How to Start Bible Journaling for Beginners

I have a passionate love for the Bible. I wasn’t raised Christian, and I think the beauty of the Biblical text is really what pulled me into the Christian faith. The sweeping arcs of the psalms; the incredible symbolism and meaning woven into every word and name in books like Ruth; the beauty and meaning of Jesus’ words in the gospels. The Bible isn’t just a book; it’s a library of spiritual instruction, proverbs, poetry, history, and literature. So let me tell you first and foremost, because I know a lot of people are hesitant about Bible journaling: what brings me to Bible journaling is a deep love and appreciation for the Word of God.

What is Bible Journaling?

What is Bible journaling? Bible journaling is a creative devotional practice. Specifically, it’s the practice of responding to the Biblical text in a creative way in the pages of your Bible — with art, prayers, or notes.

When you hear of Bible journaling, you may think specifically of art that covers the text of the page. That doesn’t have to be the case. You can choose to do Bible journaling any number of ways, for example:

Art and lettering in the margins of your Bible, next to the text.

Making art in the headers of a book of the Bible.

Bible journaling headers

Creating art on a blank page next to the Biblical text, or in a separate notebook.

How to Start Studying the Bible

Or even creating art in transparent sheets you insert in your Bible.

Or finally writing lots of notes and prayers in your Bible, like I do here.

Unfortunately I think the popularity of Bible art journaling means most people don’t think of this as Bible journaling, but I think it is! Ultimately, Bible journaling is just about responding to the Bible in a personal way, in the pages of that Bible. And that includes not just art, but also notes and prayers!

Is Bible journaling disrespectful?

Some people feel a lot of apprehension about Bible journaling. I can understand that. If you were raised in a house where even writing notes in the margins of your Bible, or underlining or highlighting, was considered wrong, then of course this feels way out of bounds. And maybe it’s not about how you were raised — maybe it’s just a gut feeling. If that’s you, then that’s totally okay. I’m not trying to convince or convert anyone!

That said, I personally not believe that Bible journaling is disrespectful to God or God’s word, and I have found it a really meaningful experience that has enriched my faith personally.

God is the Creator, and we were created in God’s image. That means that we, too, are creative beings. More than that, we were created to be in relationship with God. Devotional practices are a way to build that relationship. And when those devotional practices involve creativity, especially if that creativity incorporates the Bible, I think that’s only more true.

Why I love Bible journaling as a devotional practice

What I love about Bible journaling is that it makes the Bible feel more accessible to many people who struggle to relate to the text. I know a lot of people have a hard time making sense of the Bible, or creating a personal devotional practice with it. I think part of that is because it feels so sacred to us. It’s ancient, it’s complex, and it’s holy — we’re afraid to “do it wrong.” But Bible journaling creates a new way for us to relate to the text. It lets you turn off the worried, overthinking part of your brain, and respond to God’s word in a way that is devotional.

I believe that God wants a relationship with us. If we are so caught up in fear and rules that we don’t know how to appreciate the beauty of God and God’s word, we are not engaging in that relationship. Not all of us need a creative way to connect to scripture. But for those that do, Bible journaling can be a gift. It can be an incredible way to relate to, understand, and appreciate the text better.

One of the main concerns I see with bible journaling is the worry that covering up the pages of scripture is obscuring God’s word. I will tell you that for me personally, any art journaling I do is in a separate Bible from my daily personal use Bible. And again, if you do Bible journaling, you don’t have to do it over the page —the margins, or even a separate notebook, are totally great spaces to do this!

What do you need for Bible journaling?

All you really need to Bible journal is — you guessed it — a Bible and a pen. If you want to expand a little bit, you can try colored pencils, watercolor pencils, paints, stickers, washi tapes, and more. But to start out, all you need is the Bible and a pen — and specifically, a pen that doesn’t bleed through the page.

A Bible used for Bible journaling. How to Start Bible Journaling: A Guide for Beginners

Which Journaling Bible I Use

A Bible used for Bible journaling. How to Start Bible Journaling: A Guide for Beginners
How to start Bible journaling for beginners! This is how my Bible looks when it’s open to a clean, non-journaled page.

I use the Black ESV Single Column Journaling Bible by Crossway. I like that the pages are cream-colored, with lots of margin room that comes faintly lined. Here is an example blank spread, with some “ghosting” shown on the left side.

Using this wide-margin Bible for Bible journaling has been such a great experience for me. I actually now use a wide-margin Bible for my daily personal use Bible, too.

What Pens for Bible journaling?

