We’re on Day 18 of this 31 Day series called Embracing the GRACE of Bible Study, and this week we’ve been looking at what a gift it is that we’re able to LEARN it. 

If someone close to you – someone you love – pours their heart out and shares their personal thoughts and feelings with you, how would you respond? Would you stand up and walk away without saying a word? If you care about them, I’m sure you’d pay them the courtesy of at least acknowledging what they’ve communicated with you, maybe thank them for trusting you enough to share something intimate. In a healthy relationship, no decent person would respond with complete silence or avoidance when someone they love opens up like that.

But I confess it’s a temptation at times to forget how alive God’s Word is and that it’s really HIM speaking to me through it, and perhaps I’m too rushed or self-focused some days to respond to what I read in the Word. That’s why journaling is a helpful study tool for me. It’s all about responding to what God has just spoken to me. Years ago, I heard Beth Moore say about Bible study, “When God talks, talk back!” That’s essentially the guiding principle for why I journal when studying; I’m forced to stop and think about how I want to answer him. It enables me to live out a real relationship with him.

There’s another aspect of journaling that has to do with the assumption that as you write, greater understanding will flow. You write basic thoughts but are sometimes moved by the Spirit to write more than you realized you knew! Jen Hatmaker talked about this in her book The Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study, another helpful (and very enjoyable) resource,

“Journaling forces our minds to engage with the Holy Spirit in Scripture. We listen as we read; we respond as we write. It is a concrete way to talk back to God in the absence of His audible words and discernible body language. It focuses our attention on God’s Word…

Journaling acknowledges that we care. It not only helps us retain Scripture more easily but also reveals to our Father that we are committed to ‘working out our salvation.’

We’ll do the work. We’ll give the time. We’ll offer our full attention.

Writing also allows us to process Scripture rather than read it briefly at face value. Often we begin a journal entry with one simple concept in mind, but as we write, our thoughts are carried to a deeper place by the Spirt. Why? Journaling requires us to consider a truth longer than the five seconds it took to read it. The Spirit’s leadership pulls us along and stretches us as we journal because writing equals time.”

(excerpt from Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study, pages 60-61)

If the thought of journaling sounds unappealing because maybe you are not a writer-type, please don’t let it scare you. There is no right or wrong way. You may not write paragraphs, but jotting down brief bullet points still gets pen to paper, leading you to engage with Scripture. You can record the things God is showing you – or the questions that arise – in whatever form you prefer. Give it a try! I find it helpful to write it down in some way, but however you choose to respond, remember that one-way communication isn’t healthy in any relationship. Let’s honor our Father by talking back when He speaks through His Word.

Bible study grace 31 days