I wasn't always a freestyler when it comes to studying the Word. In the beginning it can be hard to figure out how to study the Word (or even what to study). There are a ton of mnemonic devices to help you study the Bible. I plan to do a video summarizing 5 of them, but I also wanted to show you examples of them in use. The five mnemonics I will be covering are:
The R.E.A.P. Method
R.E.A.P. stands for Read, Examine, Apply, and Pray. As mentioned in my discussion on the S.O.A.P. method, I really prefer to pray first—to me praying after a Bible study is like stretching after a workout; it may have some benefit, but you probably get the most out of it up front. Nonetheless, this is a quick, easy to remember way of starting to study the word. In fact, this is one of my favorite ways to lead a Bible study in a group.
I used Psalm 139 to illustrate this method. After doing so, I think it might be easier to use this method on shorter passages, but it still worked out nicely.
The first step is to actually read the passage. If you’re alone, you can read silently or aloud, but in a group, this is a great time to have the group read the verses out loud. I’ve found that sometimes I pick up more when I’m reading myself because I’m concentrating more, but sometimes, I pick up more listening because I’m not concentrating so hard on the next word. During this first read, let yourself just enjoy reading the text—we’ll go back and zero in on different points in the next step.
During the examine step, you’ll want to go back through the text and pull out anything that stands out or doesn’t make sense. This is the time to look up words that are pivotal to the meaning of the passage (or that you’re simply curious about) and people referenced in the passage. During my second pass through the passage I picked up the following:
📝 Bible Verse
What does it mean to “search me;” is this a reference to thoughts and emotions?
YHWH observes our daily habits, not just what we do at religious gatherings or on religious holidays
God is omniscient if He knows what we will speak before we speak
Looked up the word hemmed
God is omnipresent; He is everywhere
“Land beyond the sea” reminds me of Narnia and Aslan’s Country; perhaps this is where CS Lewis drew his inspiration
Nothing can separate us; echoed in Romans 8:38
“Darkness and light are the same”—interesting considering YHWH divided dark from light in Genesis 1:4
“You knit me together in my mother’s womb” → Jeremiah 1:5
The intricacies of our life are known by God from the beginning; He forms us for a reason and purpose—we are wonderfully made.
The desire to see people brought to justice is present
People misuse the name of YHWH
Strong language; seems extreme
Once we’ve looked over the verses and though through some of what stands out to us, it’s time to apply it to our life today. Much of the Bible is written to the people of that day and may take some thought on how it applies to us today. For instance, verses in the Old Testament detailing what we should do if our ox kills our neighbor’s ox aren’t likely to be relevant today (I actually did grow up with cows, but our cows are butt-head—no horns—and neighbors don’t have cows so it still didn’t really apply). Instead, the application might be something like, if your kid breaks your neighbor’s window with a baseball you owe your neighbor the money to fix the window.
For Psalm 139, I took away the following applications:
- God sees all things → Character is who you are when no one is looking, but God is always looking so we should always carry His Spirit with us; there is no vacation from Christian living.
- Purpose → Sometimes it feels like we’re just here, but this passage and many others assure us that there is a divine purpose for each of us in this life. We should treat our relationships, work, and hobbies as though they may be this divine purpose.
- Search me O God → Surrender and humbleness are necessary for following the Most High. We should be open to His critique and correction, which requires opening our life to Him for inspection.
As mentioned in the beginning, I highly recommend praying before you start the study, but it never hurts to close in prayer too! This is a great time to pray over any questions that may have arisen while reading (it’s perfectly natural to have questions and have to continue studying to get answers; sometimes those answers come quick and sometimes they take years!), as well as any applications or changes you desire to make as a result of reading the passage.
References and Footnotes
- Tasha Wiginton. “REAP Bible Study Method”. Tasha Wiginton: Faith, Love, Creativity; visited January 2023
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