Bible Study, Journaling, and Meditation

{We’ve approached the last post in this series on How to Study the Bible. This post will focus on ways to help what you’re learning stick with you.}

All of the time spent studying the Bible could be wasted if it doesn’t draw us closer to God, grow our faith, and change our hearts. James warns us to “be doers of the word and not hearers only.” (James 1:22) It profits us little to study and learn and then come away from our time not having encountered God and to walk away being exactly the same as we were when we began.

There are a few ways to combat this issue.

Dwelling over the passage and using an inductive approach is a great help. Journaling your thoughts, thinking about what you’ve studied throughout the day and looking for opportunities to apply what you’ve discovered are all ways to avoid being “hearers only.”

Journaling Techniques

Years ago I decided to keep a Bible study journal. This has been a great help to me. Some people process information as they read, some as they talk, and others as they write, and some process information by a mixing of the three. Journaling can help you dig deeper as you analyze what you think, summarize what you’ve read and learned, and develop questions about a passage that require further investigation on your part.

Keeping a Bible study journal serves several purposes:

  • it serves as a place to record your thoughts and feelings about what God is teaching you
  • it helps you summarize and cement what you’ve learned
  • it helps you dwell on the passage you’re studying
  • it helps you focus your thoughts on the concepts and of the passage
  • it becomes a resource for future study sessions that you can refer back to for information

When I first began to journal, I wasn’t very organized about it. Some people prefer a free-spirited, unorganized approach to journaling and this is fine! If, however, you’d like to be able to refer back to your journal in the future for information, an organized approach is helpful.

Here’s a great article by Ann Voskamp on setting up an organized journal.

I use her tips with a few twists that personalize it for me. I love her use of tagging her writing with thematic titles so that she can glance back at the pages and see the themes of what God was teaching her. I use page numbers and have set up an index at the end of my journal so that as I write I can add my tagged themes to the index along with the page numbers of where to find them.

Here’s another article on using the SOAP method, which has been helpful to me in the past.

This is a great, simple method that could easily be organized (or not J ) like the style mentioned above. SOAP simply stands for writing first a verse or passage from the Scripture you are studying, then writing your Observations, how you could Apply it, and last a Prayer to God in response.

Meditation

Biblical meditation isn’t like the chanting meditations that Eastern religions employ. In the Bible, meditation refers to dwelling on passages and keeping them at the forefront of your mind throughout the day. It is a mental discipline. It’s easy to read, move on, and forget. Journaling is a form of meditation, as also are memorization, re-reading verses or passages throughout the day, and making the commitment to think about what you’ve read often during your daily routine.

Meditation goes hand in hand with Bible study. Often, as you meditate on a passage, God will help you to understand it better and see ways to apply it. A great way to be a “doer of the word”, right? I love it when God brings to mind a familiar passage in a new way, with a new application that’s personalized just for me. But I might miss the opportunity if scripture isn’t in my mind or heart to begin with.

Here are a few ways to meditate on the Word:

  • journal
  • memorize scripture (Scripturetyper.com is my new favorite way)
  • write verses on post-it notes an stick and keep them in view
  • write verses with a dry erase marker on mirrors, windows, message boards
  • hang Bible verse art in your home (wall décor, chalkboards, etc.)
  • make a habit to always focus on a verse while doing dishes, brushing your teeth, feeding the dog etc.

 

When you spend time in the Bible, with God, and have an open heart for His Word for you, your faith will mature. God seeks for us to be doers of the word. Dwelling in the word as you study, journaling out your thoughts, meditating on, and even memorizing verses and passages are all great helps to Bible study and go toward making changes of your heart. It’s easier to apply what you’ve familiarized yourself with. While there’s no simple guarantee that you’ll obey or apply the Scripture you’ve studied, knowing what God’s Word says, and meditating on it helps increase your opportunity for obedience and practice.

Remember, Bible study is all about heart changes, not head knowledge.

What methods do you use to help what you’re learning stick with you?

Ali

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One thought on “Bible Study, Journaling, and Meditation

  1. I have a very leaky brain! But I am encouraged that reading, meditating and journaling are all things that can help me! Thank you , Ali, and God bless you!

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