I’ve taken up journaling in recent years. From my teenage years on, I’ve been taught that journaling was an important and valuable spiritual discipline, but it just was not one I ever embraced. I think there were several reasons for this:
- I did not know how to do it.
- I’m not sure I really wanted to do it.
- I have terrible handwriting. I mean really, really bad.
- I had never done anything like journaling so I was intimidated by the idea.
There are probably a few other reasons, but the above essentially gets to the heart of it.
But for whatever reason, I one day picked up a small black book with blank pages in it that I got from a NAMB conference at some point… and I started writing. Not everyday, but most days. I kept it up for a time and I just kept at it until the present.
The following is nothing revolutionary but here is what I have learned/discovered from my journaling and how I use the journal.
- I keep a prayer list in the back pages. For years, as I have interacted with people, I would often tell them those often repeated words, “I’ll be praying for you.” Easy to say. Hard to do. Unless you write it down. And so my journal is also my prayer book. Anytime I tell someone I am going to pray for them, I have gotten into the habit of writing it down. My prayer life has taken on a robust dimension since doing this. I pray for people daily and record answered prayers. It is very, very cool to see God working in this way. In print. In a journal.
- My journaling is mostly prayers to God. I have found that I talk to God in a more focused, succinct, way when I write my prayers. I am able to take my personal burdens, struggles, and victories before God in a very pointed manner through written media. No time is wasted. No fluff. Just gut –level honesty. My mind is sharper when I write.
- It’s not about my handwriting. Yes, I have bad handwriting, as I’ve noted. But it’s not really about the beauty of the script. I’m not publishing anything in this journal and it’s not for anyone else’s eyes but my own and God’s. I guess you could say that the more unintelligible my writing is, the more it is like a “private prayer language”!
- The journal is becoming a record of God’s activity in my life. Just like the prayer pages demonstrate God’s moving hand, so do the chronicled pages of my spiritual life. I’ve documented enough “history” now that it becomes it’s own spiritual experience to thumb back through entries from months past and see the movement of God in my life.
I’m not a legalist about the journal. I don’t write in it necessarily every day. But I write in it enough that it has helped me. Grown me. Shaped me. It has drawn me closer to my Maker.