R.A. Torrey: “Eight Fundamental Conditions of the Most Profitable Bible Study”
The student must be born again
Unregenerate men should not be forbidden from studying the Bible, for the Word of God is the instrument the Holy Spirit uses in the new birth (I Peter 1:23); but it should be distinctly understood that, while there are teachings in the Bible the natural man can understand, and beauties which he can see, its most distinctive and characteristic teachings are beyond his grasp, and its highest beauties belong to a world in which he has no vision.
A love for the Bible
Study of the Word stimulates love for the Word. Bearing in mind who the Author of the Book is, what its purpose is, what its power is, and what the riches of its contents are, will go far toward stimulating a love and appetite for the Book.
A willingness to do hard work
The reason why so many get so little out of their Bible reading is simply because they are not willing to think. Intellectual laziness lies at the bottom of a large percent of fruitless Bible reading.
A will wholly surrendered to God
A surrendered will gives that clearness of vision which is necessary to understand God’s Book. It is remarkable how clear and simple and beautiful passages that once puzzled us become when we are brought to that place where we say to God, “I surrender my will unconditionally to Thine. I will have no will but Thine. Teach me Thy will.”
The student of the Bible who would get the greatest profit out of his studies must be obedient to its teachings as soon as he sees them.
Truth obeyed leads to more truth. Truth disobeyed destroys the capacity for discovering truth. Do not study the Bible for the mere gratification of intellectual curiosity, but to find out how to live and please God.
A child-like mind
Do not come to the Bible full of your own ideas, and seeking to find a confirmation of them. Come rather to find out what are God’s ideas as He has revealed them there. Come not to find out a confirmation of your own opinion, but to be taught what God may be pleased to teach.
Don’t come to the Bible to find out what you can make it mean, but to find out what God intended it to mean.
Study it as the Word of God
Reason demands that we submit our judgment and reasonings to statements of infinite wisdom. There is nothing more irrational than rationalism, which makes finite wisdom the test of infinite wisdom, and submits the teachings of God’s omniscience to the approval of man’s judgment. Real human wisdom, when it finds infinite wisdom, bows before it and says, “Speak what Thou wilt and I will believe.”
He who would understand and love his Bible must be much in prayer. Prayer will do more than a college education to make the Bible an open and glorious book.
~ From How to Study the Bible for Greatest Profit