How To Study The Bible One Verse At A Time

Having a hard time fitting Bible study into your daily quiet time with God? Verse mapping is an easy way to dig into God’s word one verse at a time. These step-by-step instructions will help end your Bible study struggles for good!

I was really looking forward to my time with God that morning.

I was feeling a little worn and weary and just needed a word of encouragement to lift my spirit. I grabbed my quiet time basket and headed to my favorite spot.

There was just one problem that morning, I wasn’t sure what to read or study.  I didn’t know where to look for the comfort I desperately needed at that moment. So I prayed. I asked God to speak to me through His word.

I grabbed my Bible and started flipping through the book of Proverbs. My go-to place when I need some wisdom or guidance. I scanned the pages until my eyes landed on Chapter 3, verses 5 and 6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . .”

Familiar words. I’d heard them many times before. I was sure that I had read them a few times a well. There was just one problem. I wasn’t really sure what they meant. There had been times when I truly believed that I was trusting in God with all my heart but I always seemed to make a mess of things.

Can you relate to that feeling?

Wanting to follow God’s commands and obey His word but having no idea where to get started.  Have you ever read your Bible but couldn’t figure out how to walk out what the scripture said?

It’s a common struggle to have. And God promises in His word that will give undertstanding and wisdom to anyone that asks for it.

That day I asked God to help me to understand that Proverb so that I could walk in obedience to His word. And He did. God used verse mapping to help me finally understand this verse and so many others!

Verse mapping is an easy way to dig into God's word one verse at a time.

The Ultimate Guide to Verse Mapping

Verse mapping is simply a method of verse by verse Bible study. You will take one verse and study every single word so that you have a better understanding of scripture.

This method can take as little as 15 minutes to as much as an hour. It all depends on how much time you have, how many verses you want to study and how deep you want to go.  This is also a Bible study method that is easy to start and stop.

Whenever I run out of time on my verse map, it’s super easy to just pick back up where I left off.

Verse Mapping Supplies

Before we get started with the step by step instructions you’ll need to gather your supplies:

  1. A Bible: you can use any Bible you have access to. I like to have multiple translations to work with but you can easily find different translations online at places like Bible Gateway and Bible Study Tools.
  2. Notebook or a journal: You will be taking lots of notes so you’ll need something to write on. Index cards are also a good option if you are just doing one short verse.
  3. Writing Tools:  You will want to have a few pens/pencils/highlighters available to you. These will help you stay organized as you begin to map out your verse
  4. Reference books: At a minimum, you’ll need access to a dictionary. I also like to have a Bible dictionary and concordance close by when I study. You can access these online as well. My two favorite sources are Bible Study Tools and Blue Letter Bible.

Choosing a Verse to Study

Once you have all your supplies ready, the next step is to choose a verse to study.  Don’t spend a lot of time stressing over this decision. Here are some ways to choose your verse:

  • Monthly Reading Plan: A great way to get more out of a reading plan is to map out each verse daily
  • Scriptures from Sunday’s sermon: Jot down the scripture references your pastor teaches from on Sunday mornings and then spend the week meditating and studying these verses on your own
  • Verses that you don’t understand: When you come across a verse that makes you scratch your head, mapping it out will help you gain a clearer understanding.
  • Passages of scripture: You can dig deep into a section of scripture by taking the time to map out each verse. This will really help you understand that entire passage so much more than if you just read it in one sitting and moved on. The Promise Keeper study helps you map out each verse in Psalm 23!

Now we are ready to get to work!

4 Simple Steps to Verse Mapping

Step 1: Read/Write the verse

Once you have your verse picked out, take some time to read the verse.  If time allows it’s always a good idea to read the entire passage of scripture around your verse. This will help you to have context for all the notes that you will take as you begin to look up words.

This doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Read what you can. If it’s just a few verses before and after that is fantastic. If you have more time and can read the entire chapter or even the whole book of the Bible even better. You just want to have a picture in your mind about what’s going on in scripture as you begin to study.

Then write the verse down. Write out the entire verse that you want to study on a piece of paper, in your journal or on a notecard.  If you have time copy the verse in 2 other translations.

Step 2: Start digging into the verse

Using a highlighter, colored pencil or your favorite pen mark the words or phrases that jump out at you. The things that you want to learn more about. There’s no right or wrong here, different things will jump out at you at different times.

Here’s an example, if I was going to study Proverbs 3:5 I would mark the following words to study (The words in bold are the ones that I will look up in my resource materials.):

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Once you’ve marked your words it’s time to pull out your dictionary. Look up each word and write down what they mean. Be sure to take note if the word is a verb, adjective or noun because that can sometimes affect the meaning.

I always like to start with a regular English dictionary when I get to this study. But if I have more time I also like to look up the words in my Bible dictionary. Sometimes, words don’t mean what we think they do when we get back to the original Greek or Hebrew.  If you don’t have time for that no worries.

By the end of this step, you should have a nice list of definitions ready to use.

Step 3: Insert the definitions into the verse

Now that you have looked up each word, take a few minutes to rewrite the verse using the definitions of the words. Our previous example might look something like this:

Believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of the Lord with all the central or innermost part of your being,  and do not rely for support or inspiration on your own ability to understand something.

If you have more time, pull out your concordance and look up other verses that use the words that you marked. Read a few of them to help you see how it was used and what it meant in different parts of scripture. This will add to your understanding. And it may give you more verses to map later.

Step 4: Apply the verse to your life

No Bible study is complete until we take some time to apply it to our lives. Often studying scripture will reveal something that we need to change about our walk with God.

I like to ask myself the following questions:

  1. How can I apply this verse to my life/situation?
  2. What did I learn about God from this verse?
  3. Are there any commands/warnings/promises I should make note of?

Take some time to think through each of these questions and make note of anything else that comes to mind. Finally, I like to end with a few minutes of prayer.

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