Throughout our lives, we sometimes encounter situations that are difficult to overcome. And often, what we should do in those situations isn't immediately apparent. There are many sources of advice that people turn to during these trying times, and one of them is the Bible. Those who choose to do so may consider writing a Bible journal. As you study the passages of the Bible and relate their messages to what you're going through in life, you just might find the inspiration you need to get through the toughest of days.
A Bible journal is a hybrid diary where you keep both notes on your study of the Bible and a record of things that happen in your everyday life. Over time, as you analyze and study the Bible, you can apply what you've learned to your life experiences, which may make it easier to overcome difficult situations.
A Bible diary is a type of reflective journal where you use your study of the Bible as a guide to make sense of why certain things that you encounter in your life happen the way that they do, or are the way that they are. Doing so may prompt you to change your actions or perspective.
One of the big pitfalls of Bible study is simply reading a passage from the Bible and then getting on with your daily activities, instead of stopping to reflect on what that passage actually means. The act of writing in a Bible journal slows down your reading speed, and allows you to focus on particular Bible passages. This helps you better remember them and more effectively contemplate their meanings. It also helps you hone your focus, memory, and analytical skills in general.
Many religious people ask "What would God do?" or "What would Jesus do?" when faced with a difficult situation. Keeping a journal of your daily experiences alongside notes on your study of the Bible can help you more easily relate the lessons of the scriptures to what you do (or should do) in life. Making a habit of this can help prepare you better for the rough patches in life.
Prayers are a reflection of what you want, and who you want to be in life, so getting the most out of them requires actually knowing what you want at any given point in your life. That's where a Bible journal can come in handy. As you relate the passages of the Bible to your life experiences, you can more clearly articulate what you need – and what you're already thankful for – in your prayers. That's why it's helpful to keep a Bible journal alongside a prayer journal (and vice-versa).
Beginning your Bible study can be challenging if you don't know what you're looking for, or what you want to get out of it. Fortunately, there are a few starting points that you can use as the foundation for your Bible diary. We have some general journal prompts if you're totally stuck, but the following are four specific suggestions for laying the groundwork for your Bible journal.
Think about some core values you want to exemplify, and that you want to see from others in your life. Which ones are most important to you? Loyalty? Reliability? Open-mindedness? Compassion? Knowledge? Courage? Optimism? Pick your top five (or so) values and write them down. Then, as you record your Bible study notes alongside your daily activities, you can analyze advice that the Bible may have about achieving or applying your values. You can also analyze how well your actions fulfill your values, or perhaps how your values change over time.
As the old saying goes, "nobody is good at everything, but everybody is good at something." Write down a few areas you are gifted in, as well as a few that you believe you could improve upon. Keeping a Bible journal may help you find advice on how to use your talents to the best degree and purpose, as well how you might overcome your flaws.
Humans are social animals, so it's likely that you've formed a rapport with plenty of people throughout your life. However, some are more meaningful to you than others, such as those with close family members, best friends, bosses or workmates, significant others, and so on. Write down where your relationships with the most important people in your life are at, as well as where you want them to be at. Then, as you study the Bible, analyze it for advice on how to manage those relationships. You may find new ways to bridge a gap that forms between yourself and your parents or children, get along better with your boss and co-workers, or perhaps start, advance, or repair a relationship with your true love.
According to the standard Gregorian calendar, each week has 7 days. With 24 hours in each day, that means you have a total of 168 hours – or 10,080 minutes or 604,800 seconds – in each week to do stuff. Remember that you still have to eat, sleep, work, and take care of other responsibilities. So how much time do you feel you should devote to each activity that you do in order to balance out your life? As you study the Bible, make notes about advice on how to manage your time, as well as how to make time for important things that you may not have thought of before.
As you read passages of the Bible for study, keep in mind some of the prompts that we listed above (or your own prompts, if you have thought of some) and write down passages that contain keywords, phrases, or themes that are relevant to your prompts. Then, underline, circle, or highlight those key words or phrases, and write down the important themes in the margins of the journal. You may even want to create an index at the back of your journal that lists page numbers where passages on a particular theme can be found.
Sometimes, the emotions and thoughts provoked by a certain passage in the Bible can't be adequately summed up in a few key words or phrases. That's why a popular practice in Bible journaling is to not just write down passages from the Bible that stand out to you, but to draw pictures of what they make you think of and feel. Just make sure that your doodles don't obscure the passages too much, since you're going to need them for comparison's sake later!
On opposite pages from your Bible study notes (or perhaps in an entirely separate journal), write down what you are experiencing in life right now, good or bad, even if just for that day. As you study the Bible further, you can start to form relations between its passages and your life experiences. How closely do your actions follow the word of God? Does the Bible have some sort of advice on how to work through a particular scenario that you might be going through? By reflecting on the passages of the Bible and how they may relate to your life, you can find ways to grow as a person or navigate a difficult situation.
As you meditate on the meanings of various Bible passages and how they might inform your own life, you can get a better sense of what you're already doing well and what you might need to do to balance out your life. You can use these insights to form better prayers, whether they are simply gestures of gratitude towards God or requests for him to help you through a difficult period of your life.
This is why, as we noted before, it's often useful to write a Bible journal and a prayer journal at the same time. However, if you don't want to keep an entirely separate journal, feel free to write down prayers instead of Bible passages in your Bible journal on occasion.
There are actually some Bibles that are specifically designed with wide margins that you can write notes in. These are commonly referred to as "journaling Bibles," and can be purchased from many online marketplaces or certain specialized design websites. If you don't have one (or already have a regular Bible), then a common notebook will suffice.
As you'll see in the examples below, some people will stick to writing in their Bible margins or their notebooks, while others will circle, underline, or highlight words in the Bible, too. Some will even write and draw all over the page! So do whatever works for you; just make sure you can still read both the Bible and your notes!
Heart in the Margins – from the blog "The Thinking Closet," this is more of a Bible that's specifically designed for journaling, but it follows the same sort of principles. Notice that Lauren, the blog author, includes bookmarks that represent themes important to her life that she finds in the Bible.
This Good Morning Girl’s Bible Study Journal is AMAZING! – featured on the blog for Women Living Well Ministries. Not only does Shar, the journal's author, colour-code different passages in her Bible to reflect certain themes, but she visualizes them and analyzes what they mean to her in a separate journal. It's as creative as it is well-organized!
The core of a good Bible diary is studying the Bible, and there are a few different ways to approach doing so. Below are some sample worksheets that you can use as bases for setting up your Bible journal.
A Simple Bible Study Guide Bookmark & Journal Page – designed by author, public speaker, and Bible study teacher Rachel Wojnarowski. It also features a handy bookmark that summarizes some key questions to ask yourself when studying the Bible.
"I'm Listening to God" Bible study templates – created by Jack Gilbert. These templates give you a collection of different guidelines on how to study the Bible and apply it to your life.
Why just study the Bible when you can get so much more out of it by applying its lessons to your everyday life? Keeping a Bible diary can help you do just that. By following the word of God in good times and bad, you might find a new way forward in your life.
Penzu provides a free and secure place to start your Bible journal, whether you use the website or the mobile app. You can log as many entries as you want in it, and keep it safe with a password so that nobody but you can view it. In addition, your Penzu journal is available wherever you can take your mobile device or access the Internet, so you can start an entry in one place and finish it in another.