet personal step-by-step approach using “inductive reasoning”- a logical way of drawing conclusions beginning with the specific and moving to the general.

We actually use this reasoning often in our everyday lives. We make conclusions from facts, using logic.

For example, I planted perennial wild flower seeds in my garden. They come back every year and bloom. I assume they will do so this spring as well.

The Inductive method has three sections: observation, interpretation, and application.

The observation section is simply registering facts using the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why) and how. What are these verses saying?

Note any repeated word(s), lists, words that contrast, any changes happening, and major points. Look up any words you don’t understand and compare different translations of the passage for clarity.

The interpretation section helps us unlock what the text means. We do this by using historical or cultural context, comparing it with what you know about the author and the background of the book (who were they speaking to?) and by other passages of Scripture using the same words.

Look for obvious meanings, promises, commands, encouragement, and main points of teaching.

The last section is application. How does this verse apply to your life? What was God trying to tell you? Are there practical steps can you take to apply it? What changes do you need to make?

Inductive Bible Study Template 

Here are 2 different templates for you to use in your study. I’ve included an instructional page as well. Click on the image below to access them in my Resource Library.

Inductive bible Study Templates- mock up of 3 templates

Everyone can use this method, from children to adults. But if you would like a much more detailed and in-depth version of the inductive study, I can think of no one better to teach you than Megan Allen from Megan Allen Ministries!

Here is a post she wrote on the topic that includes free printables and a video tutorial that walks you through each step of the process: Inductive Bible Study.

Bible Verse Mapping 

Verse mapping is another tool to improve our Bible study habits. Again, as with the other methods, anyone can master this technique.

Bible verse mapping breaks down a single verse or verses into small pieces to find a deeper understanding of what you are reading.

It’s a way of researching and dissecting the Bible by finding key words and historical context. There is no right or wrong way to map a Bible verse. You are the researcher who is choosing what you want to focus on.

How to Verse Map

Choose a verse from a Bible Reading plan, a Bible character study, a topical study (i.e.-peace, hope, etc.) and then do some research- who wrote it? Who was the author speaking to? What was the purpose? What historical background is important to know? 

Typically, the beginning of the book contains answers to these questions.

Next, read the verses before and after your verse to understand what the writer was thinking about, ideas and concepts being taught, and events of the time.

Write out your verse and read it aloud carefully. 

To make it personal, insert your name or “I” whenever you come across the words “we”, “you”, etc.

Highlight or circle any words that grab your attention/seem significant/are unclear.

Look up other Bible translations and check the cross references to compare to your verse. Look up definitions of words you circled/highlighted.

Check the original language- Greek or Hebrew- meanings of words to bring extra clarity, meaning, and understanding. I use the Blue Letter Bible for this- https://www.blueletterbible.org/

Lastly, apply what you’ve learned to your own life. Did you learn anything new about God’s character? What new truth or idea did you discover?

Are you being led to make any changes in your life?

Conclude by writing out a prayer to thank Him for what He has revealed to you.

Verse Mapping Examples

Here is an example of using my template and Isaiah 53:6:

Verse Mapping- mock up of template with greenery on left side of page

Verse Mapping Template

I’ve created a template to help you get started, an instruction page, and a bookmark with step by step instructions to tuck in your Bible. It’s also available in my Resource Library; just click on the image below.

free bible verse mapping printable- left border of green and purple tiny flowers with templates for verse mapping- one blank, one with guided instructions- and a Verse mapping bookmark in light green with dark green leaves denoting steps of process

I’ve also written an entire blog post on this topic if you would like to go deeper:

A 10 Step Guide to Verse Mapping

These are just three of many different methods to study the Bible. 

No matter which method you choose, give yourself grace as you learn. This isn’t meant to discourage you, but a way to see God’s loving character.

No matter which one you choose, your study will bring blessings of a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and precious spiritual growth.



All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.

Photo Credit-Canva

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