Bible study is a tricky thing to figure out. As believers, we know it’s something we should do, but we don’t always feel like it (just being honest), and when we do feel like it, we don’t always know what to do. Often we become frustrated, not feeling like we’re “accomplishing” anything through our Bible study time, and quit before we ever really get started.

Just this year I found *gasp* a method that works for me, and I’m hooked. It’s a rather in-depth way of studying and does take some time, but I’ve found that I actually enjoy it. That makes it a whole lot easier to want to come back to it every morning!

Materials needed: Bible, journal (mine is 8 1/2 x 11, so it’ll take longer to fill up), and multicolored pens (I use erasable pens and Flair felt-tipped pens). I also use a journaling Bible, which we’ll talk about in a minute.

How to Start Bible Journaling

Step 1: Pray. The purpose of this and all Bible study is not simple knowledge of Biblical facts and history, but to know God better. He reveals Himself through His Word; pray before you begin that you’d see Him and learn more about who He is through the reading. Some passages are difficult to assess like this, but God has a purpose in all of them. Pray that He would help you to find it.

Step 2: Use the designated sections (usually marked by sectional captions) in your Bible. I recommend reading one section per day unless you get ambitious and want to do more. Write the verse reference (e.g. Matthew 1:1-6) in your journal.

Step 3: Read the passage without making notes or reading the study notes or consulting a commentary. Just read it nice and slow. The purpose of this reading is to get a broad view of the verses and what they’re actually communicating.

Step 4: Take on the passage verse by verse. If you have a thought or question…it reminds you of something…you can think of a clearer way to express the main idea…whatever your PERSONAL thoughts are on a particular verse, write it in your journal.

Step 5: As you go through verse by verse, after you’ve written your personal thoughts, read a commentary, or consult another source and go back through the passage verse by verse. I just read the study notes in my Bible unless I need a deeper explanation. Then I go to a separate commentary. Many of these can be found online.

Step 6: Write notes from the study notes or commentary. I usually write the new things I learned or the details that struck me as being particularly interesting. In a way, this becomes your own commentary on the passage.

Step 7: Record your “takeaway” from the passage – whatever really caught your attention or that you want to remember. What did you learn about God? How do you know His character better? How can this be applied to your life right now? If someone asked you what you learned, what would you say?

That’s it unless you want to go a step further…

Step 8: Here’s where the journaling Bible comes in. Go to the page of the passage you studied and illustrate your takeaway. Most of the time mine is just rephrasing the takeaway and writing it in pretty colors and different styles of lettering. Sometimes I get inspired and actually draw something, and other times I simply write a prayer pertaining to the passage and my takeaway. It’s up to you, but don’t stress about it! Perfection is not the point.

That’s it! It does take a little time, especially if it’s a tough passage, but I’ve found it’s a way to engage with the Word AND learn a little something. That’s kind of the idea anyway.

Let me know if you try it, or share if you have a preferred method you use! We can all learn from each other and what works for other people. That’s just part of life in community!

Happy studying!

This post originally appeared on Jessica Bolyard’s blog. Read it here.