Amy Carroll » Listen » 3 Step Tool

3 Step Tool

In encouraging you to study scripture on your own, I want to give you a tool that has helped me gain greater understanding and has given me more personal application than my past study. I picked up this tool at an Anne Graham Lotz crusade, but it is also used by Bible Study Fellowship. It’s very simple and contains just three questions. Divide your paper into three columns with the following headings:

(Click here to download a blank page, an explanation page, and a sample study page)

What does it say?
What does it mean?
How do I apply this?

Begin by praying and asking God to show you where to start and what verses He’d like for you to study. Pick a short passage so you can slow down, spend some time, and really work on understanding. You will complete one question/column at a time for the whole passage.
Depending on the passage, I sometimes answer the questions for each verse individually, but sometimes I group verses together. Organize your study in a way that makes sense to you.

Use the tips below as guidelines for answering the questions. The rule of thumb is to begin by looking at exactly what God says in the passage without our own interpretation. Act like a reporter in this section, and just write the facts and major details.

The next step is to find the lesson in the passage. The Bible is meant to be interpreted as a whole, so sometimes single verses are confusing or seem contradictory. If that happens, look at the verse in the context of the whole chapter or entire book.

The final step is applying God’s Word to your own life. This is where something very exciting happens. If you are studying with a group, the group’s first column would be very close to identical. The second column might vary a little, but many would come to the same conclusions. On the application column, though, every member of the group might have a different application. That’s God speaking directly and personally to you! Completely amazing! Use the following tips to guide you as you study.

What does it say?
Put the number of the verse beside each fact.
Write down facts. This includes answers to the “w”s (who, what, when, where).
Write each fact in a brief summary sentence. Remember, this is your short-hand, so use abbreviations, symbols or anything that you’ll remember later.
Do not paraphrase. Use significant words straight from scripture. ( i.e. holiness, redeemed)

What does it mean?
What are the spiritual truths or principles in this verse?
Look for keys like these:
S—Is there a sin to confess?
P—Is there a promise to keep?
A—Is there an action to take?
C—Is there a command I need to heed?
E—Is there an example to follow or to avoid?

How do I apply this?
How will I act on this lesson?
Write open ended questions — ones that can’t be answered with “yes” or “no”
Take time to pray and listen. Write a response to each question.


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  1. Hi Amy,

    I subscribed to your blog on January 10, but did not receive the exclusive content for subscribers. Is it possible for me to receive that content? Thank you!

  2. Lindsey Petropoulos says:

    I am interested in learning more about the “Instagram, where I found a pre-prayer journal routine that settles my thoughts and quiets my mind.” that you mentioned in your Proverbs 31 Devotional dated 1/1/2019 please!

  3. Thank You for the 3 steps in bible study. I am a fairly new Christian and I wanted to study my bible but I couldn’t understand it so I stopped reading. I pray that this will help because I do want to know about Jesus.

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      Theresa, your comment totally melted my heart. I’m praying right now that God will use that tool the same way in my life that He has in mine. It’s so simple to use, but He speaks to me profoundly through it.

      Another tool I love is the First 5 app. With your heart to know Him, I know He’ll lead you to something that works for you!

  4. I came over here from Lysa’s site and am so glad I did. Thank you for these three steps; I will remember them! This was great.

    Enjoy your week with your family,


  5. Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog says:

    Good stuff Amy!!!
    Much love,

  6. This is are great tips to digging into the word Amy. Thanks for sharing

  7. Hey Amy,
    I have used this method before. Our pastor shared it and encouraged our church to do it. It was extremely powerful for me. Thank you for reminding. I hope that many will be inspired to study this way!

  8. I am so glad that you reminded me of these. I have even taught them to youth girls. They are so helpful and easy. It brings the word to such a personal level.

  9. Thank you Amy for these steps. Not only can it be used for new Christians but great help to those of us that never received the fundamentals on how to grow as Christians.

    I think back to several blogs before where you stated many times new Christians are given a hand shake and a God be with you and bless you. Not knowing really what to do next, feeling discouraged, allowing Satan to fill us with doubt and many times giving up.

    Thanks for sharing!