The Spiritual Practice of Journaling
Have you noticed that “journey” and “journaling” come from the same root word?
Many travelers on the journey have found that another way to open themselves to God is to journal, and we encourage you to try this simple spiritual practice and see if it is helpful to you. You do not have to be a gifted writer, and you don’t even have to use good grammar and spelling! (For that matter, you don’t even have to write words in your journal- some find that drawing pictures and images is how they connect with God in a deep way).
Yes, your journaling will be unique to you, and so it should be. For Creator God made you one-of-a-kind, and desires for you to express your heart in your own beautiful way.
We encourage you to think of journaling as a prayer practice, a way of speaking to God and also of listening for the voice of God. As you journal your story, and the journey of your heart in the midst of that story, be listening for what God is saying to you through your circumstances, thoughts, feelings, joys and struggles. It is a powerful thing to move from “reacting” about my life (which ties me to my own limited perspective)… to “reflecting” on my life (which opens me up to receive God’s perspective). Journaling is a very helpful tool in this process.
Whether you use a leather-bound book, a 49-cent notebook, or your computer… here are some ideas that you might want to experiment with as you discover your way of connecting with God through the spiritual practice of journaling:
1. Lectio Divina: Check out this simple prayer practice, and use your journal to reflect on and respond to what God is saying to you through the passage on which you are meditating. We have been profoundly affected by encountering the Living God through the Living Word of the Scriptures! Journaling gives us a way of remembering these experiences, and being drawn closer to God’s heart in the remembering.
2. Gratefulness: At the end of each day, reflect on the past 24 hours. Where was God? How was God’s love and care there for you? What was God teaching you today? As you write, let your heart be filled with gratefulness- you are known and loved, precious beyond words to the One who created you!
3. Conversations with God: Express your heart to God in all honesty. Tell of your joys and struggles, your hopes and fears. Humbly ask for the things you need. Then sit quietly and listen… record what comes to you, especially words of love, comfort and encouragement.
4. Silence and solitude: Take some time away to be alone with God and record these retreat experiences in your journal. You’ll have more time for reflection and writing, and may want to have a separate journal that is just for these special times- it becomes something special to go back to and remember. It is especially helpful to be alone in nature, as God speaks so clearly and powerfully to us through Creation.
5. Psalms: If you read through what is contained in the Book of Psalms, you soon realize that these are poems and songs written to express the many things that are found in the human heart. Writing your own Psalm can be a tool that unlocks what is bound up there in your heart- you can follow the pattern of one of the Psalms in the Bible, or create your own pattern.
The key to the spiritual practice of journaling is to express to God what is true about you right now. Listen to these words from Psalm 51 (The Message), and know that God welcomes you in whatever condition you find yourself- joyful or sorrowful, confident or a mess! You are loved.
Going through the motions doesn’t please You, a flawless performance is nothing to You. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. God, make a fresh start in me…