"Pray without ceasing."
1 Thessalonians 5:17
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Scripture tells us to pray "without ceasing... at all times... in everything... continually." 1
The Four Step Bible Study moves participants by degrees, in a non-threatening way... to integrate silent prayer and voluntary audible prayer into Group Bible Study. The goal is to learn how to listen prayerfully, read scripture prayerfully and speak prayerfully. Then to live prayerfully... with greater understanding of the scriptures... to walk by the Spirit.
Contextual Bible Study
You may use the Four Steps to study any book of the Bible you choose. In the Four Steps, one book of the Bible will be studied from beginning to end. In this way each verse will be received in its proper context. Participants will read a context passage and a focus passage. The focus passage will be the primary text for the meeting. The context passage provides the context for the focus passage. Subchapter 7.5 provides a link to divisions for eighteen books of the New Testament. So, context and focus passages for those books have already been arranged for you.
Agenda, Leaders Guide, etc.
The agenda for the Four Step Bible Study is presented in the next subchapter, subchapter 7.1. The Leader's Guide is in 7.2. The use of spiritual gifts in the meeting is explained in 7.3. Click the arrow at the top right of this page to open those pages. Two other subchapters follow to simplify, enrich and deepen the experience.
Leaders simply provide attendees with a link to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. Then you follow the Four Steps together from the agenda in subchapter 7.1. There is no need to print materials or hand outs. Everything is available online, through your phone. Supplementary materials are provided immediately below the Agenda for reference during or after the meeting.
Three standard discussion questions are provided in the agenda to be used in every meeting. These three questions have been carefully selected to bring members into true interaction with God, focus on the intended meaning of the text and to reduce fruitless discussion (1 Timothy 1:3-6). They may be used on virtually any text in every book of the Bible.
Are you a layman? Do you lack seminary training? Is the load of your life so heavy that you have little time to prepare to lead a Bible study? Do you find it difficult to understand scripture? Will you rely on the Holy Spirit to teach you and your group as you interact with the Holy Scriptures together? If the answer to these questions is yes, then these questions have been designed for you!
Are you a pastor? Are you an expert in the scriptures? Do you lack the time to lead every Bible study? Do you need laymen who can lead others to feed in God's Holy scriptures? With these questions you can teach your flock how to hear the scriptures when you are not present! When you are present you can spoon feed them truth from God's word. But with the Four Step Bible Study you can teach them to feed themselves by hearing the Holy Spirit as He leads and speaks within each participant!
Each step has been carefully planned to bring each attendee into a deep experience with God through the scriptures, individually and as a group. Each step builds on previous steps. The steps are structured so that all attendees will not necessarily speak audibly at the meeting, but all will participate silently. In this way the curious and inexperienced may observe and learn without fear of being embarrassed.
Read God's Words to God
A very unique aspect of the Four Step Bible Study is that it integrates one of the intimate reading methods into group Bible study. Reading God's words to God is the Third Path in subchapter 1.1. If the group is unfamiliar with reading scripture to God, I will introduce them to it in this way:
Imagine that your Heavenly Father wrote a book for you. Imagine also that you are a child, sitting in His lap, reading His book to Him. It's that simple. Come into the intimate presence of your Lord by faith, and then read His words to Him.
Some may think that it is childish to read the scriptures to God. But Jesus said...
"3Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18:3,4).
So, one must become childlike to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (verse 3). And once one has entered the Kingdom of Heaven, greatness is also achieved by being childlike (verse 4). So, if we are to mature to greatness in Christ through reading God's words, we must do it "as little children... like this little child."
Reading to God also pierces a delusion. We tend to act as if God is not present because He is unseen. Reading to God opens our eyes to the unseen.
While reading God's words to God, participants will
- quickly gain a clear understanding of the flow of thought of the scriptures,
- carefully observe every sentence, phrase and word of the passage,
- enjoy fellowship with God and
- be much better prepared to discuss the scripture for a more productive time for all.
So, participants interact spiritually with God in every sentence, phrase and word of the passage. And they do this before discussion begins. Many incorrect interpretations of scripture occur in group discussions because participants began discussion before they interacted with God in every sentence, phrase and word of the passage. Understanding is not acquired by rigorous intellectual scholarship. Understanding is granted by God to those who meet specific spiritual conditions which He has ordained (subchapter 1.5).
"...Then he opened their minds, that they might understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45). (Jesus opened their minds.)
Examples of reading to God are provided in the agenda, Leader's Guide and subchapter 7.4.
Designed for Groups to be led by Laymen
It has been been exciting for me to lead groups using this method. Through the sharing of insight from those with different spiritual gifts, I have found myself being taught, encouraged and energized by participants as we follow the steps from our phones together. I believe that the content and order of each step brings this about. The essence of what is happening within each participant is fundamentally different from when I lead using other methods.
The priest or pastor who leads a Bible study benefits from being perceived as an expert by the participants in the Bible study. The layman Bible study leader does not benefit from this perception. So, it is more difficult for the layman to lead. I am a layman. The Four Steps were designed by laymen for laymen, with prayerful experimentation, while requesting and receiving feedback.
As I said before, I lead Bible studies as a layman. I also attend Bible studies lead by my pastor. There have been times when something unexpected happened and our pastor didn't show up to lead our weekly Bible study. There we were with ten to fifteen men and no one had prepared to lead. Using the methods employed in the Four Step Bible Study, I was able to lead the group, with no preparation, to have a spiritually enriching group discussion, with unity, broad participation and prayer, to hear what was in God's words.
Although the Four Step Bible Study was designed to be used in a group setting, it is a powerful way to experience God in your daily devotional. Actually, the prayerful interaction of the Four Steps was the foundation of my daily devotional before being adapted to a group Bible study setting. If you will use the Four Steps in your personal daily devotional, you will receive a taste if how useful it will be for your group study. Your need for devotional books and commentaries will diminish as you spend your time immersed directly in God's undiluted word, while conversing intimately with Him. As you interact with the Holy Spirit and praise your way through scripture... your time in the Bible will be transformed from duty into joy! Click here to see the Four Step Bible Study, as designed for individual daily devotionals. To see the Four Step Bible Study designed for groups, see below.
Click the Arrow at the Top Right
To see the Four Step Bible Study designed for groups, click the arrow at the top right of this page. I have prayed for you... that our Lord will draw you into the prayer that never ends!
1) 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6 and Hebrews 13:15, as presented in subchapter 4.12.