Journaling is vital to our spiritual well-being. As technology replaces memory, any reflection initiated by God is rare. We tend to view journaling as triggering pain rather than avoiding it. Distractions, entertainment, and propaganda are more comfortable than being still and knowing God (Psalm 46:10). Is the fight to focus worth it?
Deep within our souls, we know that encountering and mastering difficulties is the only pathway to growth. God designed our muscles and hearts to grow strong only by operating with resistance. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.”
Journaling is a personal trainer to reveal our inner thoughts and invite God to begin His transformative work within us. Enlarging our muscle of faith takes time. Processing our struggles through paper and pen propels us to find meaning and satisfaction in our conflicts. Author Jenny Knipfer testifies, “I find the act of writing my thoughts out both frightening and healing. I am appalled at what is shackled in the depths of my heart, but I sense a release when it transfers from this inner depth of me to the page beneath my pen.”
Regular journaling becomes our audacious program to push away from social media meals, so we can taste “to see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Contemplative meditation of the written word, especially God’s, takes effort. From the divine perspective, our difficulty may be a necessity.
Over the years, my journals have captured tears, joys, surprises, and questions. I’ve written snatches, which included memories, memorable quotes, and verses I hoped to memorize. Authentic journaling takes time, evolving as life unfolds. What suits you today may not be adequate tomorrow.
Your journal will be as individual as you are. Your observations will reflect who you are in your season of life, whether messy or magnificent. Some of my best entries were my worst days. When rereading these entries, I see that the God I felt was neglecting me was carrying me.
Urge your entries toward the spiritual by regularly including Scripture portions. Purchase a pocket promise book to help jumpstart your insights. This simple resource matches God’s wisdom to your particular situation. Its topical segments make searching for references easier than skimming your grandmother’s King James version.
You will find several options of pocket promise books available in numerous translations. There are also a handful of apps available, but so far, I haven’t found one with the depth of verses that the booklets offer. Before you purchase, compare how many verses each booklet contains. A broader selection will serve you better in the long run.
When you are ready to begin journaling, decide upon a quiet location, and block off a pre-determined amount of time. Even if you only budget fifteen minutes a day, it is better to set a reasonable, sustainable goal than one destined to fail. The day before, prepare your site with a few Bible translations and a promise book, journal, tissues, and pen. If mark-throughs bother you, a pencil with an eraser might be more suitable.
Open each journaling session with a brief prayer, asking God to speak through His Word and bring to mind the thoughts valuable to your growth. Then, turn to one of the topics in your promise book and slowly read a segment. Pause a moment after you read, then use a few (not all) of the following journal prompts to begin writing:
- What are some of the challenges you are facing in life?
- Which verse seems best to relate to this situation?
- How are you experiencing God amid these challenges?
- What might you dislike about this situation?
- What might you dislike about yourself in this situation?
- What might you be confused or upset about?
- What scares you most about this situation?
- When have you felt like this in the past?
- What kind of assumptions about God might be leading you to that conclusion?
- Where might you need help?
- What might you sense God wants you to do?
- What questions do you have for God?
Commit to using this journaling method for at least two weeks, then reevaluate and make modifications better suited to your style. I’m praying for you.