The HEAR journaling method helps you understand and apply what you read in the Bible. HEAR stands for Highlight, Explain, Apply, and Respond. Each step is detailed below, and a sample HEAR entry is provided.
Highlight: First, get your Bible and a journal, and complete your reading for the day. As you read, highlight a passage that stands out to you. Then, write an “H” on the left side of your page, and write out the verse(s) that you highlighted.
Now, it’s time to explain the meaning of the passage. Too often, people will say something like, “Here’s what this verse means to me.” This is a dangerous approach to Scripture and should be avoided. Instead, we want to find the intended meaning of the original author, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit. To do this, we need to look at the context of the passage. Here are some questions to help you understand a verse’s context. Don’t feel like you have to write out an answer to all of these questions; just use them as a guide to help you think correctly.
- Who wrote this?
- To whom was it written and why?
- How does this passage fit with the verses before and after it? How does it fit within the Biblical storyline?
- What was the author's original intent/meaning?
It’s helpful to have a study Bible or other resource to help you answer these questions. Once you’ve thought through these questions, write an “E” on the left side of your page, and write out the meaning of the passage in a couple of sentences.
Apply: Once we know the meaning of the text, it’s time to apply the truths to our lives. Remember that God’s Word is first and foremost his way of revealing himself to us, so we should always ask what we can learn about God first. Then, in light of what we learn about God, we can ask what the text teaches us about the rest of our lives:
- What does this passage teach me about God?
- What does this passage teach me about people?
- Is there a sin to avoid, a promise to claim, an example to follow, or command to obey?
Once you’ve determined the application of the passage, put an “A” on the left side of your page, and write out your application in a couple of sentences.
Respond: Now, in light of the truths you’ve learned and applied to your life, what do you need to change or do? Put an “R” on the left side of your page, and write out a prayer to God. You might praise him for who he is, ask him to help you change, and/or write out action steps to help you become more like Christ.