In this week’s blog post, we are considering the habit or discipline of journaling. In past posts, we have considered Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship as it relates to both time and finances, fasting, and silence/solitude.
If you have not seen these posts yet, go ahead and click on the links to catch yourself up.
And remember that the primary motivation for these spiritual habits or disciplines is taken from Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7, where he says, exercise or discipline yourself toward godliness. This applies to us just the same today and he makes it clear that, if we wish to be godly, it will take work, discipline, and exercise. Just as an athlete, musician, or artist must exercise disciplined practice to become more proficient at their chosen field, so a disciple must exercise disciplined practice in these activities as means’ of grace to become more proficient at being godly. That is to say, as we become more disciplined in the practice of these habits, more of God’s grace is available to us which will change us.
So what about journaling? Let’s begin with an explanation.
A journal is a place (physical or digital) in which a person records information important to him or her personally for the purpose of preservation and/or consideration. As a follower of Jesus your journal is a place to document the works and ways of God in your life. Your journal can also include an account of daily events, personal relationships, a notebook of insights into Scripture and/or a list of prayer requests and answers. A journal is one of the best places for tracking your progress in the other disciplines and for holding yourself accountable to your goals.
The words ‘spiritual journal’ can sound quite exclusive – something artsy types do, not normal everyday disciples. Or they can sound quite old-fashioned and not something for twenty first-century disciples. But both of these impressions are unhelpful! A spiritual journal is an ordinary, honest record of what is going on in your life, how you feel about it, and your awareness of where God is in it all.
It needn’t be in good English; it’s not being handed in for marking! It needn’t be written in a fancy book. You can do it – and there are good reasons why you should consider it.
Why Keep a Spiritual Journal?
A spiritual journal achieves three things: it is a record, which aids reflection and thus becomes a means of responding to God’s call to deepening discipleship.
How to Keep a Spiritual Journal
You can breathe a sigh of relief: there are no rules to keeping a spiritual journal! Find a system that works for you and be willing to adapt it as you go, so that it keeps working. If it enables you to record your day, reflect on God’s involvement and respond in some way then it is working! Having said that, here are a few thoughts to help you think through your own approach.
One final thought: although the journal is a private document, it could help you develop this habit – and perhaps reflect on your journal entries – if you shared your ‘journal journey’ with a close spiritual friend. Keeping a spiritual journal in company with others allows you to learn from one another’s experience and to support one another in developing the practice.
Do you currently have a spiritual journal? If so, please share how this has helped you in your spiritual growth and relationship with God? If you don’t have a spiritual journal, we hope that you have been encouraged to start one and we would love to hear all about it!