Tips On How to Keep a Bible Study Journal

Journal pages.1Ok, you guys, here is a page from one of my personal Quiet Time Journals. Ignore the spelling and grammar errors, please. 🙂

Keeping a Bible study journal is my favorite way to engage with Scripture in my quiet time.

It helps me process what I’m reading and slows me down so what I’m reading can penetrate my heart—and change my life. It’s also a way for me to have a conversation with God. He teaches me through His Spirit as I study and I respond in my journal.

But first, so we’re on the same page, how do I view Quiet Time?

For me it’s a time to engage in and enhance my relationship with Jesus; much like going on a date with my husband or having coffee with a friend enhances my relationship with people in my life. My Quiet time is an opportunity to get to know Jesus more as well as understand who I am because I’ve surrendered my life to Him. It’s a time to grasp the history and foundations of what I hold dear and to fortify my trust in God.

Jeremiah 29_13

So if you explored my journal a little further you’d see it looks more like a conversation with God because that is what we do when we study His Word. He is teaching us through His Spirit. Opening our heart and mind to the wonderful truths, promises, and teaching He has for us. And we have to privilege to respond.

Before I crack open my Bible, I come before God in worship and praise. I confess my sins and ask for forgiveness. Then I ask Him to open my heart and mind to His Word. For His Spirit to teach me. To give me insight. Wisdom. Understanding. I also ask for the perception and discernment I need to apply and live out what I’m learning. Finally, I boldly ask Him to penetrate and illuminate the dark recesses of my heart—the areas I’ve hidden from myself and others. The areas I don’t want touched but need to have excavated.

After Amen, I open up my Bible and journal and grab my highlighter and colored pen of the day.

Quick Note: During my Quiet Time I never use Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, concordances, or commentaries (aside from the one at the bottom of the page in my Bible.) Afterward, yes. But not during. I want that time alone between me and God. I don’t want anyone else’s voice there.

My journal entries include:

  • Questions
  • Thoughts
  • Prayers
  • Praise
  • Worship
  • Confession
  • Repentance
  • Asking for
    • More understanding
    • The teaching I read to penetrate my heart and life

I often put myself into the scenario

  • What would I see, feel, hear, think, taste, experience
  • How would I respond, behave, etc.
  • Sometimes, I put myself into other people’s sandals
    • Maybe because I identified with them or would like to
    • Maybe because I want to see the events through their eyes
  • Verses that stand out

What I’m reading that day determines how much Scripture I write in my journal. I usually study a book of the Bible, and I keep a separate journal for each book I study.

Journal pages.2

My Bible Study Process

Read Through

Depending on the length of the book, I will read the whole thing through once in one sitting, taking random notes as I go. Short books, like Paul’s letters, I read in one sitting. Longer books, like the Gospels, Romans, and much of the Old Testament, I break down in 15-30 minute sessions over a few days. I record,

  • Main themes
  • Repeated words or Phrases
  • I always take note of the word, “But” because there is something amazing, shocking, exciting, sad, etc.
  • Shifts in focus and writing
  • Whatever pops out at me
    • A verse
    • A phrase
    • An idea
  • Prayers

Jeremiah 31_33

Section by Section

My Life Application Study Bible has each book broken down into headings and subheadings (I love that! Makes things easier for me.)

  • I already have an overview of the book, now I get to dig in a little deeper.
    • I will read the section through once taking a few notes as I go. (See above)
    • I will write out the key verse or verses.
  • Then I will read it again.
    • This time I put myself into the story, or directly into the shoes of the one reading the letter or receiving the teaching.
      • Sometimes I’m a bystander, a fly on the wall.
      • Other times, I’m one of the people.
      • This is where I actively engage with the text.
  • Then I read it one more time…how does this apply to me?
    • Here?
    • Now?
    • As a woman, a wife, a mother, a mentor, a teacher, a friend, a writer, an aspiring author, a _______________ in the 21st century?
  • This is also when I ask God which (if any) verse would be best to memorize, to write on my heart.
    • Then I write it on a 3×5 card and work on it

2 Timothy 3_16

Verse by verse

  • This is when I write out the 1-3 verses for the day.
    • I want to be sure I focus in on a complete thought.
  • I circle the keywords or phrases that pop out to me.
  • I meditate on these verses and how they relate to the big picture (context)
    • Surrounding verses
    • Section
    • Chapter
    • Book
    • Testament
    • Entire Bible

This is when I find myself spending more time in prayer, and writing those prayers out as I wrestle with The Words on the page. This is my favorite stage because this is when the Word gets personal. When the Spirit whispers encouragement, reassurance, blessings to my heart—or hits me over the head with the Holy 2×4. This is where I grow the most in my Spiritual life. But I have to go through the book and sections first before I can get to this point—or I miss major details.

Also, there’s something about writing the Word of God out in your own hand. Not just because of the kinetic learning thing, but there is a Spiritual thing here too. I’m not sure I can explain it. But His Word penetrates deeper into my heart the more I do it.

John 1_1

When I prepare to teach on something I studied in the past, or I restudy something from a few years ago, I use my old journals. It’s amazing to see where I’ve been and where I am now. My journals a roadmap of my Spiritual growth. My ups and downs. My seasons of closeness to God and my wilderness wanderings. My times of great hope and excitement and moments of despair and uncertainty. But I can see God’s hand, leading, and guidance through all of it. And revisiting my journals always makes my faith explode because over and over I see the faithfulness of God and His great love for me.

Beloved, Bible study journaling does not have to be a profound, formal, or intimidating thing. It’s a learning thing. A tool to help you engage with God’s Word and deepen your relationship with Him. How I do my journal may not be how you want to do yours. Experiment, try new things. The key is, read God’s Word. Study it. Engage with it. Apply it. Let it change your life and perspective.

Blessings! xoxoxo

Cheyenne


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2 Comments on “Tips On How to Keep a Bible Study Journal

  1. Pingback: Tips On How To Keep A Prayer Journal – Vibrant Relevance

  2. Pingback: Goal Setting Part 4: Revamping our Spiritual Life – Vibrant Relevance

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