Journaling: A Way of Watching God at Work

Does the idea of journaling sound sweet or just give you sweaty palms?

SCROLL DOWN & ADD YOUR COMMENT AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST BY CLICKING ON comments below!

Open my eyes
so I can see what you show me
of your miracle-wonders.
Psalm 119:18 The Message

Journaling is a way of;

  • paying attention to our lives,
  • reflecting on God's presence and guidance, and
  • creating an ongoing record of our soul's journey into God.
How To:
"There is no right way to journal. You don't need to journal every day or even every week. Find a rhythm of journaling that suits your phase and stage of life. If writing isn't your thing, make a journal of photos or drawings or articles. Assign key words or thoughts or themes to the entries. If you don't write well, remember that you don't need to write beautifully or use complete sentences. Journaling is a way for you to be with God and your thoughts, not an exercise in language arts. Tell the truth to God and to yourself as best you can. Review what you write on a regular basis. As you do, you will begin to recognize life themes, desires, frustration and patterns of interaction. These insights become matters for dialogue with God." Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

An Example
I am embarrassed to tell you that a few days ago I wanted to journal and I couldn't find my current journal. I searched a few of my favorite places and came up empty handed. I walked away sad and couldn't bear the idea of starting a new journal because I wanted to pick up where I had left off. I've learned over the years that one of the places where God and I do the best work on changing me is when I spend time journaling. Sometimes I start writing as a continuation of some scripture I've been reading or studying. Sometimes I just need to write down what I've been thinking so I don't forget. Regardless of where I begin and my reasons for journaling, I always find God moving and realigning the pieces of my heart and soul.

Making It Your Own
There are so many ways to journal. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Read magazines, newspapers, articles, or books -- cut out or record anything that touches you. Paste clippings in your journal. Use them to prompt your prayers.
  2. Read a selected passage of scripture and keep a record of your observations. This is not a Bible study but rather a means to connect to God. (you could use the acronym SOAP -- Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer)
  3. If you enjoy art, create a collage journal by expressing your thoughts and feelings to God through pictures, textures, and colors.
  4. Keep a prayer journal by recording your prayers and thoughts.
  5. Keep a gratitude journal by recording daily a list.
  6. Divide your journal into sections. You might consider: your journey with God, events of the day/week, prayers for the world, prayers for those you love, desires of your heart.
  7. Just write and/or record what is going on in your life and heart. Please record your unedited thoughts, feelings, and reactions -- and be willing to wait on God to respond to your heart.
  8. Just start writing something, somewhere.

ideas adapted from Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

7 comments:

  1. I love journaling. Starting about 25 yrs ago, early in the morning for about 2-3hrs has been my routine. I start with devotions, word studies, or Bible verse study
    and write my questions and thoughts. I also list my prayer concerns for loved ones, friends, our country's leaders, and concerns for other countries. I mark my prayer requests and special thoughts I want to come back to. Through the years, I can see my spiritual growth, change of view , answered prayers and prayers still on the list.
    I often use a visual picture to start my conversation with God--
    We meet in a beautiful garden on a bench--
    I am familiar with the Spiritual Disciplines and find them very useful in daily life to stay on God's path.
    I just use a 5 subject notebook and when one is filled, I start another.
    This discipline of journaling have added a whole new dimension to my life.
    Jeanie

    ReplyDelete
  2. My journaling comes and goes. I do love to write my thoughts, and I am a note-taker during our church services.

    I have recently begun to journal on my computer. I created a Word document, and made sure I put "Journal-Private" as the title. It's a quick way to get my thoughts down, and sometimes, I cut/paste my musings, and share them with friends via e-mail.

    Writing forces you to organize your thoughts a little more than when you just "think" about things.
    It also allows you to process, and as Jeanie said in her blog, you can look back and see spiritual growth, or recall something you may, ordinarily, have forgotten about forever.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I started journaling in college, as a way to get out all of my thoughts and feelings, even when I didn't have a close friend to talk to. Its been sometimes frequent over the years and sometimes less frequent. In recent years, journaling has saved my husband from hours of conversation:). When something is really bothering me - in a good or a bad way - I can go back and read and see patterns in what God was showing me. If I ever ask myself, "what was I thinking?!!" I just go back to the journal, and God shows me right where I got off-track - or right where I started to realize what He wanted me to do.
    For me, journaling helps me process scripture and what it means to me personally, but it is also a way of remembering - keeping the lessons that I am learning every day.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Both gkcteacher and Kara mentioned a very important asset to journaling---" you can go back and read something you THOUGHT you would remember. When we get these special thoughts, it is important to write them down because we will seldom remember the thought and all that was around it.
    I smiled at Kara's comment of saving her husband from hours of conversation. God is a great listener. However, conversation is two sided and we must develop our senses to what He is saying to us.
    This can be very exciting. Another visual is to be riding a tandem bicycle with God in the front seat.
    I am not sure where He is taking me but I have all my senses on alert to experience all that is going on and try to figure it out.
    When I first started to journal, I used a design of praise and thankgiving. It has become part of me to ride down a road and notice a small stream flowing over the rocks, or notice the long awaited first leaf of spring or experience the brillance of an electrical storm and say to say to the Lord just as if He were sitting beside me-" Lord I loved that--thank you so much."
    Writing your words (thanksgiving, praise etc) as well as saying them reinforces your memory process and is another reason for journaling.
    Jeanie

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well said, ladies.
    May I add this comment. I have a prayer journal from years ago. Over the course of 10 years (1976-1986) I have over 1,000 answers to prayer recorded. (I quit counting at 1,000)
    I just pulled it out to look at the dates for this blog. I am amazed, and awed, once again, by God's faithfulness. And this is just a small representation of all the prayers I've prayed.
    As I have often told Elem. age students that I have taught over the years. God answers prayer! He doesn't always say yes. Sometimes He says "no", and sometimes "wait"...but He does answer.
    This little blue prayer journal from 20 years ago, is a great reminder of looking back and seeing what's happened, and a joy for looking ahead!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have started I don't know how many journals,made a couple entries, and never wrote in them again. But in recent months I have a new appreciation for the whole process. So much that as I was sitting and waiting for my husband recently, I just needed to write something down. I am not one to carry my journal at all times, but I had to write my thoughts. So currently, in my purse, on the back of my Kroger grocery receipt, is my most recent entry. I guess just about anything will work in a pinch.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great idea to put the journaling outline in print. I don't think I have ever seen it in quite this way. Thanks so much for putting options in print. I am new to journaling - so thanks very much.

    ReplyDelete