According to Richard Warren in 12 Dynamic Bible Study Methods, the secret of effective Bible study is knowing how to ask the right kinds of questions. There are different questions for each Bible study method. Write down insights as they come; the ultimate goal is application, not just interpretation. Make up your mind that you will regularly put some time into the study of the Bible. Below are several Bible study methods, followed by a description of widely available research tools.
Topical Bible Study: According to R. A. Torrey in How to Study the Bible for Greatest Profit, Bible students should take up various subjects, one by one, and search the Bible for what it has to say on these subjects. Collect and compare all the verses you can find on a particular topic. Select a biblical subject and trace it through a single book. Compile a list of words, collect Bible references, consider each one, and compare and group the references. Organize your conclusions into an outline that you can share with another person. It may be important to know what great men and women have to say on important subjects; but it is far more important to know what God has to say on these subjects. It is important, also, to know all that God has to say. The topical method of Bible study is simplest, most fascinating, and yields the greatest immediate results. Sometimes it will be necessary to look up other subjects that are closely related to the one in question. For example, if you wish to study what the teaching of God's Word is regarding the Atonement, you will not only look under the heading "Atonement" but also under the heading "Blood."
The Chapter Summary Method: According to Warren, the student should read a chapter of a Bible book at least five times, and then write down a summary of the central thoughts as well as the major points in the chapter. Make a list of the most important people. Why are they included? Choose a verse which summarizes the whole chapter or one which speaks to you personally. List any difficulties you may have with the chapter (such as statements you don't understand), questions, and key words of the chapter. Look for other verses that help clarify what the chapter is talking about. What are the major principles, insights, and lessons? Why does God want this passage in the Bible? Ask yourself a series of questions relating to the content of the chapter, and ending with a general summary of the chapter. Divide the chapter into its natural sections and find headings for them that describe their contents. Write down the leading facts of the chapter in their proper order. Make note of the persons mentioned in the chapter and of any analysis of their character. Think of what might be the central truth of the chapter, along with the key verses.
The Book Survey Method: Survey an entire book of the Bible by reading it through several times to get a general overview of its contents. Study the background of the book and make notes on its contents—the history, geography, culture, science, people, events, and topics covered. Outline and chart the key events and themes. Use Bible reference books to increase your understanding of the Word.
The Verse-by-Verse Analysis Method: Select one passage of Scripture and examine it in detail. Write out a personal paraphrase, list some questions and observations, find cross-references, record any insights, and write down a brief personal application for each verse.
The Thematic Method: Select a Bible theme to study. Then think of three to five questions you'd like to have answered about that theme. Next, study all the references you can find on your theme and record the answers to your questions. Think of topics such as: What should we strive for as Christians? What traits of a fool are given in this book or chapter?