This post describes the basics on how to start Bible journaling for beginners. The article is written for people who have never done Bible journaling before.
My Starting Place
I personally had never heard of Bible journaling until I started Christian blogging a few months ago (2018). Other Christian bloggers told me that Bible journaling is a creative way to engage with scripture. It is all about reading and studying the Word in creative ways. It can transform the way you spend time with the Word.
My first step to start Bible journaling was to purchase a very simple book for beginners on this topic. The one I bought was Bible Journaling: A Life-Changing Journey Along the Pages of God’s Word by Mitzi Smith. If you are interested in going deeper than what this post describes, please read her book.
What is Bible Journaling?
In her book, she defines Bible journaling as “a spiritual discipline recording the path of our journey with God to show us where we came from, where we are going, and to clarify our thoughts as we learn and grow along the way. As we pray, study Scripture, and listen, we chronicle our thoughts about those experiences. ”
Are there Different Methods of Bible Journaling?
I originally thought you had to be a fine artist to do Bible journaling. (You will see clearly below that I am not!).
Please be reassured, you do not need to be an artist to do Bible journaling. There are many methods for different personality types to partake in Bible journaling.
You can also do your journaling in a special Bible designed for journaling (has extra wide margins to journal in) or in a separate notebook.
In her book, Mitzi describes 6 methods. These include free writing, dialogue journaling, list making, character sketching, topic sketching, and bible art journaling.
Briefly, this is what the different methods involve:
First, read scripture and pray. Then free write whatever comes to mind into a notebook.
Write down your prayers and thoughts to God in dialogue mode. Record anything you hear back from God in His Word or in your heart. This is also usually done in a notebook.
After reading a chapter or book in the Bible, write a list. List out topics, words, questions, and thoughts. Notice any topics or words which come up repeatedly for you in study. Then do a concordance study on them and write the answers God is giving you.
Identify a biblical character and write out everything you learn about them. Pay special attention to the person’s values and personality. Record any lessons from this person’s life.
Topic sketching is like a word study. The focus is to choose a topic or word then go deeper looking up additional references Those references may be concordances, different versions of the Bible, or commentaries. Please also see my post on how to do a topical Bible study. Please see also this list of free online Bible study tools and apps which will support you in topic sketching.
Bible Art Journaling-
Bible art journaling is traditionally what you will see on Instagram when you search Bible journaling. It is one form of Bible journaling that focusses on creative expression. People use all kinds of art media to create text and images related to the scripture they are studying. This is done either in a notebook or inside their special journaling Bible.
9 Practical Tips to Start Bible Journaling as a Total Newbie
Beginning your Bible journaling adventure 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.
Don’t be in a hurry. It is easy for us to be in a hurry to quickly read a text and move on with the demands of the day. If we really want to enjoy our time with God’s Word and Bible journaling, there is a necessity to slow down so that we can get a fresh perspective as we approach God’s Word.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the Word to you. The Word of God is so much deeper than the stories we read. There are deeper mysteries for everyday living that are hidden in it. These mysteries can only be revealed by the Holy Spirit, our teacher.
Have a study plan. Whether you are also using a devotional or a topic guide, have a particular focus and structure to your Bible study time. It will help you to systematically learn from the Bible.
Read and reflect on the scripture. Carefully ponder each Word and its meaning. Ask yourself what the passage is saying about you, God, and how to apply it to your daily life. You can even ask questions and you will find the Holy Spirit answering them for you.
Pick out the word(s) that stand out. When reflecting on the scripture, something, a new light, or a new revelation will pop out! It will be as if it speaking directly to you (and it definitely is). Pick up on those words and let them be your memory verse or special Word from God to you for that day.
When you find the scripture or words that God is drawing your attention to most in your reading (Tip #5), write them down, creatively. Now, while writing them down might seem like your usual Bible study technique, Bible journaling involves you writing it down in a way that stands out. You can sketch out a drawing with a pencil/pen and add some color. There are stencil images for sale you can also use specifically for Bible journaling. You can choose a stencil image that speaks to you about that scripture and include it in your journaling. Express your creativity with a hand-lettered design, watercolor painting, or even a song.
You can add any additional elements to your work such as stickers, stamps, fun borders to further brighten your bible journaling page.
Don’t forget to reflect and memorize after the whole work is done. While all the artistic talents in you might be pouring out and things are getting interesting, do not forget the main purpose of journaling is to receive from God. So make sure the new journal design for today is visible to you throughout the day. That way, it can sink into your memory.
If this will not distract you, have some of your favorite Christian worship music playing softly in the background during the Bible journaling session. This will help settle your heart, invite God’s presence and let your creative juices flow more freely.
Bible journaling tools/supplies
Before you set out, you will need to acquire some of these items. Not all the tools are necessary, get only the ones that are most helpful to the type of Bible journaling you will be doing.
1. A Wide-margin Bible (otherwise known as a journaling Bible) or a pretty notebook to use with your normal Bible. I like this one: NLT Reflections Bible: The Bible for Journaling.
2. Bible Journaling printables
5. Watercolor kit
6. Colored pencils
7. Extra paper
These photos below are some resources to start Bible journaling. The kit is particularly useful for beginners.
I also recommend reading a book on how to start bible journaling. The one I read was Bible Journaling: A Life-Changing Journey Along the Pages of God’s Word by Mitzi Smith.
My Funny-Looking First Attempt at Bible Art Journaling
When I was a little girl I used to love drawing and painting. However, I have not drawn in decades, so this first attempt below looks pretty funny to me. However, the important thing is when I was thinking about the scripture and drawing it out, it sealed the scripture into my mind. Bible journaling helped me to see this scripture in a different light. My point in including it here is—it doesn’t need to meet the requirements for a fine arts degree! It is between you and God and the key issue is letting God use your creativity to encounter Him in the word.
For those who have never done Bible journaling before, this technique represents a fresh way to go deeper with God in His word. This post has reviewed 6 ways to do Bible journaling to go deeper in your devotional time. It provides 9 tips on getting started with Bible journaling and reviews the benefits of starting.
Let Me Know
I would love to hear about your Bible journaling experiences. If you did a drawing for the first time like I did, feel free to share it with me in the comments below! I would love to see and hear how it was for you.
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