How do we read the Bible? Journal it!
"Your marvelous doings are headline news; I could write a book full of the details of your greatness." Psalm 145:6 MSG
Of all of these practices, this is probably the only one that I personally don’t need a lot of instruction on. I had to learn how to imagine myself in scripture, how to meditate on scripture, and even how to pray through scripture. Before studying scripture engagement practices I had no idea how many different ways there were to go to God’s Word.
I still remember sitting in my professor’s office when he assigned our small group of researchers different roles for researching for Bible Gateway. I was hopeful to get journaling scripture, because honestly, it was the only one I knew how to do at the time. Instead, I was stuck with a couple of practices I had never heard of. Later, I learned how to journal scripture through a coworker’s research and work, and even later when I was a content writer for the Abide Bible, I had to learn how to structure journaling prompts for other people.
By now, you know I love journaling because you know I ramble my way through writing these emails to you every week, but you also know that journaling is a practice I have forced you all into from the very start. Every week you get journaling prompts along with the devo in your inbox.
But what if I didn’t send them, would you feel comfortable going straight from the Bible to your journal?
Here’s what I’ve learned about journaling scripture. It’s a lot less about just journaling the scripture word for word (that is actually another practice, hand copying scripture) and it’s a lot more about asking the right questions.
To read the Bible for all that it’s worth, and to take the scripture and transition from what might feel like an awkward, clunky, archaic passage to something that the
Holy Spirit can use to speak to us today, we have to learn how to ask the right questions.
A lot of the questions included in the meditation practice from last week still work well for general journaling prompts.
What emotions are you feeling as you read through the passage?
What do you notice about God? What do you notice about yourself?
What connections do you see between the passage and your life?
What stands out the most to you, why?
Do you believe what you are reading about God, or do you see an area in your relationship with Him that needs some work?
A question I love to journal about and think through when I’m reading the Old Testament is, “where do I see Jesus in this?”
Journaling scripture allows us to take many of the contemplative or meditative thoughts we might naturally have as we read through a passage and physically put them somewhere. For me, I have a much easier time sorting through my thoughts when I have to put them onto paper.
If journaling isn’t something that feels natural to you, don’t overcomplicate it. Sometimes, you might want to write out full paragraphs and use your journaling time as a time to respond to what the Spirit is doing in you through the Word. But it doesn’t always have to look like that. You might want to start with handcopying a part of the passage that sticks out to you. Or you might want to make a list of characteristics of God you see in the passage. Maybe, you want to write a few sentences about how the passage connects to you. Or, you could take a phrase from the passage you want to declare over your own life, and write it out as a personalized prayer.
My prayer for you is that as you write about and in response to scripture, the Spirit writes His Words on your heart so they are stored up and ready to be poured out of you into your circles of influence.
For the first time ever, I’m not including journaling prompts! Gasp! Hey, I believe in you, this week I want you to start asking your own questions, and I can’t wait to hear about what you come up with.
Hey God, thank you for being faithful to meet us in your Word every day. Guide our hands as we write and our hearts as we respond to your Word. Let your Spirit prompt us into responding to your Word and to lead and guide us into deeper things. Amen.