While there are many different ways to read and study the Bible, one way we've discovered that works for lots of people is the SOAP method. Journaling is an excellent way to process and record what we say to and hear from God. It's also great when you can go back and reflect on how God has worked in your life as you have studied the Bible and prayed.
SOAP is an acronym.
S stands for Scripture. You can find Bible reading plans online, or you can just start at the beginning and keep going until you get to the end - whatever works for you. You will read a chunk of text (perhaps a chapter or more), and reflect on it. Write down the name of the book, chapter number, and verses that you read, then write out one or two verses from your reading that stand out to you in some way.
O stands for Observation. Ask God to show you what he is saying to you in this scripture. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. Rewrite the scripture, in your own words, in your journal. Write down what you feel God saying to you in this/these verse(s).
A stands for Application. Personalize what you have read. How does what you have read and heard apply to your life right now? Does it have relevance to your family life? Your work life? Your personal relationships? Your finances? God may be instructing you, encouraging you, revealing truth to you, or correcting you. Write down how what you've read applies to your life. How will you be different today because of what you have read?
P is for Prayer. Say a prayer about what you've read. You may say, "Lord, help me use what I have learned in my life today. Thank you for teaching me," or "God, please show me more about what you want me to do today. Thank you for being with me." Write down your prayer.
If this seems overwhelming, just keep it simple and take it slowly. Make a daily appointment to do your Scripture reading and SOAP journaling. This doesn't have to take up massive amounts of time - in fact, we recommend using no more than ONE page in your journal for each SOAP entry.