The word “journaling” may conjure all sorts of emotions for you. Perhaps it makes you think of the grade you got your junior year of English class when you were forced to record a journal entry at the beginning of each class. Maybe it makes you think of the stereotypical “secret diary.” Maybe it the word journaling hasn’t even crossed your mind before in any serious manner. Whatever connotations the word “journaling” brings to your mind, what I hope to accomplish in this short post is to encourage you to be a journaler.
God’s People are Writers
The Bible is exhibit A. God’s people are writers. God used men to write His divinely breathed words. There are all sorts of ways imaginable and unimaginable that the Lord could have preserved His words for His people, but He chose writing.
In addition to the Bible, we have countless books, letters, journals, tracts, pamphlets, volumes, libraries, works, sermons, devotionals, and treatises written by Christians in the last 2,000 years. I’m sure the total combined word count would absolutely astound us. The bottom line is this: God’s people are writing people. Journaling, therefore, fits nicely within this rich tradition.
Journaling for Accountability
For me personally, journaling has provided a great accountability for daily bible reading. I don’t actually write out a thought every single day, but I do write down what I’ve read in the Bible. This helps me keep track of my reading and hold me accountable for reading every single day.
I started this practice “per chance” in 2008 when I began to want to read the Bible more intentionally and frequently. The accountability factor of not wanting to miss a day of writing down what I’ve read has helped me more than a few days to keep reading the Bible even when I’m especially busy.
Journaling God’s Faithfulness
Now that I’ve been journaling for over a decade it’s amazing to look back and see how the Lord has brought us through difficult times. It’s wonderful to see the times He has surprised us with particular blessings. It’s amazing to see His grace in my times of weakness and immaturity. Journaling has given me a tangible record to see how the Lord has never abandoned us.
Yes, we have the sufficient Scriptures to remind us of God’s faithfulness. Yet, journaling has provided me a way to see the Scriptures played out in a real persons life despite this persons continued need for growth, grace, and sometimes just a swift kick in the head.
Journaling Life Events
In addition to seeing God’s faithfulness, I have also recorded various events and thoughts about my children, wife, church life, and personal achievements or failures. Maybe my kids and grand kids will read this one day and maybe not. Either way, it has given me something that I hope I can look back on when my memory is not as fresh and be reminded of these memories. Some of them are too precious to ever forget but I’ve already realized the human mind is ultimately unreliable for precise recollections especially as the years add up.
Journaling also affords the opportunity to write out prayers. This is not an every day or even a weekly habit for me. However, it is a something I strive to do periodically whether they are short or long prayers. Writing out a prayer forces one’s thoughts to be more defined. Whereas I might be repetitive in words and phrases in my audible prayers, writing a prayer helps with clearer thinking and precision. Also, it is a reminder of the ways God has chosen to answer certain prayers. Sure, sometimes God says “no.” But no is still an answer. And when you write out a prayer and see how God has chosen to answer it, perhaps it will cause you remember His goodness and praise Him for it.
Journaling for Meditation
Periodically in my journal I’ll note a verse (or several) in my reading and write some thoughts I have about it. This is a practice I actually want to make more a regular habit in my journaling . Like prayer, when one writes out his thoughts on a verse it forces more focused thinking. It’s one thing to let a thought pass one’s mind and quite another to reign that thought in and hold it captive long enough to write it out.
Make it Your Own
This post hasn’t been so much about how you should journal as much as it has been about encouraging you to journal. You may not like any of the suggestions I’ve given above and have your own ideas about how you’d like to journal. I don’t mind that at all. Go for it. Make it your own. I’m not going to read it. You’re not going to be graded for it. As much as I hate this phrase in today’s culture, I feel okay using it for this specific post: you do you. Make journaling your own. Some people have done things like writing a pretend letter to themselves. Or perhaps you use the journal to write a daily entry to your children. Maybe you just write out a verse every day from your regular bible reading and add a thought or two. Whatever it is, in the words of the great theologian Nike, just do it.
Some Closing Pointers
Some folks enjoy typing journal entries but I would encourage you to try handwriting. Invest in a journal that’s small enough you can carry it with you when you travel. My wife got me a nice leather one for Christmas this year, but I’ve also bought plenty of $10 (or less) ones over the years.
Find a specific pen or style of pen that you like. The key to a pen is making sure it doesn’t bleed through the paper as I like to write on the front and back of pages.
Again, though, I don’t want to get too detailed here. Just start journaling. Start today. This takes just a little more effort than composing a tweet every day, but you’ll find this practice far more beneficial to your soul in the long run.