I’m always surprised by how many people don’t write in their Bible.
Underlining, circling, boxing, highlighting, jotting notes in the margins — all of it — is very helpful to my soul. I love taking ink to the book.
Some folks don’t write in their Bible because they feel weird about it — don’t worry; you aren’t defacing or treating the Bible as common. No way. Writing in your Bible provides handles to help you navigate the Word and drive it into your head and heart. I think it’s a great way to honor God and his word; signs of a feast (Jer. 15:16).
Here are six reasons why I think you should write in your Bible.
1) Marking up the Bible helps you see what’s there.
It’s one thing to read and it’s another thing to see.
Underling, circling, etc. is a great way to help you behold what is going on in a particular text. Marking repetition, key words or phrases, even making your own cross-references is a great way to see what’s what in the text.
If I’m going to focusing on one chapter or a paragraph, I bust out my arsenal of pens. If I’m reading a whole book or a very large section of Scripture, I’ll keep my standard black pen ready for the verse that knocks me in the face and begs me to pay it some attention.
2) It’ll help you process what is there.
Once you see it, you’ll be able to think & plow through it like vegans at a salad bar. Writing in your Bible puts up landmarks, and as you work your way through an Epistle you can look back and see the connections and it helps you process the context, the flow, and the theme of the book, chapter, section, or verse.
Beholding (seeing) leads to meditating, pondering, and processing.
3) You’ll remember more of the Bible.
There is some cognitive super-power that awakens in our brains when we put ink to ink. Studies have shown that underlining, highlighting, and jotting comments stores a nano-bit of the information for later use. Marking up a sentence is a form active reading; it engages more of our mental capacity and memory.
4) You can find what you found.
Have you ever scuttled through pages trying to access a verse that rocked your noggin and heart but couldn’t find it again?
When you mark up a sweet connection in Titus where Paul rifles a pointed phrase through all three chapters — you won’t lose it. It’s outed and etched in the margin.
Proverbs 16 is chock-full of God’s sovereign goodness. I underlined all the sovereign flexes and wrote “sov” in the margin — now I can quickly find them, exult in God’s glory, and encourages others from Proverbs 16.
5) Create Your Own Cross-references.
Bible publishers are kind enough to help us with their prefab cross-references. Thanks guys. I love my home-brewed connections too. The knot gets tighter when you cinch it yourself.
Your handwritten connections will increase your retrieval of verses and will fortify your knowledge of the intertwined Genesis to Revelation.
6) Most importantly, it will help you worship God with your heart and mind.
Obviously we can worship God without writing in our Bibles. No doubt.
And I know that when I circle words, see what’s going on under the hood of a paragraph, and how it fits in the context of Biblical Theology — it moves me to worship God. Reading with a pen in the holster is a great help to my devotion and doxology of the Triune God.
So what do you think? Why do you write in your Bible? . . . Or why don’t you?