TRIP At Last

TRIP at last

I think I promised to explain the TRIP method for Bible study. Here goes.

The TRIP method was first explained to me in the book Daily Texts published annually by Mount Carmel Ministries. They borrowed their idea from Martin Luther. I somewhat modified their idea as I grew in study. Feel free to try it and revise it to fit your needs.

After I had spent most of a year simply reading and meditating in no particular form on the texts for each day, I decided to try the TRIP method. This method emphasizes an important truth about Bible study: Bible study is integrally related to prayer. You really can’t do one without the other. They belong together. They are two disciplines, but like the chicken and the egg, it is quite difficult to discern which comes first. The TRIP method incorporates them into one process.

You can read any text and use the TRIP method, although it would be best to use it for a relatively concise text. A long rambling story might be difficult to analyze and filter with this method, although it could certainly be done. You begin by simply reading the text, and you may want to read it more than once. Then you ask yourself four simple questions:

  • What in this text makes me feel thankful?
  • What in this text calls me to repentance?
  • What am I motivated to pray for after reading this text?
  • What do I plan to do today about what I have learned in this text?

The TRIP method is easy to remember:

  • P – PROMISE (or PLAN)

I am an inveterate journaler, so I use a small notebook to write down my answers to the simple questions. Here is what a day’s journal entry might look like:

* * * * *

The texts: Proverbs 37:8, James 1:19

You can write out the texts if you think that will help you study and meditate on them, or you can simply note the reference. I have done it both ways. For this sample, I write the text to prevent the need for you to look it up.

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret – it only leads to evil. Proverbs 37:8

Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19

T – Thanksgiving

I am very thankful for this reminder that angry outbursts accomplish nothing good. I have a quick temper, and when I feel frustrated, it often bursts out against the very person I love most. Often we are both upset by the same circumstances, and hateful words only make things worse. I am also grateful that with the warning comes the solution – listening. Whenever I am patient enough to listen instead of blurting out my anger, the situation always improves. I need this reminder. (I happened upon this reading the day after a key engine part on our boat failed to work, and we were stuck buying a new one while in a foreign country. Yup. I was angry.)

R – Repentance

It is easy to see what I need to repent of. I need to ask God and my husband to forgive me for shouting and pouting. That is no way to treat someone I love who is in the same boat – quite literally – as I. We have a problem. We don’t need to rag on each other about it. We need to help each other. Solving this problem will not be easy. I am very sorry I spouted off in anger yesterday.

I – Intercession

I need to confess my sin to God and ask his forgiveness. I need to do the same with my husband. I’m using the word sin advisedly. Worshiping self is the major sin of all humans, and until I topple SELF off the throne of my heart, I will continue to feel entitled to be angry about the way this situation is a big pain. O Heavenly Father, please forgive my hasty, angry words, and please put it in my husband’s heart to forgive me as well.

P – Promise

I like to use the word “promise” instead of “plan” because I want to be committed to do it. I promise that today I will listen attentively to God and to my husband as we work through the solution to our problem. Make me a servant listener. May my listening spirit be inspired to serve God and to serve people more faithfully today and into the future instead of focusing on my ego and the way it feels.

So, that is a TRIP Bible study and prayer. As you can see, prayer is interwoven into even this very simple Bible study method. Prayer is crucial, because when we study the Bible, we are not trying to learn a lot of intellectual things. We will certainly improve the intellect by Bible study, but that work is pointless unless it changes us into more faithful disciples. Knowing God’s teaching about anger is completely useless unless I recognize that I need to learn how to manage my anger and stop worshiping my own world view. Bible study and prayer, or prayer and Bible study. The two interlaced disciplines open us to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and that is the real point of it all. It can be a real TRIP!