Bible Reading, Journaling & Studying; Considering the differences between them and where you might be…

When it comes to reading our Bibles, journaling through our Bibles, or studying our Bibles more in depth we may tend to get ahead of ourselves and get discouraged… or we might be ready to go deeper with journaling and/or studying the Bible yet hesitate because we are nervous or don’t know how.

In this post, I hope to make the distinction between Bible reading, journaling, and studying AND help you figure out where you are with all of it and encourage you right where you are in all of it. 

Now, it may go without saying, but I’ll say it any way…

It is good for us to read our Bibles!

It is good for us to respond to reading our Bibles!

And it is good for us to study our Bibles! 

God saw fit to give us this beautiful gift of His written Word where He has communicated His entire plan to completely redeem mankind. He has given us this indescribable treasure that we can dig into and discover more and more about Him. There are so many benefits to reading it, responding to it, and studying it-> number one being simply sitting at the Lord’s feet and resting in His presence.

A couple of years ago, I started gathering Bible verses that talk about the Bible itself. I have since found 100 verses from Genesis to Revelation! I compiled the list, paraphrased the verses, and now call it the ‘Word on the Word’ list. You can find this list at the beginning of each Every Word Journal and you can find it as a printable here. I wanted you to be able to print it out, frame it, and put it somewhere in your home where you will see it every day and be reminded of the power of God’s Word. 

Here are just 10 examples of ‘Word on the Word’ verses from the list…

  1. The Word of God is to be on our hearts (Deut. 6:6)
  2. We live by every word of the Word (Deut. 8:3)
  3. What God has revealed to us, belongs to us (Deut. 29:29)
  4. The Word is near to us (Deut. 30:14)
  5. We are to meditate on the Word day and night (Josh. 1:8) 
  6. God’s Word will not fail (Josh. 21:45)
  7. The Word of God is proven (2 Sam. 22:31) 
  8. The Word holds us up (Job 4:4)
  9. We are to delight in and meditate on the Word (Ps. 1:2)
  10. The Word is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true and righteous (Ps. 19:7-9) 

At this point, I am going to make the assumption that if you are reading this, you want to gain clarity on where you are in your reading, journaling, or studying journey and/or want clarity on next steps to take.

Let’s first make the distinction between reading, journaling, and studying…

Bible Reading is just that, reading your Bible.

Bible Journaling is adding the step of journaling in response to your Bible Reading.

Bible Study is going beyond reading and responding and adding the steps of mining for the intended meaning of the text.

Now let’s look at each of these a little more in depth…

Bible Reading

Again, there are so many benefits to reading God’s Word. If you have never read through the whole Bible, start with just reading it. You don’t necessarily have to read it from Genesis to Revelation, but make it a point to just read it using whatever reading plan you choose. Simply read it to grasp the grand scope of it knowing you will go back and read it again and again once you’ve read it through all the way through. There is more than enough time to add journaling and/ or studying after you’ve read it once. You have your whole life to grow in the area of Bible reading, journaling, and studying.

How do you know you are ready to read your Bible? If you are a believer in Christ, you are ready. There is no time like the present to read it!

Bible Reading Tips:

  • Pick a reading plan! There are a few reading plans you could follow… and there are a couple of challenges you could do to read it all in a short amount of time… but if a challenge brings added stress then just read whenever you can for how ever long it takes.
  • Decide how fast you would like to read and when you would ideally like to finish while remembering to give yourself grace. Map out and plan how much you will read each day. For example, if you read everyday for 30 minutes, you could finish the Bible in 6 months. If you read everyday for 15 minutes, you could finish it in a year. 
  • Find a Bible you like and will enjoy holding, looking at, and reading. My favorite little Bible I use just for reading can be found here! I love the size of it and the fact that it is not a Study Bible. I don’t get distracted by study notes or added commentary when I want to read for myself for pure enjoyment and consistency. 
  • Schedule when you will read your Bible. If you schedule it in your day, you are more likely to actually do it. (This goes for journaling and studying, as well.)
  • Ask someone to hold you accountable to reading the Bible. Ask someone if they would want to read it, too… and then check in with them periodically and ask them to check in with you.

Bible Reading Plans:

You can find all of our free printable reading plans here! We have…

  • Genesis to Revelation- where you read the Bible cover to cover
  • Chronological- where you read the Bible in the order in which the events of the Bible happened
  • Simultaneous- where you read a little bit of the Old Testament and a little bit of the New Testament each day
  • Old Testament in a year
  • New Testament in a year

Bible Reading Challenges: (Again, I only recommend these if you enjoy challenges!)

