Online, community Bible studies have become increasingly popular over the last few years.
They provide an instant community with like-minded believers and many are Biblically based and sound.
The main drawback is that many of them offer pre-made study journals to either download and print yourself or to purchase and have mailed to you.
Usually, they are beautiful and provide ample space to study God’s Word. Some have pre-formed questions to help you use your time. Others have simple prompts that allow you to dig deep into your journaling.
They can certainly add to your quiet time but they can be expensive, especially if a new one is available every few weeks.
The good news is many of those online studies provide the daily Bible readings and devotionals online for free! You don’t have to purchase an additional study journal if you don’t want to. You can have access to them online, and in most cases, they make the past studies available online too!
I’ve purchased a few She Reads Truth study packs and have enjoyed them. The had beautiful printed Scriptures you could remove and frame, basic tips to get the most out of your study time but most importantly, they provided plenty of room to journal, write out Scripture, list prayers or space to doodle, if that’s your thing.
I will probably continue to purchase their study packs for the bigger studies that contain more of a book feel (like during the Lent and Advent season) but I simply can’t afford to purchase a study pack for every single study they offer.
I’m guessing most can’t either.
This year as I have immersed myself in God’s Word more than any other season, I have come to love journaling again. More specifically I have come to love writing out the Word.
My journaling has evolved over the years. When I was younger my journals were longer, written out prayers of situations and circumstances I was dealing with and my feelings. As I grew in my faith, I would still write out my prayers but more Scripture was included, along with quotes and inspirational messages from books I was reading or sermons I listened to.
These days my journaling is more Scripture-based and less written prayers. I still pray, but mostly my prayers are continued conversations with God throughout my day. I do still jot prayers down when they come to mind or prayer requests I have been asked to pray over but most of what I write in my journal is God’s Word followed by my interpretation of it or what I feel God is speaking to me.
Bible journaling is a simple method I have come to use and love this year but as I’ve shared this with more and more people, the same few questions get asked again and again. So to share with you my devotional process, I’ve answered those questions below.
What Do You Need to Bible Journal?
The simple answer is all you really need is your Bible, a pen and a piece of paper but I would definitely recommend using a notebook instead of just random sheets of paper. Notebooks keep everything together and organized.
Currently, I am using my super simple (and cheap) $0.15 spiral bound notebook I decorated last fall. It’s almost completely full so after that, I plan on using my Live Original notebook I purchased a few months ago.
Journals are also an excellent choice. I have a beautiful cloth bound journal from the Holley Gerth DaySpring collection. It’s book bound, lays flat, has a ribbon bookmark, and the pages are college rule lined (which is important to me). Plus while there are Scriptures, encouraging quotes and small embellishments throughout the pages, it is very minimal to not interfere with your journaling experience.
A good pen is important because you want something that writes well, doesn’t bleed through and isn’t going to smudge or leave ink stains on your hands. I personally love these pens but everyone has their own preference and I firmly believe, the type of pen you use does, in fact, improve or hinder your handwriting.
How Do You Bible Journal?
There is no right or wrong way, in fact, the most important thing to remember is to be in the Word first and foremost. Let God lead you through the Scriptures by praying before you even begin reading.
Since I’ve fallen in love with my method of Bible journaling, I’m going to share with you my simple method.
After spending a few minutes in prayer the very first thing I do is write down the Scripture references at the top of my page.
Currently, I’m reading through the book of Philippians with the She Reads Truth plan, so at the top of my journal I’ll write out the few Bible passages including the book, chapter and verse numbers. For example today I wrote out Philippians 1:3-11, Jeremiah 9:23-24, John 17:3 and 1 Peter 2:1-11.
The reason I list out the Scripture references first is that I have the daily reading plan emailed me to me. So I have to either turn on the computer or look at my phone first to get the day’s assignment. Writing them down allows me to know which verses to spend time in then I promptly close the computer or turn off my phone so I can be in the Word first before reading the corresponding daily devotion.
I open my Bible and start reading. If a verse or a passage stands out to me, I’ll write it out. If a thought or quote comes to mind, I write it down in my journal. Someday I would love to have an actual journaling Bible so I can write these bits of truths down right there next to the passage as I read but for now, my trust spiral bound notebook does the trick.
After I read through the daily Scripture and write down any thoughts I have, I’ll go back to the devotional to read their interpretation and insight. Many times I will jot down a quote or two or another inspired thought that comes to mind after reading.
Some days I use different colored pens to highlight verses or quotes where as other days I just write with the same color. I’m not a doodler or a drawer so my journal is only filled with words but I’ve seen many who express themselves through sketching through the Scriptures.
Why Should You Bible Journal?
I am a big proponent of the discipline of writing Scripture out. I’ve shared how it has completely transformed my faith but it also helps me to silence out the noise and distractions around me. Instead of simply just reading, or doing a super quick drive-by reading (where you just read but don’t remember a single thing), writing out Bible verses allows God Word to become deeply penetrated into your heart and mind.
Bible journaling also provides you a place to write down those inspired thoughts, connections, or anything else that comes to mind while you are reading through a specific passage.
If you are looking for a simple way to grow your faith while being intentionally in God’s Word, I recommend Bible journaling. It’s simple and effective enough for the new believer looking to know more about God and the Bible, yet it’s powerful for the faithful believer to really dig deep.