I promised you guys a Bible Journaling tutorial and I’m finally delivering on that promise.
There were so many of you interested in this that I pushed back another post in order to bump this one up. I’ve spent all morning taking pictures and working out my step-by-step how-to. I hope you find it helpful, and I hope you’ll give it a try.
So, what exactly is Bible Journaling and why should I get into it?
Bible Journaling is exactly what it sounds like. It’s treating your bible and devotional time like you would a diary or a journal, only this journal is focused specifically on your spiritual growth. The point of it is to meditate on scripture. While you are illustrating some verse or idea in your bible, you are forced to think the words over and over again. It’s impossible not to meditate on God’s word when you are spending time illustrating those ideas in your bible.
I find it relaxing and energizing all at the same time. I enjoy the opportunity to hone in on one aspect of my quiet time reading that day and really let it soak in.
What if I’m not very “artsy”?
You don’t have to be an artist to try Bible Journaling. Some of your designs may look like a marker exploded on the page at first. That’s perfectly OK. You aren’t doing this for great Instagram photos or because you want it to be perfect (although, that is a struggle for me to realize sometimes). You’re doing it to meditate on scripture. No one but you needs to see it. So, if it doesn’t look the way you want it to, that’s fine. The more you do it the better your designs will look. There are a ton of Bible Journaling boards and tutorials you can follow on Pinterest. I got started by just copying some of the designs I found online. I’m not very creative on my own, I need something to get me started. So this has really helped me. Feel free to follow my “Grace is Never Ending” Pinterest board to see the ideas I’ve pinned.
So, what do I need if I want to get into this “Bible Journaling” thing?
The first thing you need is (obviously) a Bible. Most people use a journaling Bible. The only thing that makes it a journaling Bible is plenty of room in the margins for you to create your designs. I bought this Bible* from Amazon and it’s working well for me. The pages are thin and there is bleed through, but not so much that you can’t read the text on the other side of the page. I just can’t do a design on both sides of the same page. I like that this Bible only has one column of text and plenty of room in the margins.
However, if you are one of those people who just doesn’t want to mess with a Bible in that way, you can still create a Bible Journal using a notebook. If you aren’t comfortable illustrating directly in your bible, just use plain ole’ notebook pages.
As far as the rest of your supplies go, that’s completely up to you. I start my designs in pencil and then use brush pens, watercolors, colored pencils, pens, or markers to fill in the designs.
These are the supplies I use. Obviously, I don’t use them all in one design. I like the Crayola Twistables colored pencils because they don’t require sharpening and the points aren’t so sharp that they make an indention on the page. I use Tombow Brush Pens*, Micro-Line ink pens*, and Zebra highlighters.* I also use Crayola markers and watercolors. Sometimes I add borders with Washi tape. Most of my Bible Journal designs so far have only used the pens and watercolors and/or colored pencils.
But if you want to start out with just a pencil and a marker, then go for it. You don’t need any of the stuff I’ve pictured above. I’m just giving you an idea of the supplies I use. Use whatever you have at home. I already had these supplies to use on my bullet journal.
Alright, I’ve got what I need. Now, walk me through this.
The first place to start is – of course – with scripture. I have the She Reads Truth app and I use that for most of my daily devotionals. The app is free, but some of the devotional plans require in-app purchases. I’m going through one over the book of Mark right now. It’s a 21 day plan and it cost $1.99 in the app. I’m going to walk you through my Bible Journaling for today’s passage over Mark chapter 14, which covers Jesus being annointed with oil by the woman in Bethany, The Last Supper, The Garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. It’s a heavy chapter and the longest one in the book of Mark.
I started by reading once through the chapter. I didn’t stop or mark anything on the pages, I wanted to get an idea of what was going on before I focused on anything specific. Then, I read through it again, this time more slowly. I was looking for something to jump off the page and get my attention – something specific.
Sometimes, it isn’t that easy. Sometimes it takes some direction from a devotional plan or several times reading through the passage. Sometimes I’ve had to do some research into context or language used for something to stand out. Today, though, it was obvious what I wanted to focus on – Gethsemane, specifically Mark chapter 14 verse 36 which is when Jesus is praying. It reads,
“‘Abba, Father,’ he cried out, ‘everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want YOUR WILL to be done, NOT MINE.‘”
In the verses before this, Mark tells us that Jesus’ soul was “crushed with grief to the point of death.” This is when many versions of the gospel tell us that Jesus was so stressed that he sweat blood.
This stuck out to me because of how profoundly human it was. We focus so much on the divinity of Jesus. We have to. It’s the defining factor. Jesus was the Son of God. He is God. Jesus is God come to Earth as a man. His divine nature is why his sacrifice is able to cover all of our sins. So that is an incredibly important aspect of who Jesus is. But he was also human. He felt thirst, hunger, temptation, stress, and fear. He knew what was required of him. He had known for a long time. But he still begged God not to have to do this. He begged God to find another way so that he wouldn’t have to endure the agony of the cross. But even in his stress, fear, and pleading, he says “Yet I want your will to be done, NOT MINE.” Jesus admits that if it were up to him, he wouldn’t have to do this, but he knew that it ultimately wasn’t up to him. He knew God had a bigger plan. He knew God saw the wider picture. We have a snapshot. God has the whole panoramic photo. Jesus knew that God’s will was superior to his own in this moment.
This is so important to me because I find comfort in the fact that Jesus was worried about his own death. I can relate to that. There are so many things that Jesus did that I know are good and wonderful things, but that I can’t relate to because I am a fallible human with a sinful heart. But this…this I can empathize with. I see this and I know that I would feel the same way in his situation. I would beg, too. I would also ask God, “Please. Please can we find another way?”
But where I would chicken out, freak, and run away, Jesus says, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Jesus is having his own version of a freak out moment, and he consigns himself to his fate anyway. He is a Savior who has felt what I feel every day. He knows me because he has experienced life the way I have. How many other religions can claim that their God completely and fully understands what it means to be human? I would say none, but I’m not a religion expert so I’ll just venture to say not many.
How incredible is that?! It just blows me away.
So, I decided to meditate on the idea that it is God’s will that should always prevail, not my own. Just like Jesus decided in the garden on the eve of his horrifying and gruesome death. He had so much more reason to deny God’s will than I ever have, and yet he decided “Your will, not mine.” And aren’t we grateful for that decision?
I started by thinking about these verses and how I wanted to illustrate them.
The entire verse says, “Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
The disciples and Jesus had just had their Passover meal. They partook of bread and wine. Then, Jesus comes to the Garden of Gethsemane and prays for this cup to be taken from him. So, I chose to illustrate this verse with a cup of wine and letter the words, “Your will, not mine.”
Step 1: Sketch it with a pencil
The first thing I did was sketch out my design and my letters lightly with a pencil. This helps me make sure I can fix any mistakes easily, but it also gives me a quick look at the design before it’s set in stone, and if I don’t like it I can change it.
Once I sketched it out, fixed mistakes, and decided I liked it I had to decide what medium I wanted to use to illustrate it. I’m really enjoying watercolors in my Bible Journaling right now, so that’s what I decided on.
Step 2: Fill it in
I used my watercolors to paint over the glass and the wine. Then, I painted over the page to complete the illustration. I put a recipe card from an old Blue Apron meal behind the page as I was watercoloring to protect the pages behind it.
Step 3: Lettering
After I finished the watercolors, I stepped away to let the paint dry. It needs to be completely dry before you add any lettering on top of it. I used my black .5mm Micro-Line pen to outline the cup and do the lettering. I could have done this step before the watercolors. As long as I give the ink a few seconds to dry, the water won’t cause the pen ink to bleed. But I wanted the letters to stand out and not be muted at all by the paint, so I did them last.
This was my finished product. The font was something I copied off of a Pinterest graphic. I have an entire board dedicated to lettering fonts. The key to making them look good is to make all the downstroke lines about twice as thick as the upstrokes.
I’m happy with the way it turned out. Another option I could’ve used would’ve been to color in the design with my colored pencils, or even just outlining it in black marker if you want something more simple.
The options for Bible Journaling are endless. I would love to hear from you as you journal through your bible. Comment below and let me know if you have any other questions about Bible Journaling. I would also love to see any of your designs, so you can add those in the comments also.
Remember, the most important thing is to use the time it takes to create your illustration to meditate on the scripture. Let it fill you and really resonate within you. That’s the whole point. If you find yourself more worried about the way your design looks then you’re doing it wrong. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, think about the words and what they mean to you, then move on.
Here are a few other designs I’ve done. Feel free to copy them in your own Bible Journals or to use them as inspiration.