Devotional Time and Bible Study: Is there a difference?

Open bible with a pen, overlay with the title of the article "Devotional Time and Bible Study is there a difference?"Difference between devotional time and bible study

We are encouraged in church to study the Bible, but at the same time we are encouraged to have devotional time. While writing the Useful Tips for your Bible Study, I would talk to my husband about whether there is a difference between Bible study and devotional time.

What is a Bible Study?

Studying the Bible, as we have seen previously, is to make an intentional reading with the purpose of knowing God, understanding what we read in its context so that we can then apply it to our reality today.

What is a devotional time?

The word devotional means something related to devotion, and devotion is the act of dedicating something to a cause, enterprise, or activity. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that devotion is the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal.

We could define devotional time as a time in which we carry out activities that help us grow our dedication and love for God with the purpose of being loyal to Him.

The difference between the two

The most significant difference between studying the Bible and having a devotional time is the main focus or purpose. By studying the Bible, our goal is to learn more about its content. As we read, we analyze the Scriptures to learn more about God, his character and his work in us.

On the other hand, devotional time focuses on reading the Bible to grow our love for God and respond in obedience and loyalty.

What does this difference look like in practice?

In a Bible Study, we must follow a method that guides us to ask questions to understand what we are reading. Because this process is more complex, it will require more time and intentionality; as it can be a bigger challenge.

In a devotional time, we read the scriptures a little more casually and focus on two questions: What does the passage tell me about God? What does it say about me? Answering them leads me to fulfill the purpose of the devotional, to grow our affection and dedication; that will move us to obedience.

Do I need to do both?

We have noted that there is a difference between the two, but we must emphasize that our greatest need is to spend time in the Word. We must have a balance between developing biblical knowledge and growing in our devotion. 

Furthermore, we could say that Bible study nourishes our intellect and devotional time nourishes our heart, what we need to remember is that to be healthy we require a balanced spiritual nutrition.

Knowledge of Biblical facts, memorizing the Bible without any kind of affection, is not healthy. Neither is it, to say that we love and obey God if we do not know and understand his Word. 

As we find the balance between the two, it will be a bit difficult for us to see the difference. For as we grow in our faith and spiritual disciplines, we will yearn to understand what we read, and as we do so, our devotion will grow.

Devotional Time and Bible Study: Is there a difference? 4

How do I prepare to have a devotional time?

Similar to when we go to study the Bible, find an appropriate place where you can eliminate distractions and devote your attention to reading and meditation. Some tips that I can share for this time are:

  1. Determine the time you have available. 10 minutes focused on Bible meditation is more beneficial than an hour, stopping multiple times to look at your mobile notifications.
  2. Pray for the time you spend in the Word to be effective, how do we know it was effective? Are you knowing God more? Is your love and obedience to Him growing?
  3. Read the portion you will be meditating on and answer the two questions: What does it tell me about God? What does it tell about me?
  4. Respond in worship and prayer. Based on how you have answered the questions, take time to worship the Lord for who He is. Pray for yourself and others, guided by the Word.
  5. Take notes of what you have learned and share it with others, starting with your family.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:5

What do I need to do a devotional?

All you need is your Bible and your disposition. You could add a notebook to take your notes and that’s it. I want to make a clarification, since many people associate devotional time with books that fall into this category within bookstores. These books, while they can be helpful, are not essential to our devotional time.

I have nothing against books in this category, in fact, I have published one, right now is only available in Spanish. But I do need to warn you that just because a book falls into the devotional category, unfortunately it does not ensure that it will be a good resource. 

If the devotional book only shares: stories from their personal experience, stories with merely moral lessons, or just a Bible verse, but it does not help you grow in your knowledge, love, and obedience to God, it is not a good resource.


Simple answer, there is a difference between Bible study and devotional time. One is deeper and requires more time. While the other, it can be simpler. However, both are necessary for us to grow in the knowledge of God and His Word, responding in obedience and love.

Do you have separate times in your week to dedicate to studying the Bible and growing your devotion?

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