BENEFITS OF JOURNALING
Thus speaks the Lord God of Israel, saying: ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you (Jeremiah 30:2).
Everything we need to know for living a healthy, happy, submitted life to Christ can be found in the Bible. The Bible is the written Word of God, sort of like a love letter from God to you and me. It is a love letter that we can read over and over again to build our faith (Romans 10:17), to reassure us of God’s love (I John 2:5) and to reinforce that God’s Word is true (John 17:17, Psalm 33:4).
However, God’s love letter to us is not meant to be a one-sided form of communication. We have the privilege to commune with God through prayer and through writing Him our very own love letter.
Research speaks to the benefits of the writing process. The act of writing adds clarity to what you’re thinking, helps you clear your mind, gets all the thoughts out so that you can begin to make sense of everything. It allows you to see your conscious and unconscious thoughts in a visual, tangible way, like putting your brain on paper. As you make connections in writing, your brain mirrors this process and helps you begin to solidify the patterns in your mind. Writing helps you remember and gives you the opportunity to look at the memories from a distance and give them some perspective. Writing also helps you collect and keep and ideas. We think over 5,000 thoughts a day, so we’re bound to forget them. By writing them down, we can preserve them. Writing also helps you improve your speaking and writing skills. You begin to expand your vocabulary, write and speak more clearly and concisely (Switch on Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf and https://www.skillsyouneed.com/rhubarb/writing-benefits.html)
The Bible also speaks to the benefits of writing as well. Some of the benefits of communing with God via journaling are:
- Gives you a way to release your hurt and pain or anything hindering you from a closer connection with Christ (I Peter 5:7).
- Is a way to share your hopes and dreams with God in a meaningful way (Habakkuk 2:2).
- Helps you document and “memorialize” answered prayer requests (Psalm 118:21).
- Helps build your faith as you can look back and see how God has been with you in the past, giving you greater confidence that He is with you now and will be with you in the future (Mark 9:24, Malachi 3:6, 2 Corinthians 1:10, Mark 11:22-24).
- Helps you be more accountable to God and helps fortify your growth (Romans 14:12).
- Is another form of prayer, thus increasing your connection with Christ (I Thessalonians 5:17).
And just as God used a ragtag group of authors to write and share His Biblical message, He can use each of us to share His message through our stories too. God encourages us to write and to share our stories:
Jeremiah 30:2 – Thus speaks the Lord God of Israel, saying: ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you.’
Revelation 21:5 – Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
Psalm 45:1 – My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
So take the first step and begin journaling. Begin the writing process and write your love letter to God. Begin journaling.
For many of you, journaling may seem daunting, but really, there’s no one way or one right way to communicate with God via your prayer journal. But in case you want a few suggestions to get you started or to change up your writing routine, here are a few recommendations:
- Prayer-focused: This style of journaling can be your written prayers to God. Your prayers should include praise of who He is; confession of your sins and a request for forgiveness; requests on behalf of others as well as for yourself; thanksgiving for all that He’s done; as well as praise and thank Him for what He is going to do in the future.
- Topic-focused: Focusing on a particular topic gives your journaling experience a little structure. Choose a topic and begin writing your thoughts about the topic. Then begin to search the Bible for texts related to the topic. Write lessons that you’ve learned about the topic, questions that arise about the topic, and your experience living as God instructed concerning the topic.
- Scripture-focused: Select a scripture or a chapter from the Bible and delve deeply into the passage. Analyze the passage by writing down your thoughts about the passage. Record how God is speaking to you about the passage. Additionally, record major points gleaned, reflections of significant characters and an analysis of keywords. Chronicle how lessons learned from the particular passage can apply to your life and document how you might change as a result of the passage.
- Feeling-focused: This style of journaling can be equated to writing in a diary; simply pour out your heart to God. Write whatever you’re thinking, feeling or experiencing. Don’t think, just write. Write to God as if you’re talking to your best friend. Wait, you are, so just go for it. You should still record God’s responses to you and note all answers to your prayer requests.
Next, create an environment conducive to communing with God. Some ideas include:
- Designate a special place where you will journal. This could be a special room in your home, a quiet seat in a park or garden, or the creation of a prayer basket that includes your Bible, your journal, a pen, your iPod, a devotional book, etc.
- Prepare your environment so that you feel relaxed and peaceful. You may want to light scented candles, play your favorite Christian songs, or sip a nice, warm cup of soothing tea.
- Make a date! Block out a time daily dedicated to your time with Christ. Put it on your calendar and protect it. You may not be an early bird, but I find that starting my day with Christ makes my day go so much better. Try getting up a half-hour earlier to begin your day with Him.
- Start small with a plan to grow. You may feel that you can only spend 10 minutes a day journaling. And that’s okay. But plan to grow. And actually, as you spend time and get to know your Savior better, you’ll be amazed by how time will fly. And watch out; you may even become more productive during your day because you started the day with Christ and committed your schedule to Him!
- Develop a method for reviewing previous prayer requests and documenting
- Answered prayers. I use a highlighter, and highlight prayers once answered. I document the date it was answered and write a short “thank you” for the answer.
According to Lao-Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So begin first with the commitment to journal and share your commitment with God. Ask Him to reveal to you the best approach for you, ask Him to give you the time you need, and ask Him to give you new insights, revelations and answers to your prayers!