What’s up with all these wide-margin, brightly-decorated Bibles? #biblejournaling is trending with no end in sight, leaving some wondering what all the fuss is about. I admit, I didn’t understand the buzz . . . until several years ago when I started the practice myself. Now I’m hooked, and in this post I’ll attempt to share the how and why behind my personal practice of Bible journaling.
First a disclaimer: There’s a lot of information out there about Bible highlighting, both the tools and systems you can use, so I’m not going to touch upon highlighting here. Instead, I want to address what you can write in your journaling Bible. How do you fill all those lovely wide margins?
5 Things to Write in Your Journaling Bible:
1. Sermon Notes
Recently, our pastor went through the book of Leviticus, and I followed along by transcribing the list of offerings in my Bible along with key points about each. Whether or not your pastor gives you an outline to work from, the practice of taking notes directly in your Bible is a helpful one.
Sometimes I use a separate prayer journal, but I also find it helpful to write prayers directly in my Bible. This practice can be especially valuable while reading through the Psalms, as one of David’s prayers sparks one of your own.
If a quote sticks out to me from a book or podcast, I’ll jot it down, and if it goes with a passage of Scripture, I’ll write it out in my Bible next to that Scripture, including the reference to the quote. This is invaluable for later study of that particular text!
4. Lists and Patterns
I’ll often write out lists, such as the Armor of God, in the margins of my Bible, including other cross-references that go along with each list entry. Or if there is a repeated word or phrase, I’ll write that in the margin. For example, we have “one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:4–6). Write out all the “one” statements!
5. Action Points
If there’s a big takeaway from the passage, write it out in the margin. Maybe even highlight it and add stickers! Something to draw your eye back to it in the future. For example, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Write those three action points next to the verse. And maybe also write “APPLIES TO PARENTING” in all caps afterwards!
Okay . . . but why?
Studies show that we retain more by writing things down. The act of writing something directly in your Bible, helps solidify what you’re learning and engages you in both the Scripture text and the sermon, book, podcast, etc.
Not only does this practice help you retain information, but it also enriches future study of God’s Word. Everything is in one spot for you to reference! Of course there’s Bibles with comprehensive study notes from respected scholars, and I highly recommend owning one of those; however, a journaling Bible is more about personal engagement with the text. The practice of Bible journaling invites you to be an active participant in your study and learning of God’s Word. In a sense, you’re curating a pool of knowledge that tracks your own personal growth, which leads me to my final point:
Bible journaling helps you track God’s faithfulness in your life.
His faithfulness to grow your understanding, answer your prayers, comfort your distress, convict your heart, and so. much. more!
Ultimately, the goal of Bible journaling isn’t to have a “pretty” Bible. Rather, it’s to know more of the God of the Bible and to fall deeper in love with Him and His Word.
If you’d like to see a tutorial of how I tabbed my journaling Bible with washi tape, click here.