Bible journaling is fast becoming a global revolution and for good reason. It combines the pleasure of making art with a form of meditation- and both of these activities are good for body, mind and soul.
Art therapy is already well-known for its health benefits. Making art- whether it’s writing, painting or another form of creative expression- reduces anxiety and lifts depression. It sometimes brings physical healing too, according to research.
Meditation and prayer have powerful effects. Just 15 minutes of prayer or meditation on God’s love each day strengthens the pre-frontal cortex of the brain and increases our ability to feel compassion and empathy for fellow human beings. Meditation also calms the amygdala -the alarm centre of the brain- so decreasing fear and anxiety.
Bible journaling, therefore, offers a double dose of spiritual wellbeing for those who are open to pursuing it.
As a spiritual discipline, it was almost unheard of until a few years ago. But in less than three years a Facebook bible journaling community founded by Shanna Noel gained a staggering 40,000 members, and many other websites and social media pages on the subject have been launched.
If you’re open to exploring the Bible and expressing faith in an unconventional way, you might find Bible journaling a great inspiration and adventure.
It’s quite likely that the journaling process will deepen your understanding of the Christian faith. Some people experience God meeting them through a particular passage. Feel free to express your unique personality and remember, this is a devotional time of worship and interaction between you and the Lord, and it’s not about producing a flawless work of art.
- First decide whether you’ll buy a custom-built journaling bible. Some of these new bibles include beautiful illustrations and decorative covers; all have wide margins so that art-journalers can add their own illustrations and handwritten comments alongside sections of scripture. But if you already have an ordinary bible and don’t want to buy a journaling edition, you can choose a verse and then illustrate it in an artist’s sketch pad. (No Bible? Google popular bible verses)
- Explore the art materials available online which are suitable for use with bibles (for example, some drawing pens are suitable, along with colored pencils, water colour paints (but gesso the page first) and Gelato sticks. For a very basic kit, Sakura Micron pens don’t usually bleed through the pages, and you can add colour with beautiful Prismacolor premium pencils. You can also use stamps, stickers and washi tape, and go for a multi-media approach if it appeals to you. When composing your page, use a pencil to sketch an outline first unless you’re a bold and fearless soul or an accomplished artist.
We’re talking about art, so there’s no right or wrong way to do it. But as this is a spiritual exercise, it’s good to say a prayer before you start, asking for inspiration! You can ask your Heavenly Father, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to guide you through the process.
Typically, people will choose a favorite bible story or passage and read it through a few times, reflecting on its meaning. You can research the passage online if you feel you want a deeper understanding of it. Then pick out a key verse or concept and consider how you can represent it visually, with words or images.
If you get stuck, then go to Google images or Pinterest and search for your chosen verse. You’ll find lots of ideas for almost any bible verse! (Who said the Bible has gone out of date? It’s still the best-selling book of all time and the number of images online reflect this fact). There are many wonderful pieces of bible art out there to give you some inspiration.
Now get creative…and you’ll be meditating naturally as you focus on expressing your chosen verse or concept. It usually takes a couple of hours or more to complete a page, so you may find you become emotionally and spiritually involved at quite a deep level. And even if you simply relax and enjoy making art, it will be great fun and good for your soul.