As I walked around Barnes and Noble, picking out my 2024 journals, I noticed vacant spaces on the shelves and a small selection. It seems the New Year is a popular time to begin a journaling practice.
I love to journal, and my journaling practice has come up quite a bit lately in conversation. So, I thought it would be the right time to add to and repost a past blog called “Dear God…” from 2015. Since I wrote this piece, my journals have become even more dear to me and have served as therapeutic tools as I have navigated the trials, traumas, and joys of these almost eight years.
As a child, I loved my diary. I used it to record the day’s events (which I still do), my secret crushes, happy times with friends, and girlhood sorrows. There were times I propped it next to my mom’s bed so she could see on paper the struggles of my heart, emotions I found too difficult to express verbally. These diaries are like written pictures, and I am grateful for the insight into who I was once upon a time.
In my adult life, journaling has been a beautiful vehicle – aiding my spiritual growth, contributing to emotional healing, and drawing me to God in prayer.
Whether or not you are a “natural journaler,” it is never too late to become one. This discipline has spiritual benefits, and I’d like to share some with you.
- Therapy: Writing (or typing) our private prayers to God is therapeutic. I find release as I let my pen give voice to the cries of my heart. Praise-therapy is what I call replacing negative thoughts with words of praise. Writing my praises to God brings this therapeutic benefit to the next level. I often reflect on what I have written months or even years later, seeing how far the Lord has brought me and taught me.
- Prayer Requests: Like you, dear ones around me need prayer. My busy brain often forgets, so I keep a list in my journal of those I am praying for and update it regularly. I keep tabs on how God answers these requests and document updates next to the names of those I pray for.
- Quotes and Scripture: I write quotes and Scripture that speak to me – meaningful passages I want to remember and re-read. Often, they are words that pertain to a particular trying time I am experiencing. God uses these words to bring encouragement. I sometimes record something funny or meaningful to share with a friend I am praying for.
- Sermon Notes: I am a sermon note-taker. Instead of taking notes on a bulletin to lose, I slip my journal into my purse. During the week, I review the sermon and key scriptures. It keeps me focused on the sermon as my mind is prone to wandering (often making lists of all that needs to get done that day).
- Focus: My journal is a means of keeping me focused on Bible reading or prayer. My silly mind often wanders during my time with God in the mornings. So, as I drift off to parts unknown – again, usually thinking about all that I need to do – I write the floating thoughts down in my journal and get back to prayer. Later, I transfer those floating thoughts to my to-do list for the day.
- Prompts: There are insightful prompts that can aid us if we aren’t sure what to write about or what we are feeling. Google “journal prompts” to get some inspiration.
- Diary: Like when I was a girl, I still record the day’s activities and significant moments. I enjoy looking back and getting a glimpse at life in the past. It solidifies memories or reminds me of something I had forgotten—a way to see God’s handwriting in my story.
- Gratitude: This is the one thing I never miss. I list a few lines of what and who I’m grateful for. I have not skipped a day in years; it has transformed my life!
My journal is a practical and engaging aid in growing me in God. Even if you think it isn’t your thing, I challenge you to pick one up and give it a shot. Just start with the words:
Original posted on April 30, 2015