Whatever Bible you choose to read, whatever plan you choose to use, and at whatever speed you choose to read. Just read. Read and keep reading and don’t stop until you are finished! And I’ll be here cheering you on!

Bible Journaling

Journaling is adding the step of responding to your Bible Reading by way of reflecting and writing in a journal or directly into the pages or margins of your Bible. It is taking the time to write out your thoughts on what you just read or what you believe the Lord was speaking to your heart. It practically takes a little more time, but well worth it when you can look back at pages that have recorded your time with the Lord.  

How do you know you are ready to add journaling? Pray. Seek the Lord and see if that is where He is guiding you. Have you already read the Bible in its entirety? You could be ready to move on to journaling.

Every Word Collective started with a desire to read the whole Bible and journal while doing so. You can read about the original journal and all of the journals we have released over time here! They are actually pretty simple, but I whole heartedly believe that’s how God wants it to be. I don’t think He wants spending time with Him in His Word to be complicated. Each journal has a different reading plan in it and on each journal page the next passage to read is printed in the corner. There is also a blank space for the date so that you don’t get discouraged by “falling behind.” There is no such thing as falling behind when reading God’s Word. Each journal also includes a ‘How to Use Page’ that contains journal prompts that could help guide you on what to look for while you read.

Journal Prompts:

  • Is there an example to follow?
  • Is there a promise to claim?
  • Is there a command to obey?
  • Is there a sin to avoid?
  • Is there a principle to learn?

Other questions to keep in mind would be…

  • What do these chapters reveal about God and His character?
  • How do these chapters point to Christ?
  • What “heart work” does the Holy Spirit want to do in me?

We have created printable bookmarks with the journal prompts that you can download, print and put in your Bible and journal here! This way, you will always have the prompts in front of you.

Other things you could Journal…

  • Prayers
  • Copy verses
  • Write down your questions
  • Write down what you are thankful for
  • Summarize what you read
  • Or! a combination of ALL of the above!

It truly is something special to hold a journal in your hands that houses your heart poured out before the Lord on its pages. I plan to pass my journals on to my children, hoping they become a special keepsake to them, as well.

Bible Study

Bible Study is going beyond reading and responding. Studying is the added steps of mining for the intended meaning of the text. It’s digging deeper than surface level and unearthing its immeasurable and priceless treasure. Studying is taking time to observe, interpret, and apply prayerfully. It is going from ingesting the milk of the Word to digesting the meat of the Word.

How do you know you are ready to add studying? Pray. Seek the Lord and see if that is where He is guiding you. If you have read the Bible in it’s entirety and want to dig deeper, you may be ready to learn the tools and how to put them to use in studying the pages of Scripture.

Studying God’s Word does not have to be daunting. In fact, I believe it should be exciting! There are so many great resources, books, classes, pastors, mentors, blogs, websites, etc that teach others how to study the Bible. And that’s just it, it has to be taught which means… it CAN be learned. Anyone can learn how to study the Bible. On the basic level, all you need to know is how to do a few steps and how to use a few supplemental source materials. I break down the tried and true Inductive Bible Study Method in this post and recommend you go back and read it if you haven’t already and/ or have no idea what the Inductive Bible Study Method is. You could also check out this post where I share 5 of my favorite books about Bible Study that could help you in your approach to studying.

Bible Study Tips:

  • Choose a good study Bible, one with historical notes, maps, etc… not one with too much commentary from another person per say… My favorite Study Bible can be found here!
  • Decide which book of the Bible to study. The first book I ever studied inductively was the book of James and I will always recommend that one as a good one to start with. Ephesians is another good one to start with, as well.
  • Gather a few tools including a Bible Concordance & Bible Dictionary… both of these can even be found online at blueletterbible.org.
  • Don’t feel the need to get fancy highlighters, pens, tabs, etc. A blank spiral notebook and pencil is just enough.
  • Share what God is teaching you through your Bible Study with someone else! Retelling will help you remember and solidify what you learned.
  • Remember that the end goal of Bible Study is not more knowledge, but the continuation of sitting and resting in the Lord’s presence.

I pray this post has been helpful to you! I hope making the distinction between reading, journaling, and studying has given you more clarity. I’m here to encourage you where ever you are on this journey and as always, let me know if you have any questions!

17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

2 Peter 3:17-18

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