My favorite pens to use in my Bible are the Sakura Pigma Micron 01 Ink Pen Set, and my favorite highlighters are the Zebra Eco Zebrite Double-Ended Highlighters, Fine Point. The reason I like these is because they don’t bleed or “ghost” through the page. To learn more about my recommendations and why I chose them, see my favorite supplies here.

Pens used for Bible journaling. How to Start Bible Journaling: A Guide for Beginners
How to start Bible journaling for beginners! These are my favorite highlighters and pens for Bible journaling.

I also use a few other supplies when I journal. My favorite paints are these Artist’s Loft Watercolors, which are perfectly pigmented. They also and don’t mess with the flow of the paper too much. My favorite way to get a watercolor effect without using too much water is to use pencils. The Derwent Inktense pencils are my favorite. These have a great consistency and a really rich color payoff that looks beautiful on the page.

For vibrant colors, I use Faber-Castell Gelatos, which are like oil pastels that come in a protective tube. They’re expensive, but the colors are so rich and beautiful! You can see an example of those below.

How do I start Bible journaling?

Alright, so you have your Bible, your pen(s), and maybe some extras, like paints, stamps, or stickers. The next thing to do is find a verse.

Bible journaling can be a little scary, especially if you’re not used to writing in your Bible before. For that reason, I recommend starting off with a verse that you already know well. Starting with a verse you’re familiar with takes away discomfort when it comes to journaling for the first time. If it’s one you know well, it may also help you come up with ideas more easily.

A Bible used for Bible journaling. How to Start Bible Journaling: A Guide for Beginners
How to start Bible journaling for beginners! This is a great verse to start with, because it is one that I know well and am comfortable with, but that doesn’t mean the whole world to me.

Once you’re more comfortable with journaling in your Bible, you can include art journaling in your regular devotional practice. For example, you might find yourself making art for Bible verses that come up in a study you’re doing. Or, for verses your church covered in this week’s service. Or for verses that you went over in your personal Bible study routine.

If you’re new to Bible study in general, check out my guide how to start studying the Bible!

How to Get Inspired for Bible Journaling

I’m a creative soul, but I’m not an artistic soul. I find it difficult to come up with new designs for verses, especially ones I’m not familiar with. For that reason, I like to find inspiration — and with the internet, that’s easier to do than ever.

One of the best places to find inspiration is Pinterest. There are tons of Bible journaling boards full of inspiration. Here’s mine:

Follow Sara’s board Bible Journaling on Pinterest.

You can also do a Google search for “Bible journaling” and the verse you chose, to see designs that other people have done with that same verse! Finding inspiration in places like these is a great way to get started with Bible journaling. It can also help you figure out your style and the kinds of art you’d like to try.

How to Start Bible Journaling

Alright, here comes the exciting part! You have your tools and verse. You’re excited to get going. Let’s get started!

Settle into your devotional practice as you normally would. Make a cup of tea or coffee, find a quiet spot. Make some mental space for your time with God. Sink into a prayer to ground yourself. Pull out a devotional, commentary, or educational resource on the verse, chapter, or book you’re looking at today.

Reflect on the verse

Read it over a few times; maybe do a little background research. Let it sink into your bones. Pray over it. Personally, I think about the parts of the verse that mean something to me, and then I try to figure out how I can represent them in art.

Sketch it out with a pencil

I like to use a simple mechanical pencil to do my sketching so that I don’t make any permanent mistakes!

Outline it with pen

I use my skinny Pigma Microns to do this, as they don’t bleed through the paper.

Fill it in with color

Next, I use gel pens, colored pencils, and watercolor pencils to add color and dimension to my design! Add watercolors, or washi-tape in a photo or printed painting from the Internet that adds to your devotional practice.

Now, that wasn’t so scary, was it?

I hope this post benefited or inspired you to try Bible journaling yourself. If you liked it, check out these other posts of mine:

Sara Laughed

Hey hey! I'm Sara, an American writer living in the Netherlands and working as a product manager.

  1. Sasha Maples Johns says:

    I started this earlier this year when my best friend gave me a beautiful red journaling bible. Since my 11 year old daughter has also begun with a small group of her friends.

    1. Michelle says:

      Hello, i am a beginner and I’m searching for help a Bible study to follow but i see that I’ll need ebooks to download i don’t have that, I’ve started on a few pages but i want the work to seep into my heart that’s why I’m blessed to have come across journaling bc it’s so hard for me to read the Bible and understand it, so i thought I’d begin journaling

  2. Lori Lyons Luhrman says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your passion (including tutorials for those of us that are a little less artsy!). Although I’m not a very visually creative person, I do find this type of journaling helpful in really allowing Scripture to sink in deep!

