This article is part of our How to Study the Bible Series. Read the other articles in the series here:
- "Fight the Battle to Read Your Bible" by Kristie Anyabwile
- "When Bible Study Feels Impossible" by Brittany Allen
- "How Often Should I Study the Bible?" by Ashley Chesnut
- "How to Get in God’s Word Every Day" by Ann Swindell
- "How to Get Back on Track with Bible Study" by Lara d’Entremont
- "Eight Ways to Be in the Word in Every Season" by Titania Paige
- "How to Learn About God in Your Bible Study" by Lauren Washer
- "How to Learn About the Gospel in Your Bible Study" by Fernie Cosgrove
- "Should I Use a Commentary for Bible Study?" by Lara d'Entremont
Why Journaling the Word is Worth It
I was twelve years old when my youth leader handed me a journal and encouraged me to read my Bible every day. Desperate to please her, I heeded her advice. Each morning, I read my assigned Bible passages, picked up my journal, wrote down a brief response, and repeated it the next day. My leader and I met weekly to discuss what we had learned through our reading and journaling. Her investment in my spiritual life and the accountability she offered instilled in me a rhythm of regular Bible intake.
But as time went on, do you know what happened? I started to enjoy reading my Bible. I bought my own journals and wrote more than two sentences. And I discovered my need for God’s Word. As I grew in my understanding of God’s Word, my dependency upon Christ increased. Thoughts turned to study, study turned to prayers, and prayers turned to worship. Journaling God’s Word became an integral part of my relationship with Christ. I grew to love God and his Word through my study of the Scriptures. I believe the same can happen for you too.
Journaling God’s Word isn’t a formula for growth in Christ. However, journaling God’s Word does provide a way for us to engage our minds and hearts in a way that invites fellowship with God. Because we’re more likely to remember things we write down, journaling God’s Word keeps our minds focused throughout our study and helps the truth to stick. This process creates thoughtfulness, sparks curiosity, enables understanding, and moves us to worship.
Journaling God’s Word Creates Thoughtfulness
Now, you may be wondering, what does journaling God’s Word mean? Essentially, it’s writing down your thoughts, ideas, and responses to the truths you read in God’s Word in order to know him more. Some people journal by drawing or painting. Others use highlighters and pens to mark up the pages in their Bibles, then write out prayers and reflections in a separate notebook. Don’t get stuck on trying to journal perfectly; there’s no right or wrong approach.
If you’re like me, you get distracted when you sit down to read your Bible. Like a bee flitting from flower to flower, my mind goes from one thought to the next. Before I know it, fifteen minutes of my time in the Word have passed in nothing more than silent, random thoughts. But when I journal God’s Word, I’m able to concentrate on the words in front of me.
I find it helpful to write down the verses I’m reading (or at least portions of them). This enables me to focus on the biblical text. When I look back over the words, I note a number of things: repeated words or phrases, the structure of the passage, lists, parts of speech, and connecting thoughts. Even if we don’t write down the verses verbatim, we’re more likely to notice details if we jot down what we see rather than rushing through them in a quick read. Journaling God’s Word combines Scripture meditation with a research-proven method of remembering something better by writing it down.
Journaling God’s Word Sparks Curiosity
As we ponder our observations, our thoughtfulness will spark curiosity. Some call this interrogating the text. Similar to the dozen questions we might ask in order to get to know someone over coffee, this is what we do when we become curious about a passage of Scripture.
At this point, it’s very natural to begin asking questions. And no question is dumb or off-limits! This is one of the gifts of journaling. Your words are hidden between the pages of your journal, so you don’t have to worry about someone questioning your theological understanding or interrupting with their own commentary. Prayerfully pouring out your questions to the Lord is an act of faith and dependency. We’re trusting him to reveal himself to us.
If you’re like me, you’ll write out your questions. You might even draw arrows in your journal, circle words, and make lines, lists, or charts on the page. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written, “God, I just don’t understand what you’re saying here. Open my eyes. Teach me. Grant me understanding” (Ps. 119:18, 33, 169).
God is not overwhelmed by our questions. He delights in our curiosity and willingness to search the Scriptures.
Journaling God’s Word Enables Understanding
Curiosity can feel overwhelming, though, right? Sometimes we have more questions than answers. But this is actually a good thing, because the One who has the answers to our questions delights in answering us! As we bring our questions to him and take the time to seek answers, the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). It’s at this point that we begin to see fruit from journaling God’s Word.
Suddenly the questions we asked and the markings we made on the paper begin to make sense. Connections between phrases jump off of the page. Words we didn’t understand at first become clear in light of the other words in the text. God wants us to know him and he desires for us to know his Word.
He’s not hiding from us; rather, he promises that when we seek him wholeheartedly, we will find him (Jer. 29:13). His Word contains a storehouse of treasures: wisdom, knowledge, and truth (Prov. 2:1–7). All of Scripture is profitable for us, and the Holy Spirit will use the Word to make us more like Christ (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
Journaling God’s Word Moves Us to Worship
We can read God’s Word, study it, write down a million thoughts, and fill a decade worth of journals. Each sentence we write may be theologically sound and gospel-rich. However, if this is as far as we get, we’re missing out.
The best part of journaling God’s Word is the way this dialogue can move us to worship. As we read God’s Word, write down our thoughts in response, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our understanding, we will see wondrous things from his Word (Ps. 119:18). Like the psalmist, we will stand in awe of God’s Word and rejoice in its truth (Ps. 119:161).
After twenty-eight years of regularly journaling God’s Word, I can confidently say that engaging with God through his Word in this way can literally change your life. Not because you’re polished or profound with your words; your life will change as you engage your heart and mind with God’s Word and cultivate a relationship with the living Word.
Meet the Author
Lauren Washer is passionate about helping women to know and love God more through a deeper understanding of the Bible. She teaches the Bible and serves on the women’s ministry team at her local church. She and her husband Bradley live with their six children in Norfolk, VA. You can connect with her through her monthly newsletter, Hidden Treasure, or on Instagram.