Bible journaling refers to the experience of creating beautiful reminders in the margins of your Bible of what the text is saying. This can be done with any Bible, but there are journaling Bibles that are available that have super wide margins just for this purpose.
The goal of Bible journaling is to give depth to personal Bible time. There is no wrong way to participate in Bible journaling, but there are things that can assist beginners in getting started, and there are always new techniques and ideas coming out for those who have been journaling for a long time. It can be simple or complex, as desired by the person who is journaling. Just as every person is different, so is there a variety of possibilities for journaling.
Have the Goal of Learning the Word
It is important to remember that the finished art project is not the goal with Bible journaling. The goal is to etch the Word further into one’s heart through spending more time with it. What matters is not the artistic application, but the application of the concepts into daily life.
Select the Location of Journaling – Bible or Blank Journal
If you are one of the people who believes that writing in the Bible is disrespectful or undesirable, it is still possible to Bible journal! Any blank journal can be used for this purpose. It is also possible to get a journal that will allow other media besides pens, pencils, and markers. Some journals are made for watercolors or mixed media, expanding the possibilities for your journaling projects.
If you prefer to use the actual Bible, there are Bibles that are created especially for using this way. They have wider margins than average to allow plenty of space for creativity and often have thicker pages. Some may have a spiral binding to allow for the pages to be flat when the book is open. Some come with some verses pre-drawn that need only to have color added.
For beginners, choosing one media and one style is a good idea. Add more as more is learned about the process and more familiarity is obtained. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by choosing a lot of items and media. Colored pencils and stickers can be a good starting point for most people.
Seal the Pages
If desired, a substance like Gesso can be used to make the pages sturdier and resistant to liquids. It comes in clear and white (among others); clear is good for Bible pages while the white may be better for blank journal pages. Coat the page two or three times for best results.
Select a List
Having a list of Bible verses you are eager to journal will aid you in getting started. This list can be kept in the Bible that is being used, taped to the wall where you usually have your devotional time, or in a digital file on your phone or computer.
Say a Prayer
Bathing Bible study time in prayer is always a good idea. Praying for guidance and understanding is a good place to start.
State the Date
Including the date on each journaling page will assist when reviewing to see when each was completed. If it takes longer than one session to complete a page, include any dates when work was done, for future reference.
See the Colors
Colors have connotations. Some colors tend to go better with some concepts and using colors that do not seem to apply can be distracting. Red is more likely to be appropriate when illustrating love, for example, than black.
Don’t Worry About Mistakes
A slip of a pencil, a missed word, a color swept into another section – these can be frustrating, but it is okay. Everybody makes mistakes, and it is possible to adjust, if needed. A bit of white-out or white gesso can cover some, and if it is a larger area, sticking a bit of paper over it and redoing it is absolutely a possibility!
Remember that your Bible journal is YOUR Bible journal. It is a creative way to connect with God and is not meant to be a museum piece.
Significance of Journaling
Bible journaling is a form of worship. It encourages meditation on the Scripture being journaled and can foster a much deeper remembering and understanding of the passage. Additionally, it provides a keepsake that children or grandchildren will love in the future. It can also increase a sense of peace, strengthen spiritual life, and increase retention.
However, if it is being done to check off a box or if it is more chore than enjoyable, perhaps it is time to step back and reevaluate if journaling is the best way for you to spend your devotional time.
Journaling can be done in groups, as well. This encourages fellowship as well as discussion of the Scriptures and can be used as a prayer time and a time of connecting. Alternately, share your projects with friends in person or on social media. This may encourage others to try journaling, or – even better – to spend time in Scripture themselves.
Stay Away from Oils
Oil colors will soak through pages, even if they are treated, and should be avoided. Water-based media can be used, carefully. Pens, pencils, and markers are appropriate media. Even acrylics (which are water-based) can be used if they are allowed to dry before closing the book.
Standard supplies can be used, and there are also specialized tools and supplies that are meant for Bible journaling. Tabs can be used to mark pages. Stencils and die cuts can be more versatile than stickers. Stamps can add designs to pages. Alphabet stickers can make your journaling headlines or larger text more uniform, if your handwriting is not as nice as you prefer. Diecuts are another option, with a tacky glue. Washi tape adds interest and can be used to highlight and to fasten in tip-ins (a card or page that is decorated separately before being added into the book).