John MacArthur shares how he first learned to study the Bible:
You say, “I tried reading the Bible, but I didn’t get anything.”
Let me share how I study the Bible, and how the Bible has come alive to me. I began in 1 John. One day I sat down and read all 5 chapters straight through. It took me 20 minutes. Reading one book straight through was terrific. (The books of the Bible weren’t written as an assortment of good little individual verses. They were written with flow and context.)
The next day I sat down and read 1 John straight through again. The third day, I sat down and read 1 John straight through. The fourth day, straight through again. The fifth day, I sat down and read it again. I did this for 30 days. Do you know what happened at the end of 30 days? I knew what was in 1 John.
Someone says to you, “Where in the Bible does it talk about confessing sin?” You see a mental image of 1 John, first chapter, right-hand column, half-way down (depending on your Bible). “Where does it say to love not the world?” Second Chapter, right-hand column, half-way down. Where does it talk about sin unto death? Chapter 5, last page. You know 1 John!
Next, I went to the gospel of John. I divided the gospel of John into three sections of seven chapters each. I read the first seven chapters for 30 days, the next seven for the next 30 days, and the last seven for 30 days. In 90 days. I had read the entire Gospel of John 30 times. Where does it talk about the Good Shepherd? Chapter 10, right-hand column, starts in the middle, goes down, flip the page, go on down.
Where does it talk about the vine and the branches? Chapter 15. Where does it talk about Jesus’ friends? Chapter 15, over in the next column and a little farther down. Where does it talk about Jesus arrest in the garden? John 18. The restoration of Peter? John 21. The woman at the well? John 4. The Bread of Life? John 6. Nicodemus? John 3. The wedding at Cana? John 2.
You might say, “My, you are smart!” No I am not smart. I read it 30 times. Even I can get it then! Isaiah said to learn “precept upon precept, line upon line… here a little, and there a little” (see Isa. 28:10-13). Then you have hidden it in your heart. After a while you are no longer a concordance cripple!
The more you study the word of God, the more it saturates your mind and life. Someone is reported to have asked a concert violinist in New York’s Carnegie Hall how she became so skilled. She said that it was by “planned neglect.” She planned to neglect everything that was not related to her goal.
Some less important things in your life could stand some planned neglect so that you might give yourself to studying the Word of God. Do you know what would happen? The more you would study the Word of God, the more your mind would be saturated with it. It will be no problem then for you to think of Christ. You won’t be able to stop thinking of Him.
To be Spirit filled is to live a Christ-conscious life, and there is no shortcut to that. You can’t go and get yourself super-dedicated to live a Christ-conscious life. The only way you can be saturated with the thoughts of Christ is to saturate yourself with the Book that is all about Him. And this is God’s will, that you not only be saved but that you also be Spirit-filled.
–John MacArthur in Found: God’s Will, p. 28-30