10 Bible Study Methods to Use in Your Journaling

Bible journaling is not just about the art! To use journaling as a means to grow in your relationship with God, it’s important to truly study His Word while you’re journaling. Here, I share ten Bible study methods you can use to gain a deeper understanding of the Scriptures.

Bible study methods

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I’ll be the first to admit, that when I started Bible journaling nearly five years ago, it was the prospect of creating art in my Bible that drew me in.

For a while, my Bible journals were all very basic—I would take a verse, and stamp or hand letter it word-for-word, and leave it at that. Maybe I read the surrounding verses, but for the most part I was doing more art than studying.

But over time, I’ve come to realize that the most beneficial pages I’ve created, are the ones where I really took the time to study God’s Word, and asked Him to speak to me through it. The more that I utilize creative ways to study the Bible, the more I grow in my knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

I totally understand if you’re struggling with how to study the Bible, though. That’s probably a big reason why it took me so long to get into it, because I found the Bible to be so intimidating! But, I promise, once you start tapping into the riches of wisdom and guidance found in God’s Word, you’ll desire to study it more and more.

Bible journaling - Jesus paid it all

Ten Bible Study Methods to Use in Bible Journaling

Thankfully, there are many tips for studying the Bible that can help you understand it better, whether you’re a brand new Christian or a seasoned believer. The ten Bible study methods I talk about here are things that I’ve found most helpful to use in combination with Bible art journaling, although you can use them just as study methods without journaling if you like. Please don’t settle for only coloring in the Bible, without truly studying it. It’s in the studying, that you can unlock the spiritual riches of God’s Word, and begin applying its teachings to your life.

So without further ado, here are ten ways to gain deeper understanding of God’s Word as you’re journaling…

1) Read the whole passage

I know, I know, this seems like the most obvious way for how to start studying the Bible. Well, duh! But, I’ve been guilty of diving right into coloring or painting about a particular verse (say, Proverbs 3:5-6), and not even reading the rest of the chapter or story. A lot of times, reading the whole passage, or even just the few verses before or after, can help you better understand the context of that verse.

2) Look at different translations

Once you’ve read the Scripture in your chosen version (say, the NIV or NLT), it can be helpful to read a few other versions as well. It just really helps to read it in different wording; in one version, it might be difficult to grasp, but in another, hallelujah! Now I understand! Take for example, the difference between certain versions of Galatians 5:22 (the fruit of the Spirit). Some say “patience” is the fourth fruit…others “forbearance”…and others “longsuffering”. For me personally, “patience” is the word that makes the most sense to me, so that’s the word I wrote on this journaling page.

Fruit of the Spirit Bible journal

You can switch between versions easily and for free on Bible.com, or in the YouVersion Bible app on your phone. I especially recommend the Amplified (AMP) version, for it’s breakdown of the original Greek and Hebrew meanings. And also, the Message (MSG) version, for it’s modern paraphrasing. But don’t stop there! There are so many different versions, you’ll likely discover a few that speak to you most, that will become your go-to translations.

3) Consult the notes in a study Bible

Another great place to look if you’re struggling to read the Bible, is in a study Bible like this NIV Life Application Bible (which is the version I have on my Kindle). Anytime I’m really stumped about a particular passage of Scripture, I’ll check the notes in my Life Application Bible. It’s just so helpful to get that extra “how is this relevant to my modern life” insight.

4) Do a verse map!

If you’re looking for Bible study methods that will help you go deep in applying a particular verse to your life, Bible verse mapping is excellent. It’s a wonderful way to analyze the deeper meaning of that verse, with the goal of developing a personal “this is how it applies to me” statement.

Bible journaling ideas - verse mapping

5) Listen to an audio guide

Need some extra extra hand-holding? Like, maybe you’re trying to understand a complex book like Ezekiel or Revelation? In a case like that, I’ve found that listening to an audio guide, such as the ones from the Through the Word app, can be just the ticket.

6) Consider what you admire about the character or story

So, let’s say you’re reading a story in the Bible, such as David vs. Goliath. Ask yourself: What do I admire about this person? What did they do right? Or, what mistakes did they make, that I could learn from? When you take the time to answer deeper questions like that, it gives you a much greater lesson to record in your Bible journaling.

Bible study methods - David vs Goliath

7) Insert yourself into the Scripture

By the same token, try reading the passage with “I” or “me” inserted in place of “he”, “she”, or “they”. Take Isaiah 40:31 for example: It says, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength”. So, you could say “my hope is in the Lord, and He will renew my strength”. See how it just makes it more personal? It’s not just applying to “those” anymore, but directly to YOU.

8) Use your prayer lifeline!

This is perhaps the MOST important of all Bible study methods…simply ask God to speak to you through His Word. If you don’t understand something, tell Him! And even if you do think you understand, still ask Him for greater understanding and wisdom. There is always more God wants to teach us through His Word.

9) Be on the lookout for an ‘aha!’ moment

Some of the most profound lessons I’ve learned, have come before I ever sit down to Bible journal. Sometimes it’s in the pastor’s message on Sunday, other times in a devotional reading, and still others from something a fellow Christian said in casual conversation. Be on the lookout for those revelations, so you can say (as I often do): “I must do a Bible journal on this, so I won’t forget it!”.

Case in point, this ‘God’s presence is the prize’ journaling page was sparked by a devotional I read one morning. The devo talked about this passage in Exodus 33:15-16, in which Moses said “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (verse 16).

Bible journaling methods

SO. GOOD. The devo writer made the point, that Moses so valued God’s presence, that he would rather stay put in the wilderness with God’s presence than go up to claim the promised land without God’s presence. And Moses’ words absolutely apply to us too! How will anyone see the difference in us as Christians, if God’s presence (His Holy Spirit) is not in us?

10) Discover the historical significance

Sometimes, there are things in the Bible that require a bit of digging to make sense of. Like Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 5:13-14 that we are “the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”. For a long time, I wondered what in the world that meant. When I finally did understand, what helped tremendously was reading about the different ways salt has been used in Biblical times and throughout history (as a preservative, flavoring agent, and more).

salt and light Bible journal

So, if you’re stumped about a particular passage of Scripture, consider the context. What would’ve been the cultural norms at the time it was written? How was it used, what was the tradition, or what did people believe about that topic at the time? The Bible really does become easier to understand, when we take into account the context it was written in.

I hope these ten Bible study methods have inspired you to try a new way of studying God’s Word! Please don’t settle for just skimming the surface, when there is so much more God wants to reveal to you.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Marissa May 1, 2020, 8:32 am

    Though I only skimmed this article at 2:30 am I can’t wait to read it more thoroughly in the morning. You touched on a few things I had not encountered. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Barbara Austin May 1, 2020, 5:22 pm

      You’re welcome Marissa! I’m glad you found it helpful.

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