Journaling has an innately spiritual connotation to it. I think introspection is considered a spiritual exercise. If you do a search for spiritual journaling you will get responses covering all faiths and philosophies, so because I am Christian I will refer to my practice of journaling for spiritual benefit as “Bible Journaling” because that is my sacred text and what I base my spirituality on.
From my own experience Christians do not read their Bible like they should (and even admit this) due to the exercise being dull and seemingly a chore. I have to admit that growing up I felt I had a good grasp of the Bible and the idea of just sitting down and reading it for “pleasure” actually seemed like torture. I already knew all the “good parts” (the Bible stories) so I felt I knew the Bible. When I took the Bible Knowledge entrance exam at Bible college, I realized I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did, and was very embarrassed about that. However, Bible college was not the place to learn the joy of reading the Bible, because very quickly it became a textbook. I was so busy gathering head knowledge to pass exams and write papers, I didn’t learn or have the time to let it become heart knowledge.
In college they stressed personal devotions, probably because they knew that the Bible often becomes little more than a textbook while pursuing these theological studies. It wasn’t until I received a Woman’s Devotional Bible and started applying five simply questions a mentor gave me to my daily readings that I began to actually glean things and enjoy the daily exercise. When I started interacting with what I was reading, it became meaningful and memorable to me.
Most of us do not have the knowledge within ourselves to discover joy in Bible reading. I guess this was why Christ emphasized discipleship — those who have been taught need to turn around and teach those coming after them. Face it, the spiritual things of God do not come naturally to us. That is why He gave us the Bible. Sadly, in the churches I’m familiar with the basics such as Bible reading, study and prayer are not being taught. Sure, there are Sunday School classes, Bible studies and sermons each week that tell people what they should believe about the Bible, but very little teaching is being done to help people learn what the Bible says for themselves. The honest truth is that it is EASIER to simply present a lesson that teaches people what to believe. It takes dedication of time, and investment of yourself, to sit down and help a person learn to study the Bible for themselves and get something out of it — kind of like raising a child. Hmmm….
Another huge obstacle for people is time constraints. Many people feel they don’t have the time to devote to Bible reading or study. One of the main reasons for that is everyone pushing at them the “read thru the Bible in a year” plans. Those are fine for people who have the time and inclination to pursue them. However, most people are intimidated by the fact of reading through four chapters every day. When a child begins to crawl, we don’t immediately pick them up an insist they start training for a marathon, do we? NO! You have to start out simply and slowly and work up to something like that. The child must crawl, then walk with faultering steps two or three at a time, then they work on running, etc. But we take inexperienced Christians and expect them to jump into a marathon with two feet, then look down on them when they fall by the wayside around February.
Let’s start out simply. Take an index card and write out the three questions I will list below. Use that card as a bookmark in the Bible you will do your daily reading in. Get a notebook and a good pen to keep with your Bible. Each day, at a time that works best for you, find a quiet place to sit and read through the daily readings I provide below. Record in your notebook the answers to the questions given. They are the same questions for everyday. Different passages will reveal different answers. If you can’t find an answer to a question from a passage, don’t despair. You won’t always. There is no way to come up with three questions that will always apply. But most times they will. Be sure to stop by and let me know how it is going for you!
1) What facts do you find about God?
This question applies to Jesus and the Holy Spirit as well. They are all God, just different aspects of God. This question applies to any names of God, characteristics, behavior, attributes, relational, etc.
2) What facts do you find about man?
What does the Bible teach about man? How is he portrayed? Do you have examples and evidences of this from your own life?
3) What verse stands out to you and why?
Write out this verse on an index card and carry it with you to meditate on through the day. Come back at the end of the day and write any experiences/insights you gain from thinking and praying about this verse.
The questions should serve to trigger your memory about the explanations I give below. You might have to include the explanations as you start this practice, but later can have just a card with the questions as you establish the habit.
Daily Bible Reading
John Chapter 1
Day 1: v1-5
Day 2: v6-8
Day 3: v9-14
Day 4: v15-18
Day 5: v19-28
Some might think — so few verses? It is better to read five verses a day and get something out of it than to read four chapters and walk away not remembering what you read. Far better than not reading anything at all. Start small. You can always add more later.
Hope this serves to encourage someone today!
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