How does one study the bible best? Is it as simple as just "doing it"? I fear that it isn't for most people. They must first set up a routine to do so. So then, how best to do so?
I can't answer for all of you, of course, but for me it begins with the proper "atmosphere" that is I have to be in a place with the proper ambiance to meditate. That means music in the background [usually something soft and slow but beautiful like classical] with a relaxed posture and no pets in the room.
Most also set up a period of time during the day they can commit to. And it's also important to "prepare" yourself by being alone with your thoughts for some time before hand. That helps keep your mind focused on your study while keeping your mind from wandering. I tend to do this in complete darkness for 15 minutes before I begin. It really does help.
What to study? I feel it's best to follow a "theme" so you stay on one subject for a week building on it until you go over what you've studied on the final day and put it all together. If you go from creation to Jesus's birth in two days it will be very hard to follow, even for yourself. However if you follow a logical sequence, getting there will not only be easier for you to get much out of it, you will also have the foundations to gain a deeper understanding out of what you study next.
How did those in the bible study? First let's consider Deuteronomy 6: 4-9. They were to focus all day on meditation and consideration of the words of the law. They were to govern Israel's entire being. It was just as much for their children as it was for them. And for those who visit, seeing the writings on the gates, the posts of the house, and even on their person. Literally and metaphorically, they were to KNOW the scriptures and to live it. The first step, of course, is knowing.
A very important thing to consider is regard toward what it is we are studying. One can not force themselves to study something begrudgingly and gain much from it. It will become a chore and the routine will quickly be broken. The most important thing about studying the bible is having reverence to it. Do we?
2 Kings 22 we have King Josiah introduced. Verse 2 read "he did right in the sight of the Lord" amidst all of the kings Israel had [good and bad] this one, at 18 years old showed all due reverence to God by rebuilding his temple, but more than that, verse 11 records that he rent his clothes after Shaphan read the book of the law to him. So troubled was he about all that Israel did contrary to God's commands.
How did they get to this point? Verse 13 "because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book" the wrath of God was kindled against them. This troubled Josiah greatly. This should trouble us. Did our fathers hearken unto the words of the book? Do we? Most in America don't. Even though they have the book of the law in their very homes!
So now we know the importance of study. The lack of scriptural knowledge is one reason we're in the state we're in as a country. All of the sin not only practiced openly, but encouraged, the bible seen as an afterthought or worse... a joke, and people doing what is right in their own eyes.
Why don't we study as we should? Are we too busy? Do we have so much on our plates as a people that we can't find time for God? This is the importance of setting aside time before hand every day. And it must be the same time every day if at all possible. Whether it's as we wake up or before we lie down to sleep is irrelevant, so long as it's consistent. I read that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit for us. That's the first step, but it'll be a tricky one.
Life will interfere, perhaps we won't feel like studying some day, or maybe we will forget to. That leads to more days being skipped, and the studying stagnating or stopping entirely. If we don't commit to this from day one and get our bodies [and minds] prepared for this very important part of our lives, it'll never become an important part of our lives.