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Scripture Engagement/Journaling Scripture
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Journaling Scripture

Journaling through Scripture is distinct from journaling to record daily life. A Scripture journal is not meant to be primarily a diary or a log of daily events. Though all journaling is useful for general mental health and spiritual growth, journaling can become richer when integrated with the study of Scripture. Journaling Scripture helps us to reflect on a passage, focusing our minds and helping us concentrate. Writing often helps us clarify our thinking. Most of us, when we take notes for a class or during a sermon, engage with the content at a deeper level and remember it more completely and as a result the content has more impact on our lives. This same principle holds true as we journal Scripture. Writing down our thoughts about a passage helps us to engage the Bible more deeply.

Journaling Scripture is not just about a better understanding of the content of the Bible; it also helps us increase our expectation of meeting God in his Word. In Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney writes, “By slowing us down and prompting us to think more deeply about God, journaling helps us feel more deeply (and biblically) about God. It provides an opportunity for the intangible grays of mindwork and heartwork to distill clearly into black and white. Then we’re better able to talk to God with both mind and spirit.”  A Scripture journal is a conversation with God. It is meant to be a place where we can safely record and reflect on our raw thoughts and feelings, ask questions, search for patterns, and develop our own thoughts with the Holy Spirit as our guide. Being candid with both God and ourselves deeply enhances spiritual growth. Confession to God results in an open and honest relationship with God which allows the Spirit to continue to shape and mold us into Christ’s image. 

One of the blessings of Scripture journaling is that years later, when we reread our journals, we will be able to see more clearly God’s work in our lives. We’ll be able to rediscover a passage of Scripture that was important to us. We’ll remember that God answered a prayer that was prompted by Scripture we wrote in our journal. We’ll realize that questions that weighed on our heart for years have been answered by God. Remembering all that God has done for us on our spiritual journey is one important aspect of spiritual growth. A Scripture journal can help us remember God’s faithfulness.

Another blessing of journaling is that we do not have to worry about what others think of our writing. In this private space of self-expression, we are free to say exactly what we mean and feel. In fact, John Wesley believed so strongly in the importance of keeping his journal private that he developed his own coded language specifically for use in his journal. While perhaps this practice was somewhat extreme, it is wise to have a safe place to keep your journal and to ensure that those around you are willing to be respectful of the privacy of your journal. With the confidentiality of our journal secured, we are free to spill any insight, thought, emotion, or question into its pages.

How do we journal Scripture? After reading a passage of Scripture, basic Scripture journaling could include the following steps:

  • writing out verses that stood out to you
  • jotting down questions about the passage
  • writing down a truth from the passage
  • writing down action steps for yourself based on your reading
  • writing a praise to God for a promise that was meaningful to you
  • writing out prayers for yourself or others that were prompted by the passage
  • writing out a confession because you’ve fallen short of an action in the passage
  • asking God for help in living out a passage

Methods for Scripture journaling are varied, and there is not one that is universally “correct.” Your method is appropriate if you notice God using your journaling to develop spiritual growth in your life. While you may choose a particular technique as you get started, your journaling style will become personal and unique, which is exactly as it should be. The goal is not to follow a strict pattern, but rather to express ourselves, seek clarity, and most importantly, to experience growth and new depth in our relationship with God.

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© Phil Collins, Ph.D., 2014. This material was created in partnership with the Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement.