Some Tips on Journaling

Journaling, writing something down about what you have read in Scripture, is thought by many to be a helpful spiritual discipline. It certainly is for me. Of course, all of us are different. Some will love writing while others will find it a chore. The Bible does not command that we journal, so this is not a spiritual requirement.

However, if you would like to give journaling during your time in God’s word a try, I want to share with you a model that is easy to learn and helpful to me. This is how I’ve been journaling for years, and I recently saw it defined with a nice acronym in the book Growing Up: How to be a Disciple who Makes Disciples by Robby Gallaty. Gallaty uses the word “H.E.A.R.” to help us to remember four categories of writing:

·         H – Highlight

·         E – Explain

·         A – Apply

·         R – Respond

Highlight – The first thing that I do when journaling is, after reading, highlight the one verse or passage that most got my attention during the reading. I write that verse down (well, copy and paste from my Bible program) at the top of the page for my journal for the day.

Explain – I will next write a paragraph or a few simply explaining the verse. I’ll try to give a little context and a little summarization of what is going on or being said. I may also point specifically to what made the verse stand out to me.

Apply – Once I have explained the verse, I will write about what major spiritual truth is coming through to me because of the passage. This is different than simply explaining what the author meant. Now I want to write about how this impacts believers today. Sometimes the application is obvious, the following of a direct command. Sometimes the application is more broad as I find a general truth in a passage.

Respond – Finally, I will try to write something of a response to the passage. It may be something I specifically intend to do or to think differently because of the passage. I might write a prayer that is a response to a truth that God has shown me in his word.

Truly, these categories are only there to be helpful. Sometimes explanation and application will blur. Sometimes sections will be longer or shorter. And, remember, God never commanded us to journal at all, much less did he command us to journal in a particular way. So, do not let yourself feel any requirement to follow this pattern or follow the categories slavishly.

If you would like to see examples of my daily reading journal entries, visit my personal blog site: . Most of the entries on that site are entries from my daily readings. I often will journal only on weekdays and leave weekend reading to be a little more restful, but others will find that they journal most on Saturday. Certainly do not think you need to do what I do. However, if any of this is helpful, take it and put it to use as you are helped.

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