I’ve been using journals and writing in my bible for over a decade, but recently I started using Notion to take digital bible study notes and track prayers. I’ve had a ton of fun and seen a lot of growth in my faith life since starting this process, and I want to share my template and tips with you today.
I’ve talked about it a lot on my YouTube channel and blog, but if you still haven’t heard of it, Notion (affiliate link) is a digital platform for all kinds of things. Think Evernote, Asana, Google Docs, and a database all rolled into one beautiful application.
Notion has been a core in my business and personal life over the past year and I am still finding new uses for it all the time. Recently, I wanted to find a way to start building up my bible studies into a searchable and resource-filled database within Notion. After playing around with a few templates and options, I settled on one template that I made some adjustments to. You can watch that video below and grab the free template.
Even if you have my exact template to use and you’re well-versed in all things Notion, studying your bible in a digital format can feel very odd if you’ve never done it before. Personally, I’m someone who loves to physically write my thoughts in my Bibles. I love Bible journaling and I still regularly take notebooks to church with me. However, I’ve found that adding a digital element to my studying has actually improved my understanding of the whole story of God and allowed me to revisit sermons and notes with more intentionality. So, let’s talk about some workflows that might help you do the same.
Normally I’d spend a church sermon scratching notes down the entire time and flipping through my Bible. Since getting into this new system, I’ve decided to stop bringing notes to church and just sit and listen as actively as I can and practice being present.
Then, a few days later when our church posts their sermons online, I take some time each weekend to rewatch and type out all my notes as I go. This actually works so much better for me because I can pause the video to get all my notes out and because I’ve already heard the sermon, I can notice and catch things I might have missed the first time.
I also like to go back through my notes once I’m done with them before next week’s sermon to review the main ideas and topics before continuing a series.
So far, this process has helped me retain more from our church sermons and it’s also given me insight into how our sermons tie in with the larger story of God as I do my own studies and reading. I love that this makes finding connections and tracking chapters so easy. And the best part is that I can return to these notes whenever I want to and continue to add to them and learn from them.
In addition to church, I am currently working my way through a two-year bible reading plan. The plan I am using takes you through every book in the old testament while sprinkling the new testament, and the psalms throughout your daily reading. Because it’s spread over two years, the readings are fairly short, but each day there’s a challenge that says the following:
In today’s readings, do you notice a promise to trust, a command to obey, a truth to embrace, a warning to heed, or an encouragement to rest in?
In the past, I would just treat this daily plan as a task to get done rather than an actual study. I decided when I started this plan that I wanted to be more intentional as I read through the bible and actually answer these prompts every day. Even if I’m short on time, I might just jot down a few words, but some days I write out pages of prayers, journaling, thoughts and make connections that I never would have done before.
I created a template in notion for quick-adding a daily entry into my study notes so that every day, whether from my phone or computer, I can jump straight into my thoughts and get my notes down.
Whenever possible, I do my best to use the mention feature (@) to connect my notes to characters, places, or books of the bible so that I’m continuously building up a web of connections as I read through the stories.
I’ve used the Bible app by YouVersion for years, and pretty recently, they added a prayer feature that lets you track your prayers and share prayers with others. However, I never used the feature much and until recently I wasn’t sure why.
First, I really like typing prayers out, but not on a phone. Currently, there’s no way to quickly add prayers from your computer on YouVersion. Whereas I can add prayers from any device with Notion.
Second, the interface for prayers is fairly simple in YouVersion, but I wanted to be able to add categories, tags, notes, updates and have a little more flexibility with HOW I tracked prayers, Notion just gives me more options.
Lastly, I love being able to connect prayers to a specific scripture. If I’m praying for patience in a situation, being able to link Proverbs 15:18 or Philippians 4:6 directly into my prayer gives me so much context for how God’s word already answers so many of the things I ask God for help with.
So often, my prayer life was completely removed from and separated from my Bible studies. Using this digital format has helped me connect them all together (literally as digital notes and mentally as I mature in this part of my faith). I find myself praying more often and using my prayer notes as a daily journal of sorts to talk to God. I know this may seem so unfamiliar for many people, but I don’t think there’s a WRONG format for prayer and this particular one has been incredibly helpful for me.
Like I said before, I’ve always been a huge note-taker. That means I have about 34 notebooks filled with prayers, sermon notes, bible studies, and thoughts just collecting dust in my basement. Many of my notes are sandwiched between grocery lists, doodles, and task lists that I have no need to look back on. Over the past few months, I’ve started the slow process of converting these notes to my digital system.
One of the most incredible realizations I’ve had since starting this process is HOW much I’ve grown in my faith over the past 10 years. Looking at my prayers and journal entries has given me so much to be thankful for as I see prayer after prayer answered, notes about the stressors in my life and how God has stepped into my pain over and over again. It’s also been really therapeutic to see my growth from a college student to wife to mama. So many of the sermons I took notes on in my early twenties now apply even more to me as a wife or a mom.
Truthfully, these notebooks probably would have sat in my basement for another decade if I didn’t have a good reason to pull them out of hiding. Take this as your sign to pull out those old journals and read through some entries.
Having your notes in any digital format can be beneficial, but Notion specifically gives you a lot of options when it comes to utilizing these notes.
- You can share individual pages, prayers, or entire databases. If you wanted to share notes with a bible study group, a friend, or a family member, you can copy a link or add them to the page in seconds. Sharing pages means giving them the option to comment, expand on or just view the page itself. I love being able to share prayers with specific people or just share sermon notes with my husband.
- Embedding additional elements into your notes. Adding a podcast, youtube video, or PDF into your notes is super quick and easy, giving your database a broader view of the notes as a whole. You can also add photos or whatever decorative elements you want to really make your notes your own.
- Not worrying about the handwriting, spelling, or “prettiness” of your notebook helps you focus on the content rather than the page. Personally, I am terrible at spelling, and having a quick way to spell-check myself makes it so much easier to not worry about what my notes look like. Not to mention, I’m not much of an artist, so adding digital elements to my notes helps me enjoy the process more than if I were trying to doodle or make my pages more aesthetically pleasing.
- It’s faster! Most people can type more words per minute than writing (especially if you want that writing to be legible). This can be a huge advantage when taking notes along with audio or video and make it easier to keep up with the content you’re reviewing.
- Having your notes be digital means you always have access to them. Obviously, this may not be an option in every scenario, but I have taken notes on my phone while at bible study groups or even in church, and no one seems to care. We live in such a digital society, that you can pretty much have your phone on you at all times to access your notes and data. And if you can’t, you could always print the notes you need from Notion beforehand.
Personally, I have loved this addition of digital elements to my life. I feel it’s helped me focus more intentionally on my bible studies and get more from my sermons and prayers than in the past. As someone who is extremely type-A, even the setup of this database has been really relaxing and fulfilling.