What is Bible Journaling?
If you would like to listen to a reading of this article then go to purefaithpodcast.com.
From episode 17 (It’s Prayer Mini Series Time!!!) to episode 28 (Forgiveness…Part 2!!!) we discussed prayer on the Pure Faith Podcast. I know that is a lot of episodes on prayer, but the sad part is that we never actually finished. So, somewhere in the future, we will be circling back around and finishing our discussion on prayer. For now, however, I wanted to give all of you some options for journaling your prayers, doing devotionals, or other types of at home bible study that can help you to, not only strengthen your prayer life, but to develop a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God.
This article is going to be generalized because there are just so many options for journaling out there. My goal is to give you some general guidelines, tips and ideas to help you start a journaling routine. Let’s start with what journaling even is. You may have journaled as a child, or at least knew somebody who did, but you may have grown out of it. That is normal, because for most people, as they get older, they become more self conscious about the idea of journaling. However, journaling is a great outlet to get things off of your chest and mind, but it could also be a way for you to study and retain information. This comes in useful when we look at what we are discussing today which is all about journaling about the Bible. Let's start by explaining what journaling is and then look at a few different areas where you could use journaling.
What is Bible Journaling
Bible Journaling is simply the act of reading through a verse or passage of scripture, spending some time meditating on what you read and then writing down your own interpretation of what you read. There really isn’t any right or wrong way of journaling. It is all based on what you like and how you like to do it. There are some journals out there that have more structure to them much like the one in this picture:
This particular journal has different areas in the journal with different themes. The idea behind this is the same as all journaling, but they just break it down into areas to make it easier for you to sort out your thoughts. There are similar types of journals that use methods like ACTS or SOAP to help you organize your thoughts and methods of journaling. If you don’t know anything about these methods then check out our blog posts “ACTS Prayer Model” and “SOAP Bible Study Method” for more information. Also, if you are interested in finding a bible journal then you can look at christianbook.com as well as on Amazon. However, these types of structured journals are not required. All you need is a bible passage, paper and a pen or pencil to get started. Unless you are like my wife, then you will need all kinds of arts and crafts in order to do your journaling. If that is the case then you can search for journaling supplies on Amazon to get all the supplies you could possibly need. If you don’t need all that stuff then you are ready to start journaling. Just remember to be as free as you can possibly be and don’t rush through anything. This is about developing a closer relationship with Jesus.
Journaling Through Devotionals
Now that you have an idea of what journaling is and a few methods of journaling, we can look at some other applications for it. One possible place where you could journal is through a daily devotional. Devotionals come in all sorts of topics and formats. When it comes to picking a devotional, it all comes down to personal preference and interest. If you are interested in finding a devotional then Christianbook.com has a large selection of devotionals by a lot of great authors, but if you prefer Amazon, you can find what you need there as well. You just need to find one on a topic that you find interesting and that you will be willing to devote the time to reading.
Let’s remember, however, that this is about the journaling aspect of devotionals and not about the devotionals themselves. Therefore, when you do find a devotional that you like, then incorporate journaling into that devotion time. Simply read your devotion, meditate on what it says and how it applies to your life, and then write that all down. That is what journaling is all about. Reading, meditating and then writing down your thoughts.
Another form of journaling that we talked about on the podcast is journaling your prayers. This form of journaling is an excellent way to journal. It not only gives you a record of your prayers, but it allows you to change, modify and grow your prayers, and therefore your prayer life. This concept of journaling is very straightforward. You simply write down your prayers to God. I know that for me personally, when I try to just pray from thought or memory, I always forget something or get lost in my words. When you journal those prayers, it makes things more streamlined. It takes most of the human error out of the prayer, but if you do forget something then just make a note. You can go back and add that in for the next time you use that prayer. Another thing that I love about journaling your prayers is that you can really focus on the specific attributes of God that you want to highlight. You can do this by adding scripture to your prayer that you may not normally be able to memorize. Just remember not to get too wordy or redundant with your prayer. We want to avoid being like the hypocrites and pagans that Jesus warns us about in Matthew 6:5-8. Keep it short, to the point, but powerful. Journaling your prayers will greatly increase your prayer power and prayer life.
There are many ways that you can apply journaling to your current study habits. This application isn’t a complete guide, but just a guideline for you to find your own path. Everybody’s path is different and unique. You don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. Be who you are and study the way that is most powerful for you. Journaling is all about developing a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God. I say that so you don’t think that this following application is the only way for it to work. I just like the following concept, so let’s get into it.
As you listened to our podcast, you may have had the thought that you would like to start on a journaling adventure of your own. You get online and find a journal that you want to use. You then find a devotional that you find interesting and want to work through. Well, you are on a good path so far because you can use that devotional as a starting point for your journaling. Somewhere along the way, you are going to start to feel inspired and develop a desire for more. If you haven’t felt that yet, then just keep working on it. If you have been journaling for a while and still haven’t found that drive yet, then get a different devotion on a completely different topic. Change things up, but more importantly, pray about it. You will eventually find yourself wanting more, and when you do then add a personal bible study into your studying routine. Again, a simple search on Christianbook.com or Amazon will get you a bible study that should interest you. I highly suggest that you find a bible study that is either on the same topic as your devotion, or is at least in line with the theme of the devotion that you chose. Pairing the two together will really give you a boost in your understanding of the topic chosen because you will now be getting information from multiple directions.
Now, let’s suppose that you finished your first devotion and bible study and you are ready for more. You feel the Holy Spirit working in your life and you are on fire for the Lord. Another step you can take is to start your own small group or join a small group from your local church. This is similar to doing your own personal bible study, but you will be surrounded by some close friends and/or family. Then again, they could just be some people you recognize from church but don’t really know anything about. Both scenarios are perfect. You can now select a devotion or personal bible study that pairs with the small group bible study that you are doing. You could suggest or encourage the others in your small group to get the same devotional and personal study as you so you can discuss them at your weekly meetings. Remember, this is all about journaling. This means that you should be journaling every aspect of this scenario. I have found that it is difficult to journal in a small group. It is possible, but I feel that a small group needs to be an open discussion and just taking notes works better than trying to journal. You could, however, journal through your notes shortly after the small group when everything is still fresh on your mind. Again, I tend to recommend journaling through your devotions, your personal bible study and your prayers. You could recommend setting aside some time at your small group for others to share what they have journaled, but most people are very private about that stuff.
I honestly believe that a combination of journaling your devotions, personal bible studies, and prayers, combined with attending a small group, is the best approach to getting the most out of this life here on earth. Remember that when you are selecting your devotional and bible studies that you make sure the topics lineup with one another. When everything lines up topically in all the aspects of your study life then you will get more out of your time and effort. If you do start your own small group then you can all work together in furthering your knowledge. Once you are done with that initial topic that you chose, then let somebody else from your small group choose the topic for your next devotion and bible study. Eventually you will have a nice flow going and covering many different biblical topics and developing a better understanding and love for Christ. The deeper you understand the bible then the deeper your relationship with Jesus can be, and the more you learn and grow, the better your faith life will be. However, it all goes back to the simple formula of what journaling even is: read a scripture, meditate on what it means and how it applies to your life and then write down your thoughts and feelings in order to help you grow as a Christian. Again, be creative in your methods and don’t forget to pray about it!!!
For more articles from us then check out our review of "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman or our article on "United Marriage Encounter." You can also read more about prayer in "ACTS Prayer Model," "SOAP Bible Study Method" or "PRAY Acronym."