One of the best ways I know to go deeper in your relationship with God is to begin Bible Journaling. If you’re struggling to focus during your devotional time, writing down notes, inspiration, prayers and praise can make a dramatic difference in helping you to stay engaged. However, a quick search for Bible Journaling brings up an overwhelming amount of results! It’s easy to get frustrated and decide that Bible Journaling is not for you or it’s too much work, but before you throw in the towel, let me share a little secret with you: Bible Journaling can be whatever you want it to be. Really.
So without further preamble, let’s dive right in.
There are seven different methods of Bible Journaling that we will look at in this blog post:
- SOAP method
- Verse Mapping
- Micro Journaling
- Tip Ins
- Bible Art
- Using a Journaling Bible
- Dedicated Bible Journals
My goal in this blog post is to create a Bible Journaling Buffet for you to sample. This broad overview is a great jumping off point, and as you read about each technique, you may find yourself immediately drawn to one style over another.
Or maybe you’re not sure, and you think you’d like to try out a few different styles of Bible Journaling.
That’s great too!
Whether you immediately latch on to a method you love, or you systematically “try on” a few different styles to see what works, you will find that Bible Journaling is a great tool for drawing you into a closer walk with God and a better, more personal understanding of His Word. Let’s begin:
Method #1: The SOAP method
S.O.A.P. is an easy-to-remember acronym and a great, straightforward way to study the Bible. It stands for:
So simple and helpful, right? Let’s break it down into steps:
Scripture: Read a portion of the Bible.
Some options for finding a Bible passage to start with are:
- Follow a plan that has you read through the Bible in a year (or three, or five, depending on your preference)
- Read the Bible verses your pastor used for his sermon text.
- If you’re involved in a small group Bible study, read the verses that relate to what you are discussing that week.
- What do you see in the verses?
- Write down the answers to the Who? What? Why? When? And Where? Questions.
- Read any cross-references of the verse and jot down helpful tidbits.
- How can I apply this to my life?
- What do I learn about God here that prompts me to praise Him?
- If I lived like this verse was true, how would it change me?
- Write out a prayer based on what you’ve learned or been reminded of.
- Spend some time praising God for the truth revealed in this particular Scripture passage.
The S.O.A.P. method is perfect for people who want a simple, straightforward way to move from studying Scripture to talking with God.
This is also a great method to use during Family devotions to help your children learn to study the Bible for themselves.
Method #2: Verse Mapping
Verse Mapping got its name from Mind Mapping. Have you ever seen a mind map? The main idea is in the center of the page, and different aspects, elements or attributes of the main idea radiate out. The look is less structured and gives you the opportunity to add ideas and questions as they occur to you.
This is one of my favorite ways to break down a verse, and I wrote a blog post and made a video of how I walk through the process. You can go here to see exactly how to verse map, step by step.
Method #3: Micro Bible Journaling
Many of us already do this, though maybe you’ve never heard it called by this particular name.
Micro Bible Journaling is simply adding notes to the margins of your Bible based on some idea or inspiration that jumped out to you while you were reading your Bible, listening to a sermon or participating in a small group Bible Study.
There’s no precise method to Micro Journaling, and that’s really the beauty of it. You can just jot an idea down or you can add some stickers, washi tape or hand drawn doodles. Make it as artistic or as minimalist as you want!
Maybe the idea of a separate journal is overwhelming, or maybe you don’t want to abandon your current Bible to go purchase one of those wide-margin Journaling Bibles (see Method #6), but you want to take note of what you’re learning in Scripture! Micro journaling is perfect for you, and the perfect place to start for any one who wants to document what they’ve learned in the Bible.
Method #4: Tip Ins
Tip Ins are something I had never heard of until I started exploring a little bit of the Bible Journaling Community. Tip ins are pieces of paper (usually scrapbook paper or cardstock) that you attach to the top or side of the page. You can use washi tape or good ol’ scotch tape. Some people use it for artistic purposes, to add color and illustrations to a verse theme. I personally use it when I’m micro journaling and have read something in a book that expands on the concept I see in a particular verse.
I usually type mine up so they are nice and neat and easy to read, but you certainly can handwrite your tip in! Tip Ins are a great way to increase your Bible Journaling confidence and inspire your thought process.
Many times commentaries or devotional books have such great thoughts related to a portion of Scripture that you don’t want to lose sight of! Writing down those thoughts and attaching them to your Bible right where you can see it frequently is really helpful.
Tip ins are also great if you want to add someone else’s artwork or even a photo that inspires you to praise God. It’s a way to be artsy for those of us who are not so artsy. I encourage you to give tip ins a try!
