Journaling is a great interactive Bible study method. It helps you to interact with God’s Word by recording your thoughts on what you’re reading. Going back through your journal can help you reflect on what God has shown you in His Word. Your journal can be in your Bible, in a separate notebook, or even in a digital format. Your journaling method can be as simple as recording a thought about a passage, or as complex as developing a verse-by-verse commentary. Journaling is a great way to grow deeper in God’s Word.
Advantages of Journaling
Journaling your way through the Word of God has many advantages. For one, it causes us to slow down and look deeper at the text. It can be so easy to focus on breezing through as chapters a day as you can, but it’s also easy to breeze through those chapters and miss the details. Journaling helps us to slow down and look closer at what is going on or being said. It allows us to see things we might normally gloss over and not really see.
Journaling also helps in memorizing Scripture. I have a hard time memorizing Scripture. I can repeat a verse, or even write a verse over and over and it can still be difficult to remember. When I take my time and talk about a verse, whether I’m talking or writing, I often remember a verse without even trying.
Types of Journals
There are many options to keeping a journal. One popular method is to use a Bible made just for that purpose- a journaling Bible. A journaling Bible is a Bible with writing space; usually on the outside margin and ruled. Some leave one side of the page blank. You can also use a regular wide-margin Bible. I’m partial to the wide-margins available from Cambridge and LCBP. An advantage in using your Bible for your journal is that you will have created your own devotional Bible or a study Bible complete with notes. For my journaling I will use the Take Note Bible from Nelson. It is available in both KJV and NKJV for around $20.00.
Another option is to write in a notebook. The advantage to using a notebook is you are not limited to the space in your Bible and you can use any Bible.
You could print the Bible pages and write on the pages that you’ve printed. The advantage to this is you can print what you want when you want.
Another option is to keep your journal digitally. This includes a smart-phone, tablet, PC, laptop, blog, etc. The advantage to using a digital device, especially a PC, is that you can easily publish your work. This allows you to use your journal as teaching material, study material, blog posts, newsletters, devotionals, or even a book.
I really like journaling in a Bible, but I recommend starting out with pen and paper. Most people are reluctant to write in a Bible because they are afraid of making mistakes. Notebooks can be used anywhere and feels slightly more inductive. If you want to journal in a Bible, I recommend buying an inexpensive Bible for this purpose, but practice on paper first.
The most important thing is to get a journal that you feel comfortable writing in and put it to use.
How to Journal
Whether you follow a reading plan or just read what you feel lead to, journaling is a great benefit to your daily devotional routine. Here are a few tips to get started. You can use any one or all of these tips in any way that works for you. This list is not exhaustive, but it might help get you started:
- Always start with prayer
- Read the whole chapter first
- Reread a passage several times
- Look for the main points
- Summarize the main points
- Pray for guidance
- Write down your thoughts on those points
- Write down your observations
- Write down any definitions that help you to understand the passage
- Write down any references to similar verses
- Write questions and answers you have about the text
- Make sure to keep everything in its proper context
- Use more than one translation if you need to
- Write down how this point applies to your life
- End with prayer
What to Write With
Pigma Micron markers work the best for me. They are archival quality and do not run, smear, or fade. They have very little bleed-through and come in many colors. You can use any pencil or pen that will write well in your Bible or journal, but Pigma Micron is my choice.
My time for journaling at least a few times per week. Don’t get in a hurry. Don’t feel like you have to journal through the Scriptures by a set time (like once per year). Journaling is different from reading. You might read the Bible through in a year (or more), but you might spend a week journaling just one chapter or passage. That’s OK. The purpose of journaling is to dig deeper into God’s Word, and that takes time.
Pray at each point. Start with prayer. Observes the Scriptures, and then pray about your observations. Pray about the application, and then apply the Scriptures. Finish with prayer, and then share with someone else what God has shown you in His Word.
What do you do with your journal when you’re done? I like using my journal to reflect on what God has shown me in the Scriptures. I also like using my journal as a teaching tool- both for developing lessons and for teaching from. If I’ve journaled in my Bible, then my Bible could be a good study Bible or carry Bible.
There’s no better time to start than now.