As a child, I loved my diary. I used it to record the days events, 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 in my spiritual growth, contributing to emotional healing and drawing me to God in prayer.
Whether or not you are a “natural” journal-er, it is never too late to become one. There are spiritual benefits that come from this discipline 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 look back on what I have written months or even years later, seeing how far the Lord has brought me and taught me along the way.
- Prayer Requests: Like you, there are dear ones around me who need prayer. Often times my busy brain forgets, so I keep a list in my journal of those that I am praying for and update it regularly. I keep tabs on how God is answering these requests and document updates next to the names of those I am praying for.
- Quotes and Scripture: I write quotes and scripture that speak to me – meaningful passages I don’t want to forget or want to re-read in the near future. Oftentimes, they are words that pertain to a particular trying time that I am experiencing. God uses these words to bring encouragement. Many times I record something funny or meaningful to share with a friend whom 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. I believe it keeps me focused on the sermon as my mind is prone to wandering (often making lists in my brain 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 wanders often during my time with God in the mornings. So, as I am drifting off to parts unknown – again, usually thinking about all that I need to do – I write the floating thought down in my journal and get back to prayer. Later, I transfer those floating thoughts to my to-do list for the day.
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: Dear God…