  3. Sherry Pope says:

    I am new at this and was wondering if you prep your page if you are using gel pens, colored pencils,and the water color pencils.

  4. Staci says:

    Thank you for sharing this post! I’m very new to bible journaling and can’t find workshops or groups in my area to learn and grow. Looking forward to more tutorials:)

  5. Great post, thanks for sharing!!! I have a similar post in blog about journaling bibles. Since I’m looking for a bible, is more like a journey finding out the best bible for me. Loved your reviews!!!!

  6. Riley Moore says:

    This really helped me a lot! I’m not really good at drawing and I’m always so afraid I’m going to mess up, especially in my bible, and I just recently got a bible for christmas, so this gave me confidence and knowledge on how to start off!

  7. Jane Totten says:

    I did it . I did my first “Bible Journalling” on Sunday,and I made 2 important discoveries: I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, and, that when you illustrate a verse using your own talents in this way you learn to understand Gods word in a special way. Thank you Sara for showing me my special way.

  8. Quicksilvr2Gold says:

    Love your Bible verse art– if you put it on white card stock instead, you could post it around the house to help you memorize the verses.

  9. DKrumichOgonowski says:

    I absolutely love this idea of Bible Journaling. I just recently heard of doing it. I used to only highlight in my bible since i was in High school. May I feature this on my blog, coffeeprayhustle.com?

  10. Kayla Goodson says:

    Thank you for all this helpful advice!!! I am jumping on the bandwagon and I am super excited! I have recently started my own blog as well that is faith and family based. I am shy in the way that I am more comfortable sharing the gospel in my writing than my verbal words. So I decided to be a witness in the digital sense and start my blog. I think that by doing a bible journal I can deliver a clear message to my up and coming readers. So thank you for writing this blog and helping me with my future 🙂 I am subscribed so i can get all the latest news from you!!!!
    Feel free to check out my blog as well http://www.humblehoneybee.com
    It is still a work in process, but I am working on it daily!!!!

    Thank you again!

  11. Denise Lea Tonna says:

    Thank you for sharing this! It is the first post I have read on Bible journaling. I saw a sign at my local scrapbooking store that said “Bible journaling supplies now in stock” so I had to find out what it was and now I’m in love before I’ve even started!!! I need me a journaling Bible!! <3

  12. Going to take a deep breath and dive into Bible journaling this weekend. Have been thinking on it for sometime but always scared when I start (and work on) a new hobby. So afraid of failure…so STUPID to be that way. Have “met” Bethany at Southern Couture through the blogging world and following her 5 day intro to journaling. Now stumbled upon you through Pinterest.
    Thank you for the encouraging words, the examples, your list of preferred tools. Here I go!

  13. Anne Husbands says:

    I just heard about Bille journaling and I’m am so excited, I think this will be a great way to study in depth and Find the way that scripture is speaking to us helping us understand what God needs us to fill our hearts and minds with! It is always easier to remember when you write something down, I just know that journaling is going to be awesome and I can’t wait to get my first Bilbe Journal! My husband and I are missionaries and I think this would be helpful to new Christains, as well as us older ones! Thank you so very much for sharing! God Bless you!

  14. Cindy says:

    Im new to the creative bible journaling. So i went to my local dollar tree and got a small lined notebook it has thicker paper than regular note books and i write in the verses i like on one page and then draw what it means to me on the opposite page. I think about the key words that of the sentence and go from there i look online for inspiration. Maybe one day i can put it in my bible but so far i just highlight the verses.

    1. Linda says:

      What a great idea, Cindy! I hesitate to make a mess of my new Bible, so this might be a way for me to gain some confidence before actually journaling in it!

  15. Tracey Shadday says:

    Thanks for a well written article for beginners. I am a scrapbooker and a fellow creative soul as you, but not very artistic. I have learned how powerful learning is when engaging the right brain (color, doodling, free association). The technique you are teaching and encouraging will cause us to hide God’s Word in our heart more readily. Thank you.

  16. Terry Littleton says:

    I am concerned about the indentation left on the backside of my coloring. Is this the “ghosting” you mentioned? I heavy handed and I have stopped until I know what to do! HELP!

    1. Tatia says:

      Hi Terry. Pages of your Bible are thin and soft so you will get indentations from writing especially if you are a bit heavy handed. Try using a piece of thin cardboard like from a cereal box or a piece of heavy cardstock and put under the page you are journaling on. You won’t get the indentations so much this way. I have a feeling as you go along you will begin to write with less heavy handedness as you get used to the way it feels. Kind of a muscle memory thing. The ghosting is where you see a hint of the ink through on the other side because the pages are thin. Not necessarily bleed through. But don’t stop! Keep going!

