Psalm 112:1-3 says, “Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying His commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever.”
These verses show us the blessing of God’s Word. It is the Biblical principle of sowing and reaping. We sow God’s Word into our lives and family and we reap a harvest of God’s blessings. SHAPE is a way to help you sow. As you sow the Bible into your life, Psalm 112 lists some of the God-sized blessings that you will reap.
What is SHAPE ?
SHAPE is an Acronym for a pattern of journaling that will help you begin to hear God speaking to you through His word, the Bible. It stands for Scripture, Hear, Apply, Pray, and Exalt. Here is a general overview of how it works.
You start by reading a chapter or several chapters in your bible. As you read, mark in your Bible, highlight, underline or star the verses that speak to you. Then write out one or two of them in your journal.
Next, take time to hear from God and what He has to say to you about this verse, or verses. Write down what you believe the Lord is speaking to your heart. Write it out in the voice of God as if He was saying those things directly to you. We believe that when we read the Bible it is God’s divine word and we should expect God to speak to us through it.
Now, here is where it gets real. What are you going to do with what you heard God say? How can you apply what you heard to our life today? Whatever that is, write it down and commit to doing it.
It is good to seal this commitment in prayer to God. Take some time to write out a prayer to God of what is on your heart. It doesn’t have to be a long prayer. Simply ask God to help you, encourage you, and strengthen you to follow through on your commitments and desires for the day.
Exalt means “to lift up” or “Worship”. We want to take time each day to praise God and to be thankful for the blessings we have received. Again, it does not have to be long, a few words of gratitude and thankfulness for what God has already done raises your expectations and awareness so you don’t miss what he has for you next!
How to Get Started
STEP 1 – Find a place
- Find a place where you will not be disturbed (try to use the same time and place each day).
- It is a great option, if you like, to begin with, some worship. You can listen to or sing along with your favorite track. If you play an instrument you can use that to worship. These can be really rewarding times for some people but are not essential.
STEP 2 – Ask God and get ready
- Take a moment to pray and ask God, through His Holy Spirit, to teach you from the Bible what He has for you today.
- If you are reading along with your Pastors and Leaders in the SHAPE Journal Readings, you start by finding the sections of the Bible for the day and read them. It’s ok if you are reading somewhere else. The important thing is that you are reading! Wherever you find yourself reading in the bible, try to read a whole chapter at a time. We recommend at least one chapter in the New Testament. If you want to do more you can add a chapter from Psalms or Proverbs. If you want to take it to the next level, add a chapter from the Old Testament too (this is essentially what the SHAPE Journal Reading Plan consists of).
- Mark off the reading as you do it each day.
STEP 3 – Read and mark it
- Read the passages for the day, marking, underlining or highlighting the verses that speak to you personally from the Lord. This is what the Lord has for you to apply to your life today.
- When you read with an open heart and mind, having asked the Lord for these, He will speak to you from His Word with teachings, correcting, and encouragement. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
STEP 4 – Start the journal
- After you finish your reading, open your SHAPE Journal and turn to a new page to write down what God has taught you. SHAPE Journals are available on Sundays but are really only designed to get you started. Once you have filled a SHAPE Journal we recommend you find a blank journal that you like and start using that.
- Write down the date and the page number.
- Write out the references for the chapters you read today.
- Write out the verse or verses that particularly spoke to you today (optional)
- Give a title to describe the main idea that God is teaching you. (optional)
STEP 5 – Hear from God
- Now take some time to hear from God. What is God saying to you about this verse or verses? Write out what you believe the Lord is saying to you. God wants to teach you from His written love letter to you. There is no rush. Take your time. God will bring thoughts and ideas to you. You may have a picture come to your mind, a memory, a vision, a song, a dream or some other way that the Lord speaks to you about this passage from the Bible.
- Write out what God says to you in your journal as if it was God saying it. If you don’t write out what God is saying to you then those thoughts and ideas will slip away and get lost. We need to write out the words that the Lord God gives us: the visions, dreams, prophetic words and insights from the Holy Spirit. If you are using your own journal it’s important to start this section with the following sentence; “My child whom I love, today I want to tell you….”. You would be surprised how impactful those words can be over time.
STEP 6 – Apply what you hear
- This next step is critical. To have any lasting value we must now apply what God has shown us to our individual life. What are we going to do, how are we going to be different because of what God has said to us through His written and His spoken Word? Write out how you are going to apply what God has said to your life today. Be specific and write out what you are going to do differently because of what you have read today.
STEP 7 – Pray and ask God to help you
- Write out a prayer to God. Write out what you want to say to Him in response to what He just said to you through His word.
STEP 8 – Thank God (Exault Him)
- We are called to be people of praise, thanking God in all situations for all things. Write who and/or what you are thankful for today.
It will feel a little clumsy and awkward at first but the more you do it the easier and more natural it will be. There is nothing magical about SHAPE journaling. It’s just an outline to help you learn to engage with God’s word….but there is something supernatural about God’s word. You can and should expect God to meet you when you take time to be with Him.
For those of us who are performance or task-oriented, be careful not to turn your time with the Lord into a chore or a duty. Remember it’s a conversation with God. You are going to miss some days. It happens. Don’t let that stop the conversation. God is not mad at you because you miss a day and didn’t check that box off your list. He just wants to meet with you as often as you want to meet with Him.