Another valuable form of active reading is taking notes. At first it might sound strange that writing be can part of reading, but writing lets us interact with the text. Interacting with the text helps you pull out the main points, which helps you to get a deeper understanding of the text. It also helps in memorizing Scripture.
There are many ways you can take notes. Notes can be in your Bible, in a notebook, on your computer, on your smart-phone, or any other method you can think of. Some of my notes are stored on my website (that’s one reason it exists). I recommend trying as many methods as you can to see what works for you. I use more than one method.
One method of writing would be writing notes in the margin of your Bible. I highly recommend a wide-margin Bible for taking notes. I write in the margin of my Bible mostly during reading and study. The advantage of a wide-margin Bible is that you will have your notes with you where-ever you have your Bible.
I also recommend using a notebook. In Church, I write my notes in my notebook and transfer important points that I want to have reference to in the margin of my Bible. The advantage of a notebook is that you are not as limited in writing space and I don’t have to worry about my handwriting. I recommend a wide-margin Bible and a notebook for added space and quick note-taking. This allows me to be more careful about how I write in my Bible.
Another valuable tool for writing notes is a computer. Using your PC for notes gives you the added benefit of copy and paste, and virtually unlimited space. When you’re finished you can print the notes for reference, for teaching, preaching, publishing, etc.
Using your smart-phone has the benefit of having your notes with you. There are plenty of mobile Bibles that allow you to link your notes with the text (I like OliveTree and Laridian). It can be difficult to write extensive notes on some smart-phones. You can write your notes on a PC and then transfer them to your smart-phone.
Some of the main things I write when reading actively are:
- Summarizing the text
- Writing any thoughts I’ve had about the passage
- Definitions I want to remember
- References to other verses
- Lists of the major topics and key points, people, places, etc.
I also like to write about verses. I like to choose a verse that speaks to me and write a paragraph or two about it. Writing about a verse helps me to remember it. I’ve spent lots of time trying to memorize Scripture by quoting, and even writing it over and over, but when I teach the verse or write about it I have an easier time memorizing it. This is because I am working with the text in an active manner, rather than simply repeating the verse.
Another valuable note-taking tool is writing an outline. You can write an outline for a passage, chapter, book, or even the whole Bible. With outlines, you can be as simple or as complex as you want. For example, in Genesis chapter 1, you can write “Creation”, and then go on to the next section, or you can write “Day 1”, “Day 2”, etc. in order to get more specific. You can start simple and get more detailed later. You can use your outlines for personal study, teaching, preaching, or even writing.
Note-taking can be a priceless addition to your Bible reading. The key is to interact with the Scriptures. Write down points from God’s Word that speak to you. Write down important people and events that you can relate to. Write about anything that you want to learn more about. Writing helps us to grow in God’s Word and to apply His Word to our lives.