  17. What an awesome article. I have been wanting to do this for sometime now, but I’m so scared to do it. I have no problem writing in my Bible for notes or anything else. I am not good at drawing or anything. Every time I see someone’s journaling I get intimidated and I’m like I can’t do that! I will look into that Bible and your suggestions. Do you know if there is a NKJV Bible that I could use for journaling?

    I found your site through Pinterest (learning how to use that!). New to blogging!

  18. Sara says:

    While I love the look of Bible journaling, I can’t get over the fact that it makes the Word itself impossible to read. I’m assuming you don’t use your everyday Bible to decorate, but doesn’t pretty lettering and doodles detract from the message conveyed? Why not have an art journal set aside for creatively lettering or doodling Bible verses or themes?

    (Those are honest questions, I’m not being snarky, just trying to wrap my head around it.)

  19. Mary Valentine says:

    Very thoughtful and useful blog, thanks for your sharing ideas.

    Rather than confining my journaling to the actual pages of my bible, I am in the process of developing an organized, structured notebook (ordinary three ring binder style) for my personal journaling. I am going to design and create printable pages for specific journaling tasks. I have looked and looked for templates to study, but most have been disappointingly superficial or too much is crammed incongruously on to one page.

    I do not want to spend all my time drawing pretty pictures and calling it journaling. I don’t mind illustrations — I am an artist and I love the illuminated copies of the bible. However, right along side of my artistic tendencies, I am of a mind that is scholarly. Possessing that characteristic, among other things, I want to read, write, meditate, absorb, apply, and make note of answers to prayer in an orderly and productive way.

    To aid this end, I want my journal to be categorized into different areas that are easy to refer to and have distinct and different purposes that all work together to serve the same purpose: To know Christ — grow in Grace, and to serve Him — particularly in the area of prayer warfare. I also would hope, that when I die, God could use my journal to help others if He so chooses. I have heard it said, that successful people throughout history have kept journals. For example, I have been moved overwhelmingly by the Journals written by individuals who lived through American Civil War. Their writings provide profound insight to the experience of that era. I want my journal to do the same for others in the matter of one’s walk with the Lord.

    Keep up the good work, and may Christ keep you close.

    Again, thank you for sharing!
    Mary Valentine
    Eugene, Oregon

    1. Paula says:

      Wow that’s awesome! I would love to see you organized notebook! I’ve always wanted to do this and I have lots of notebooks filled but not organized and not profound in any way at all! I’m simple in words but love eloquent fluid speech so
      You impress delight in my soul. Thanks for sharing inspiration!

  20. Doraine chirco says:

    I’m very new and I am so confused on how to start. I have a hard time putting things in to words and even how to do this. Help please. Ty and God bless

  21. O says:

    Although your work is beautiful, I just don’t feel that it’s right to cover up scripture in marker or paint. The Bible journaling where the scripture isn’t covered is fantastic (the picture with the Bible journaling done on the white section on the side margin)

    1. Mary T. says:

      What’s great about single margin Bibles is that it allows people who don’t want to cover the words space to do their art or take notes or both. I’m thankful to have more than one Bible so I can have one without art and one with. I have found that my long-lost desire to draw has been rekindled and feel it is a way to connect with God, His Word, and give back to Him the gift He gave me. ❤️

  22. Carmen Williams says:

    You go girl, Have fun learning bible verses that will inspire you on your journeys as you teach and inspire others this creative art form.

  23. Connie says:

    I am very interested in this. I have always written and put pictures in the margin of my bible to remind me of facts. Just not sure about beginning this.

  24. Crystal Ramos says:

    Hi I am 12 and want to get more into the Bible and thought Bible journaling would help so I searched it up and found you I really hope that it helps me un

  25. Karen Lloyd says:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve done a little bit myself, though in separate notebook rather than in my Bible, and I’m planning an evening with out young people, mostly girls (!), to introduce them to this way of engaging with Scripture. Looking forward to seeing what the Lord does through this for them and in then.

  26. Mona Lisa Cambra says:

    I can not wait to start my bible journaling.
    I am bless by a friend who shared this website. It’s a sure way to study the word and have that true relationship with The Lord and share with others.

  27. Adam stivers says:

    My name is Adam,
    Last year my wife suffered a massive stroke . Leaving with my four yr old son and my raging opiate addiction we lost the house and the cars .while my wife was at one we both worked and she enabled andpickedup formoreslackthan I realized making my addiction seem far less severe tan it frugally was after three months in a hulk else shelter and nearly losing my son I know clean and recovering and addicted to God I’ve even been asked to start a bile journaling class in church. I just wanted to thank you your site is one of the first I turned to for research so thank you.