Method #5 Bible Art Journaling
This form of Bible Journaling is really popular right now, and for good reason! Art journaling in your Bible allows you to use color and illustrations to give glory to God through your art, right on the pages of your Bible. Here are some amazing examples:
Art Journaling can be a little controversial, as sometimes the art is so opaque that it actually obscures the words on the page. Personally, I would not say that this type of journaling is wrong or forbidden anywhere in Scripture, but I also would not want to create art that makes any God-breathed word of instruction or encouragement hard to see!
Often Art Journal Artists will use colored pencils, watercolors or some other transparent color media to add color and form to a Bible page without covering up the verses they are illustrating. You could also use a tip-in here or create your art on a piece of vellum (transparent paper) that could be moved to see the words on the page.
Another great way to add art journaling without covering up the words on the page of your Bible is to buy a Bible with wide margins that is specifically made for Bible journaling or purchase an interleaved Bible (more on that in Method #6).
There are a lot of great choices on the market right now, and they would make a great gift to yourself or to another person in your life who would enjoy this type of journaling!
Method #6 Use a Journaling Bible
As I mentioned in Method #5, Bible publishers have heard the people’s cry for wide margin Bibles with note taking and Bible journaling in mind. There are several varieties to choose from; here are three of the most popular (please note some of these links are affiliate based, and I may receive a small commission if you purchase through them with no extra cost to you):
The CSB Illustrating Bible – this Bible is remarkable because it is actually spiral-bound, allowing it to lay flat. The pages are thicker to minimize bleed through, and the margins are seriously wide at 3.75 inches.
The ESV Illuminated Bible is a clothbound hardback Bible with wide margins and 500 illustrations in gold by artist Dana Tanamachi. This is a beautiful way to combine some of your own artwork with some that comes printed already.
The NIV Journal the Word Bible has wider margins and also comes with some preprinted devotional commentary and application questions in the margin.
The ESV also offers an interleaved version of their journaling Bible. Instead of wide margins, there is a blank page for every page of text.
Method #7 Scripture Journals
Scripture or Bible Journals are paperback or clothbound journals made specifically for going deeper in your Bible study. Here are three worth looking at:
Write the Word Journals from Cultivate What Matters. This is a great company with lots of intentional workbooks for living with purpose and love. One of their products is the Write the Word Journals. There are several different themes to choose from (Contentment, Forgiveness, Hope, etc) and the journals give you plenty of room to write out what you’re learning from Scripture as well as sections for gratitude and some personal daily journaling.
ESV Scripture Journals from Crossway Publishing. These journals are neat because they have the Scripture printed on one side of the page and the other page is blank with lines for notes. You can get them plain or you can order the illuminated journals that have artwork (like the ESV Illuminated Bible mentioned earlier). I have used an ESV Scripture Journal for Titus and 1 and 2 Timothy, and personally, I did not feel like I had enough room to write. I know that’s going to vary from person to person, but I’d want 2 blank pages for every one page of scripture. In fact, I ended up taping extra pages in when I ran out of space, which is fine but not ideal.
This last one is intriguing; it’s called the SCRIBE Bible Journal, and it’s billed as “the first habit-forming Bible Study Journal”. I watched a really helpful flip through from LindsayKate Plans on YouTube, and you can see that these folks are very purposeful in how they created their journal and the best way to use it. Of course you can modify it to your own purposes, but I like a lot of structure to work from. It feels like a planner almost, but of course it’s not; it’s just a cool way to be intentional about daily Bible study.
The creators also included a space for Bible Memory work which I thought was super cool. I’m highly tempted to purchase this Journal, but I need to finish out some of my notebooks I’m already using first.
Here are some helpful blogs and websites to peruse if Bible Journaling appeals to you, and you’d like to dig deeper:
- Bible Art Journaling – Scribbling Grace – Jenna has tons of tutorials and resources for art journaling in your Bible.
- If you’d like to take some Online Classes to learn how to art journal in your Bible, Megan Wells of Makewells.com has some classes available for purchase on her website.
- If you want some pre-printed supplies (like what you may use to scrapbook with), check out the resources at Illustrated Faith. They have a shop as well as blogs and videos to get you started.
- If micro Bible journaling is more your speed, Lil over at Hey Creative Sister has a very informative post about the different ways you can micro Bible journal.
- Robin over at Bible Journal Love has a helpful post about Bible Tip Ins and includes 4 freebies to download and print.
I hope this information was helpful! What method of Bible Journaling will you try? Let me know in the comments below.