Journaling used to intimidate me because I thought my journal would have to be a literary work of art to really count, and I wasn’t Teresa of Avila, so how could I keep a journal? Or I thought I’d have to sit down for half an hour and write my heart out every day, but who had time and energy for that?
Then I also remembered a high school teacher who made us write two entries a week in a notebook we had to turn in on Fridays. I dreaded it because what could I write anyway since the teacher was going to read it?
Always a late bloomer, I didn’t start journaling until my 40’s.
I’m so glad I started, because after Bible reading and prayer, keeping a journal has helped me grow more than any other spiritual discipline. Journaling doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming; even a few minutes each day can make a big difference in your life.
Journaling helps me:
Clarify My Thoughts and Feelings
Sometimes I don’t quite know what I’m thinking until I write it down. My journal helps me understand my own thoughts and reactions to what’s going on around me. For example, it helps me pinpoint exactly what is worrying me when I feel anxious, and something about jotting down a specific fear or feeling helps me surrender it to God.
Stay Engaged with God during my Quiet Time
My short attention span causes me to wander off on bunny trails while trying to pray or read the Bible. Copying a scripture or writing a brief prayer helps me stay focused.
Record my Spiritual Journey
This isn’t as mystical as it sounds. I mainly record verses that stand out from my daily Scripture reading. Sometimes I record my impressions of events, or quotes from books and articles I like. About once a week, I glance back at what I wrote on previous days, and it always encourages me.
How to Keep Journaling Simple and Enjoyable:
Some people keep a daily log of events and thoughts, but this is too overwhelming (and boring) for me. Instead, my journal is a hodgepodge of ideas, prayers, lists, and scribblings. I use colored pencils and pens to make it more fun. Sometimes I doodle, draw, or cut pictures and quotes out of church bulletins or conference manuals to tape into my journal. Recently I started experimenting with unlined paper because it has a more creative feel.
I try to keep it simple and spend five or ten minutes writing down a few things during my quiet time. And on days when I skip it, I don’t sweat it.
Ideas for Journaling:
Illustrated Scripture Verses:
Even if you have two left hands like I do when it comes to drawing, it’s still fun to add flowers, hearts, boxes, or swirls to a scripture verse.
Make a bullet list of things you’re praying for. Looking back at it later and remembering God’s answers will build your faith.
For days when you have about fifteen minutes, follow this link to learn more about a fun, creative way to unlock more meaning from a favorite Bible verse.
After asking God to examine your heart, make a list in red ink of 3-5 sins that come to mind, like “irritation,” “selfishness,” or “criticism.” Personally, it does my soul good to see my sin on paper and ask God to cleanse me as I start the day.
Try writing a one sentence prayer in response to your Bible reading.
1000 Gifts List:
Jot down five things you’re thankful for. This simple discipline can help us be more joyful people, and it gives us a log of our life’s happiest happenings.
Questions you have for God:
It’s faith-stretching to write a question for God and pay attention to what He may speak in response, whether His answer comes in that moment or weeks later.
Of course, I don’t include all these elements in my journal each day. Instead I choose one or two. And rather than worry about making my journal a beautiful work of art, I focus on enjoying the process.
What about you, friend? Do you keep a journal or wish you did?
If the thought of journaling intimidates you, how about trying it for a week? Make a small commitment you can keep, like five minutes in the morning, or at bedtime. You might be surprised at how much it helps you grow.