Why I Don’t Do Bible Journaling (And What I Do Instead)
Pitfalls of Bible Journaling
I've noticed a trend lately when it comes to Bible journaling. People are drawing and coloring in their Bible and purchasing fancy Bible coloring books in order to study the Bible.
I'm not saying these things are wrong by any means; my caution is to be careful that you do not get swept up into doing these things just because they are trendy or because you feel like that's how you're “supposed” to do Bible journaling.
Bible artwork can be a helpful tool if that's truly how you learn and solidify in your heart what God is teaching you.
But you also need to be careful that those things don't end up watering down your spiritual life or becoming a superficial replacement for the Holy Spirit's work in your heart.
I fear that in some cases, Bible journaling becomes a replacement for studying God's Word. I have no problem whatsoever with someone using art as an expression of worship or as a way to meditate on Scripture. Some of the Scripture illustrations I have seen online are absolutely beautiful. But when Bible journaling begins stealing your time from really digging into the Word and studying it in-depth, then it is time to reconsider its worth.
For myself, I do not do Bible journaling (meaning in the artistic form) because I would get pretty much nothing out of it spiritually. I am not artistically talented whatsoever, and for that reason I don't really enjoy it. If I tried to draw illustrations of the verses in the Bible, I would not be thinking about the verse one bit. I would be concentrating on coloring in the lines, not meditating on whatever verse I was trying to color. If I tried to strengthen my spiritual walk in this way, it would be like eating a package of Oreos and hoping that it would improve my physical health.
Similarly, if I were to print a spiritual journal worksheet from the internet and try to fill out pre-determined study prompts, the questions on it might not contain whatever the Holy Spirit had been teaching me. I would be doing myself a great disservice by ignoring what he wanted me to meditate on and forcing myself to meditate on something completely different. Instead I prefer keeping my Bible studies open ended, so that I can listen to whatever it is the Holy Spirit is teaching me as an individual.
In a day when “Bible journaling” seems to be synonymous with creating cute illustrations in your Bible or answering pre-determined questions, remember that it doesn't have to be that way — and it shouldn't if it's not truly strengthening your relationship with the Lord.
What I do instead of Bible Journaling
Rather than spending my time creating colorful illustrations (again, not wrong, just be careful!) I keep a simple spiritual journal with a notebook and pen.
It serves as a record of my walk with the Lord and it helps me delve deeper into God's Word.
How do you start a spiritual journal?
To start a spiritual journal, all you need is a notebook and a pen. If you wish, I've also provided some free, open-ended printable pages you can use.
Inside, you can write down things like:
- What you learned from your time in God's word that day
- Answers to prayer
- Ways that God has blessed you
- Temptations you have been facing and prayer for God's help to overcome them; Scriptures to help you fight that temptation
- Burdens you are carrying and requesting God's intervention
Whatever is on your heart, simply write it down! There is not a right way and a wrong way to keep a spiritual journal. (That means that if art is an effective way for you to record your thoughts, go for it!)
What are the benefits of keeping a spiritual journal?
When you keep a spiritual journal, you are creating a record of your walk with God.
When he teaches you something through his word, it is much easier to remember it if you write it down.
When he answers specific prayers, you will have a record of his power in your life. Over time, you learn to trust him more because you can remember the goodness and power he has displayed on your behalf in the past.
When you're feeling discouraged, reading your spiritual journal will remind you of all that God has done for you and for your family.
You'll be reminded of spiritual growth and encouraged to continue drawing even closer to God.
And one of the biggest benefits of spiritual journaling I have found in my own life is that it draws out the thoughts I couldn't quite seem to form inside my head. Maybe I've felt uneasy or burdened and didn't quite know why. Writing down what I'm feeling helps me to gain clarity as to what it is that's troubling me. Then I can search the Scriptures and pray more specifically about my problems. Sometimes God gives me the solution right away. The answer is often Scriptures I already knew well, but before I wrote down my thoughts I was unable to see the problem clearly enough to apply them. Sometimes I see a need that I should add to my long-term prayer list and begin praying fervently about it and waiting on God to answer specifically.
I pray that you will find your relationship with God deeper each day as you study His word and listen to what the Holy Spirit is teaching you!