Bible Journaling is a habit I reflective practice I started last year and it has been a great blessing to my life. Bible Journaling is simply illustrating a verse or a passage of the Bible with a drawing on the page. It’s a form of reflecting on God’s word. If you want to know what Bible Journaling is and how I got into it, you can see an old blog post I wrote on it here.
I absolutely love Bible Journaling because it has helped me focus more on what God is teaching me in my life. I find when I journal a truth found in God’s word, I remember it more vividly as I am going about my day and it influences me more in how I make my choices. For example, after I had journaled the page above I became more aware the God is my refuge and when I was feeling lost or in trouble or in pain. I began to take my worries to God more in prayer because I know He is my safe place, and then I worried less.
So, today I thought I would share my process for Bible Journaling. Lots of different people have different ways of journaling but this is the way that I have found suits me the best.
Choosing a passage to journal: I read my Bible daily but I only journal a passage about once every two weeks. As I read my Bible I have a stack of little post it notes. If I read a verse that seems specially interesting or powerful I will make a note on a post it with the reference and a summary of the verse. Then I use the post it note to bookmark the page. Later, when I am ready to do some journaling I leaf through the pages until I see a post it note that sparks my interest. Then I begin….
I keep my process written down on the card above and I work through each step as I go. Some people may find this too restrictive or like homework, but I find this a good framework for lightly studying the Bible and learning more about the passage.
1. Read, read and read again. I begin by reading the verse or passage three times in a row. It’s a bit of a strange thing to do but I do tend to see different things each time I read it. If possible I will read the passage out loud one of the times.
2. Who was the author and who was the audience? This is the point when I get out my notebook and laptop to do a little research. I tend to write out me answers to the questions on single page of my note book. The first question I ask myself is who wrote this bit of the Bible and who were they writing it for. This helps to place the passage in it’s historical setting. A lot of Bibles have an introduction to each book of the Bible that answer these questions but if your doesn’t then www.biblestudytools.com is a good place to look. Check out their summary of the book of Deuteronomy here.
3. Locate the text in it’s setting. By this I mean, what is going on in the wider story. Is this set in the early days of history with Noah and the Ark, or is this a romantic love story written in a time of peace and plenty. This question helps me to understand where the passage fits in the bigger picture.
4. Make connections. Does this passage remind me of other stories or symbols in the Bible? So, if I am studying Psalm 23 about the Good Shepherd, I might make connections to Jesus being the Good Shepherd, or to the parable of the lost sheep. Sometimes when I am journaling I will use the same colour tab to connect themes together, for example a green label means the passage is about fruitfulness.
5. Explore words or phrases Following on from step 4, if a word or a phrase jumps out at me, I might research other passages of the Bible that use the same phrase, or I might research the passage or read it in other translations to explore the true meaning more. This step can be a bit intimidating and I don’t do it every time, but it can lead to some fascinating discoveries.
6. What did God say or do? Back to a simpler question now. In the passage what did God say or do? Sometimes my answers are very simple; God healed Nahum. God warned the people not to worship idols.
7. What did the people say or do? Again, I write very simple answers; “Daniel prayed to God even when he was ordered not to”, or “the people didn’t listen to God and ran away to Egypt.”
8. What is the theme? By theme, I mean what is this passage about. Is it about love? Or hope? Or leadership? Knowing the theme is helpful in deciding what to draw or how to illustrate the passage.
9. What is the aim? What is the point of this passage? What moral does it want to teach? What truth is revealed? What action is inspired? My answers to this question include things like; “to encourage people to trust in Jesus”, or “to call us to love one another”.
10. Pray and draw. At this point I will pray about the passage, thank God for His word and the truth that He shares with me. And then I will begin to plan what to draw. I find that as I am answering the questions above ideas spring to mind fairly quickly of what images I would like to create on the page. If it is something complicated I will practice in a scrapbook before attempting it in my Bible. Sometimes, I do the study part one night, and then come back to the artwork a week later. I like to take my time so spreading it out over a couple of weeks works well for me.
And that’s my process! I hope that has been helpful to you. I’ll share another week about the art side of it and what materials I like to use. But for now I thought it was more helpful to share about the studying side because I think that is an area that more people struggle with. I find this framework really useful and I tend to pull more out of the passage by doing this, then I would by just sitting and thinking about it.
I would love to hear how other people approach it so let me know in the comments if you have your own way of Bible Journaling!