How to Read, Examine, Apply, and Pray (REAP) Scripture

To aid in your study of God’s Word over the coming year, we’re offering some helps and suggestions. The first thing we’re offering is a tool known as the REAP (Read, Examine, Apply, Pray) method. The pages that follow serve as a template for how to use the REAP method with any given text of Scripture.  (Near the end of the guide you will see a one-page version of the REAP method, which is probably all you will need once you become familiar with it). 

You’ll probably find it is easier to apply the REAP method to smaller sections of Scripture.  You may, for example, read all the chapters for a given day and then choose to apply the REAP method to one chapter or a select passage from your reading. Regardless of how you choose to apply this method, don’t lose sight of the end goal: regularly reading and understanding God’s Word so that you might grow in your love for Him.

A couple other suggestions that you might find helpful: (1) keep a notebook or journal in which you record thoughts, questions, practical applications, etc., and (2) find at least one person who will provide accountability and encouragement for you in this important discipline.

One final word: Don’t get discouraged if you fall behind in your reading. And definitely don’t quit! It’s better to be behind and to keep reading than to stop reading altogether. Make every effort to be consistent, but give yourself the freedom to adjust when you miss a day or something disrupts your schedule. Keep plugging away and, by God’s grace, you will not be disappointed in the end.

Ok, now enjoy the journey!

READ

How Do We Read The Bible?

·      Read the Bible prayerfully

o   We must saturate our study in prayer.  Ask God to illuminate the text and expose sin.

·      Read the Bible humbly.

o   We want to be humble enough to submit to the text and be changed by it.

·      Read the Bible carefully.

o   We want to know the truth of the text and we to be careful not to stray from it.

·      Read the Bible confidently.

o   If we truly believe the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of the universe inspired this book then we have to have confidence in it.

·      Read the Bible consistently.

o   Have a plan to be consistent in God’s Word.  Reading and studying the Bible involves discipline.

·      Read the Bible intentionally.

o   Don’t let it be something else on your to-do list.  Read with a purpose; a desire to know God more deeply and be transformed more into the image of His son.

·      Read the Bible joyfully.

o   We should find great joy in reading the Bible.  This only comes as we believe and adhere to the principles above.

Open your Bible to the text for the day and ask the Holy Spirit to teach, correct, and train you (2 Timothy 3:16). This means that you start your devotional time in prayer. You will spend concentrated time in prayer at the end of your time, but you need to begin by asking God to provide the necessary guidance and understanding for what you are about to read and study.

As you’re reading, have the questions below in mind.  If this is your first time using this guide it will be good to read through the entire guide before studying the text.  This will help you know what you need to look for in the text.  Many of the questions listed below are context questions.  Do not be too concerned about having in-depth answers on some of these questions early on. Over time, as you learn more about the Bible, you will understand more about the Biblical authors and their reasons for writing to a particular audience.  With that said, go into the passage with these questions in mind and prepare to answer them in the next section.  

  • What’s going on in this passage?

  • Who’s talking?

  • Who’s the audience?

  • What are important words, people, and ideas?

EXAMINE

Bible study done well involves examination of the text.  In order to truly understand a text you need to spend time examining it. Otherwise you may come to incorrect conclusions that result in misguided application.  Good examination may not prevent you from coming to incorrect conclusions, but it will minimize the possibility.

Examining the text involves both observation (What do I see?) and interpretation (What does this mean?).

Spend some time reflecting on the text. Ask yourself the questions below and write down your thoughts, but don’t feel pressure to answer every question.  Every question may not apply to every text, but most will.  Certain questions become easier to answer as you gain more knowledge of the Bible.  It takes time to develop a good foundation in God’s Word so do not become discouraged early on if you struggle to answer certain questions.  You will find that the more you study God’s Word, the more you’ll be able to get out of a given text. We have provided some recommended resources at the end of this guide to help you improve your Scripture study skills.

Observation Questions:

  • What’s going on in this passage?

  • Who’s talking?

  • Who’s the audience?

  • What are important words, people, and ideas?

    • What people are mentioned and what do I know about them?

    • What words seem important in this text and what do they mean? (Repetition can be a good indicator of importance)

    • What ideas seem particularly important?

 Interpretation Questions:

·      What is the author’s main point?

·      What does this text teach us about the gospel?

o   What does this text teach us about God?

o   What does this text teach us about man?

o   What does this text teach us about who Jesus is and why I and others need Him?

o   What does this text teach us about trusting and following Jesus?

APPLY

After examining a passage you should try to understand how the truths discovered apply to your life.  Application is key. Otherwise all you gain is more head knowledge.  Knowledge is not bad. We need to know the Bible, but mere knowledge is not the end goal. We study the Bible in order to glorify God.  We read and examine in order to apply it so that our lives will be transformed to the glory of God.

After examining the text, ask yourself these questions.  Again, all of these questions may not apply every time, so don’t feel the pressure to force an answer.

·      What sin(s) did I discover and how do I need to repent of or avoid them?

·      What truth(s) did I discover that I need to believe?

·      What commands did I discover that I need to obey?

·      What principles did I learn that should change how I think, speak, or act?

·      What can I do today—empowered by the Holy Spirit—to apply this passage?

Take time to meditate on the application that has resulted from your study of Scripture.  This involves thinking deeply about what God has shown you during your time in the Word.  We should be as specific as possible in our applications.  If we give general answers to these questions we will likely do nothing in response.  Is there a promise from God that you are doubting? Do you need to repent of sin revealed to you by God’s Word? Is there an action you need to take or a word of encouragement you need to give? How does this passage give you courage to share the gospel?  Strive to be a doer of God’s Word and not simply a hearer.

PRAY

Pray through the passage and your application, asking God to change your heart and to change your life based on what you studied in His Word.

If you struggle with how to pray, the following acronym may be helpful.  You can incorporate what you’ve learned during your study time along with other prayer items.

A.C.T.S.

·      Adoration

o   Spend time adoring and praising God for His attributes and character.  Refer back to what the text taught you about God and use that during this prayer time.

·      Confession

o   In light of who God is, confess your sin to Him and your need for Him. Refer back to any sins you discovered that you need to either repent of or avoid.

·      Thanksgiving

o   Thank God for all that He’s done in and through Christ.  This naturally follows confession as you remember that in Christ you are forgiven.  Refer back to what the text taught you about Christ and your need for Him.

·      Supplication

o   Present your requests to God, both for others and yourself.

After you finish, share what God taught you with at least one person—your spouse, your kids, your coworkers, your roommate, or your small group. Don't keep to yourself what God taught you. Live to be a reproducer and not just a receiver. 

Additional Encouragement to Memorize Scripture

We would also like to encourage you to develop the discipline of memorizing Scripture. Chuck Swindoll said he knew of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. For this reason, we want to encourage you to memorize Scripture as you walk through this reading plan. If you have never memorized Scripture before then start simple. Select one passage out of the reading for a given week and work to commit it to memory that week. It may not seem like much but at the end of the year you will have committed 52 passages to memory. As with most, this is a discipline that will grow over time.

We have listed some resources below to help in this but for most people repetition is the key in memorizing Scripture. Once you’ve selected a passage for the week write it down. Each day carve out a little time to work on memorizing it. You may simply read the passage 10x and then try and say it 10x without looking at it. Try saying it throughout the day as it comes to mind. It may prove helpful to write the passage on a card that you can put in your pocket for the week to pull out and go over as you have the opportunity. There are a variety of methods and tools available when it comes to memorizing Scripture so just keep trying different approaches until you find the one that suits you.

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