  28. Abby bennett says:

    Hi you have helped me so much thank you.i asked for a journal bible for my birthday and got one now I am starting and am excited.

  29. Mary Ann says:

    I have been noticing some bible journaling advertiziments but didn’t understand all of it. You have made it much more clear to me. Thank you so much

  30. Gabi Wohlfarth says:

    Hi I’m Gabi from Germany,
    This is a real good explanation for how to get started on bible journaling.
    Thank you for sharing.
    It really inspires me a lot.
    And as you said, it’s not about creating a great work of art, it’s about allowing the Holy Spirit inspire you an fill you with the love and word of god the almighty.
    I started a bible journaling group a few months ago. We join together every Wednesday afternoon.
    We start of with some real good coffee a little chat (little because we chat all way thru the afternoon 😊😊)
    Then we jump into the word and pray for each other and are really gateful for what god is going to show us.

    I what to encourage everyone who wants to get started and doesn’t know how.
    Just don’t think to much about it. Do it. Do the first step and god will do the rest.

    Be blessed.

  31. susan says:

    I have been looking at Bible Journaling for awhile now. I have a question. Does it bother anyone about covering up the words in the bible and not being able to read them. I make notes in my bible all the time, but, I’m not sure about journaling in my bible. So I made me a Spiritual Journey to save special scriptures or scripture art in it.
    I’m not trying to be critical. I love it. Just wanted what your thoughts were about it.

  32. Crystal says:

    I would like to start Bible journaling, but I’m worried that coloring on the pages will obscure the Scripture. Is there a certain type of pencil that will allow me to continue being able to read my Bible?

  33. Cheryl says:

    Love this…I’ve ALWAYS written notes in the margins of my bobles but had no clue about the artistic journaling side of it…it even has a name!

  34. Thank you for ur info on bible journaling i have a journal bible i bought and now im not so confused i read and researched alot but was confused and now i understand thank you again. Tonya

  35. Sue says:

    Thank you sooooo much. I have the supplies but (even as an artist who has highlighted and made margin notes in a bible) I have been afraid off doing it “wrong”. Your ideas and suggestions are wonderful!! The Lord bless and keep you.

  36. Courtney frances says:

    I have recently been really moved by the spirit, and I have been wanting to find ways to help me connect so that I do t lose that fire that I have for Good, I really appreciate your blog, and you’ve definitely inspired me to do something new and exciting!!!

  37. Elissa says:

    Hello there!!
    Just read the above. What is the actual point of and benefit from bible journaling? Why would someone want to do this? I’m trying to decide if this is for me or not.
    Thank you in advance for your response.

  38. Audrey D Skipwith, says:

    I am new at this. Thank you for your tips. Pray that I will stay excited about learning more about God’s word . I have several of the supplies that you recommended. Iwwant

  39. Gloria gonzales says:

    Hello, I was trying to start a Bible Journaling at the school I work for. I have so many students that I think would love to do this. But I just don’t know where to start? could use some great advice.

  40. Christine says:

    I have purchased the Message Canvas version. My question is how do you stop bleeding with inks that are supposed to be fit for purpose….Pigma micron. And would it be possible to do an ink wash on the paper this Bible uses

  41. Magui says:

    Hello! I was looking about the bible journaling experience on Internet and found you. I think that you are really kind to share your knowledge and to explain in the best way possible this. You inspired me. Thank You!

  42. Melissa Fugitt says:

    Hi I am excited yet a little nervous about starting to do Bible journaling. I was nominated and elected the director over our ladies ministry at for the new physical year I am really excited I have always participated in our WMU but never over it. I am also a Deacons wife and I teach middle school age children 5th thru 8th grades. I thought this would be fun for then as well. I want my granddaughter to see that it doesnt have to be all serious there can be fun to

  43. Ann VanLinden says:

    Hi Sara you have a contagious smile. I’m a beginner Bible Journaling thank you for this blog I’ve learned a lot. Stay safe

  44. Paula says:

    Sara thank you so much for sharing!!!! I love art and most importantly The Bible and to combine the two is an anchor for my soul! I have been intimidated until I read your blog and now I feel deeply inspired to begin and share with many of my loved ones! May Our Abba bless you abundantly!!!

  45. Carolyn Keller says:

    Do you have a separate Bible for journaling? These are beautiful!- but it seems like it would be hard to read the actual scripture on some of these pages.
    But it is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

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