Search for Your Own Topics

A Logos user recently contacted me with the following scenario:

I’m doing a series of sermons on the subject of prayer. I’d like to devote a message on the hindrances to prayer. What’s the best way to locate information from my books about this topic?

I really enjoy questions like this because it sets up one of my favorite Logos searches: a proximity search with groups of words.

Before showing you how it works I’ll explain why you want to use it. If we just executed a word search on prayer we’d get tons of hits most of which having nothing to do with the hindrances to prayer. On the other hand, if we implement a phrase search for hindrances to prayer the author would have to use that exact phrase for Logos to return a hit.

So on the one hand, a word search is too broad, but on the other hand, a phrase search is too narrow.  Hence we need a proximity search which in essence becomes a “topic” search.

Give this a try:

  • Click the Search icon in the upper left of the program
  • Select Basic as the search type (A)
  • Select All Resources from the books to search drop down list (B)


  • Choose the Search panel menu and indicate these choices: (C)
    • De-select Match case (we do NOT want the search to be case-sensitive) (D)
    • Select Match all words forms (we do want to locate any forms of our words) (E)


  • Place this text in the Find box: (hinder,hindrance,obstacle) WITHIN 4 words (pray,prayer,intercession) (F)
  • Press the Enter key to generate the results (G)
  • Arrange the results By Resource (H)


  • Check out some of the hits in the image:
    • greatest hindrance to prayer (I)
    • hinder your regular prayer times (J)
    • main hindrance in their prayer life (K)
    • hinder our praying (L)


Please note these observations about the search query:

  • We’re looking for any form of the words in the first group when they appear within 4 words of any form of the words in the second group
  • The WITHIN command must be all caps
  • The comma inside the groups is an OR command
  • We typed pray and prayer as well as hinder and hindrance separately, because Match all words forms does not recognize these as forms of the same word
  • The only unit of measurement for proximity is words
  • The 4 could be any number, but it needs to be small so the words on the page have a relationship to one another
  • Synonyms for hinder go in the first group while synonyms for pray or prayer go in the second
  • Use as many synonyms as you like in each group as long as you separate them with commas

As I mentioned earlier, this is one of my favorite Logos searches. I use it all the time in my personal study. With this query you basically create your own topical search! Of course, not all of the hits will be exactly what you’re looking for, but most of them will be right on target!

Try this same query with subjects like:

  • purpose of worship
  • love of money
  • reason for redemption
  • cause of addiction

For further training on Searching, as well as the many other Logos features, consider attending an upcoming Camp Logos in Modesto, CA or Greensboro, NC!

9 thoughts on “Search for Your Own Topics

  1. >>We typed pray and prayer as well as hinder and hindrance separately, because Match all words forms does not recognize these as forms of the same word<<

    Thanks, that is useful.
    I appreciate that there is nothing you can do about this but the next question (rhetorical of course) is "How can we know what words will not be recognised as forms of the same word?" I would have thought that pay and prayer would be assumed by most people to be covered by Match All Words Form.

    1. I second this question for the exact same reason. How did you know that those words weren’t recognized as Forms of the same word? Do they not have the same root? Is that how we should determine this?

      1. It seems to me that it’s because one is a noun and one is a verb. This is true for both word pairs – “prayer and pray” and “hindrance and hinder.” This is how lemmas work in Logos, so I assume it’s true here, too.

  2. I use this kind of search all the time! I do not know if other software offers this powerful tool but I consistently “sell” LOGOS to others with just this one feature! This is the kind of search and information that would be nearly impossible to achieve in a physical library of books! I was surprised to learn that “pray” and “prayer” are not related and need to be typed separately? Is there some kind of “rule” that would help us identify when we actually need to spell out and use the “OR” function of the comma separations in parenthesis?

  3. See this

    A Sermon
    “That your prayers be not hindered.”—1 Peter 3:7.
    C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 20 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1874), 505.

  4. Morris,
    I’ve attended two of your camps and have been a Logos user since the late 80’s. I have a question about building personal books. I have several personal books and I wonder if there is a way to tag those books where they will be searched when I open the sermon guide or the sermon starter. For example I have some theology books I’ve built. Is there a way to index those book the guide would search them along with my other theology books? Also my personal books are not referencing the page number when I copy and paste from them. Is there are way to solve these problems?


    1. Hello Mr. Embry,

      There is a way to answer your question but it is a bit complicated. You will not be able to add personal books in the Systematic Theology set since that is defined by Logos. What you can do is create a collection of your personal books and then create a custom guide and add a section called Collections and then search your books there. Also in order to make them have page numbers, you will have to create page number milestones. I think we have a video about that in our resources.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Morris,

        I have one more question on building books. How can I format the book I build so that each chapter will show in the side bar on the left hand side when the book is opened? When I create a book it only shows the title of the book. How can I change the formatting so it will show each chapter?

        Thank you,

        Don Embry

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