When I first became a Christian, I kept a Bible Study Journal. Or a prayer journal. It was kind of a combination of the two. I let the habit slide a bit as life got busier, but recently I’ve got back in to it.
Keeping a Bible study journal is incredibly valuable. If you want to grown in faith, I highly recommend it.
A Bible study journal keeps your quiet time focused
I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard to be disciplined about having a quiet time. To start with, I can never find the ideal time to do it. I’d suggest early in the morning, but that would mean getting up before Samuel – and he’s currently wide awake at 5am. But if you have a Bible study journal, you have something specific to do. That helps me to stay focused. I write, and often, I write without really thinking, just following my thoughts. That keeps me focused too.
A Bible study journal records your prayers
More specifically, it records your answered prayers. One of the most encouraging things to do is to look back through an old prayer journal and tick off how many prayers have been answered. This really helps to increase your faith.
A Bible study journal records your journey
Sometimes, I journal about things that are on my mind. It could be an experience I’ve had, or a question I’ve got. Perhaps I’ve read or heard something that I want to explore further. Looking back on these things is definitely helpful, as it helps you to realise where you’ve come from and how you’ve grown.
A Bible study journal can be adapted to however it works for you
Here’s the thing: there’s no right or wrong way to record your conversations with God. You can write out whole prayers if you like. Or write out Bible verses. You can draw or paint, or add in colouring sheets. I love writing (and find anything remotely arty very intimidating) so that works well for me. I’m also starting to incorporate some bullet journaling techniques into my Bible study journal.
I’ve designed a printable Bible study journal as part of my Faith Life Workbook. If you would like a copy, pop your email into this form.
A Bible study journal can be as flexible as you need it to be
I don’t journal every day. I’d like to, but I’m not that disciplined yet. Two or three times a week is working well for me at the moment. It’s better than I was doing a year ago, so I can see the growth! Something I’ve learned in this very busy season of life is to avoid doing things from a place of guilt, but to do things because we can. So I don’t feel guilty about not journalling every day. I do meditate on scripture and pray every day, but I don’t always write it out. Having a Bible study journal without dates, and without the expectation that I will complete it every day, takes away that guilt.
How to get started with a Bible study journal
Hopefully, last week, you completed the Spiritual Self-Assessment. If you didn’t, head over to this post: Spiritual Self-Assessment and give it a go. If you download the workbook, you don’t even need a notebook – each step is set out for you!
In the workbook, I’ve created a Bible Study Journal section. Each page is around A5 size. In the workbook itself, I’ve included 30 copies, so you could do it every day for a month before you run out of pages. But of course, you can always print out extra pages.
I like to date the top of the page and write down the Bible reference that I’m looking at on that day. Sometimes I’ll have a Mummy Meditations verse to look at; sometimes it’ll be something that has come up in church. At other times, I’ll use a Bible reading app like YouVersion.
Then, I’ll follow the SOAP Model:
Scripture: I might write it out (especially if it’s short). I might write out the key words and ideas. Or I’ll just read it.
Observation: This is where I’ll really write. I’ll pick out the key things that are important to me. I’ll write down questions I have. I’ll think of links with other verses.
Application: This is where I have to think, how does this apply to my life? I’ll jot down a few notes.
Prayer: Then I’ll pray about what I’ve thought. I’ll spend some time listening to God too, and I’ll pray for things that are on my prayer list.
This doesn’t actually take that long! It usually takes me 10-15 minutes.
Alternatives to SOAP
Sometimes, I’ll write out whole prayers. Other times, I’ll go on a keyword search. I might write out one verse, emphasising one word per sentence. Sometimes I’ll just mind-map things that I want to think over.
I think one thing that puts us off Bible study journalling is the idea of perfection: we want it to look beautiful and to be full of wisdom. But as I say so often, it’s a journey. It’s about moving closer to God, not about making things perfect for earthly eyes.
I would love to encourage you to start a Bible study journal this week. Give it a go, and let me know how you get on.