For most of us, journaling is like dieting. We get super motivated and start strong. And then something happens, things change, and we stop. Until we start again – only to repeat the whole cycle. Been there, done that.
But I’m happy to say that I’ve been journaling regularly now for the past 17 years – and I love it! (I’m not saying there haven’t been missed days.) So it’s possible!
A big part of my stick-to-it-ness this time has to do with the overwhelming positives that I reap from making journaling a regular part of my time with God. And since I know so many people who struggle to do it (or even understand why they might want to), I thought I’d share the seven reasons I won’t stop journaling this time.
1) Journaling helps me focus.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
I don’t have ADD. I just happen to live in the same hyper-stimulated world that you do. It’s harder than ever to sit still, silence the distractions, and focus on reading my Bible and talking to God. (Or is it just me?) I find that putting pen to paper helps me keep my focus where it needs to be. The physical act of writing keeps me engaged. And actually, I can say it not only helps me focus, it teaches me to focus – a discipline that affects the rest of my spiritual life.
(Note: my husband has journaled on his computer for years, and likes that. I personally like to get away from this contraption. So whatever works best for you.)
2) Journaling helps me stay.
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).
I also find that journaling encourages me to make more of my “quiet time” than just taking the token 10 minutes. Writing, by its very nature, slows me down and encourages me to not cheat the process. To not cheat myself of that time with my Savior and to not cheat Him of my attention and affection.
3) Journaling helps me dig deeper.
“Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps.119:18).
When I journal, I dig far deeper than when I just read sans journaling. Here’s my personal process: First, I write out the verse(s) that God brings to my attention, often cross-referencing. I then write out any application He shows me – paying close attention to each word in the verse – followed by my prayer to God surrounding those applications. I conclude with writing out my worship to God for those things He’s just revealed of Himself to me. It’s much more fulfilling and life-changing when I take the time to write out all God is showing me – because I dig deeper.
(Note: sometimes this is only a single page and other times I get on a roll and don’t stop for many pages. No rules besides being sensitive to His leading – as you can see by what took over this journal entry.)
4) Journaling helps me listen.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
Besides leaning into what God might be showing me out of His word, a while back I started writing out my times of just listening to God. And this has definitely been one of the most powerful impacts of my journaling.
After I’ve written all I just previously told you, sometimes I write, “Listen”, and quietly wait for anything I might hear God whisper to me. Sometimes it’s just words of love. He often encourages me to keep coming, keep being still, and keep trusting in His plan and purpose. And sometimes He reminds me of the depths of His faithfulness, His ability to work, or His power in, through, and around me. He almost always reminds me to keep my focus on Him. “Right here is where you find all you need.” (And I always need to hear that.) I can’t tell you how many times I go back to read the “listening” parts of my journal for encouragement – and often tears.
5) Journaling helps me remember.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?” (Psalm 77:11-13).
This is huge. (Ok, it’s all huge.) The Bible tells us repeatedly to remember. Remember! But it’s hard to remember things that we haven’t recorded. (Or again, is that just me?) I wrote a book because I journaled – probably only because I journaled. As God kept showing me more and more in His word about worship (and I kept vigorously writing it down), I gradually began to realize that others might want to hear what I was learning. If I hadn’t journaled, that probably wouldn’t have happened. (Not kidding – there are word for word portions in my book that are straight out of my journal.)
Plus I’ve placed bookmarks in old journals where there are things I want to remember – compelling things from His word, prayers He answered, or ways He encouraged me. Being able to go back and remember what He’s done is powerful.
6) Journaling helps me worship.
“Be still, and know that I am God. [RESULTS->] I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).
“O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; [RESULTS->] Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places” (Psalm 43:3).
I mentioned this briefly in reason #3, but it’s definitely worth it’s own point. (And this is a worship blog, after all.) When I take the time to write out what God is showing me about Himself from His word, it lights a fire under my desire to worship Him. Besides that, making worship part of my regular journaling process helps take a humble responsibility and turn it into a passionate habit of my soul. I don’t always write out every single word of my worship time. I enjoy letting go of earthly ties as much as possible and surrendering to His presence. But it most often starts with what God has just revealed of Himself through His word – that’s made it’s way through the pen onto my page.
7) Journaling helps me pursue God.
“They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light” (Psalm 36:8-9).
The first 6 points all add up to this final one that was obviously woven throughout – pursuing God. As you can see, my journal is a lot more than a diary of life events. (Though I sometimes include prayer requests or jot down memorable things next to the date.) It’s pages are overflowing with how God opens His Word to me and accomplishes His deep workings in my soul. And the act of writing it makes it much more likely to stick. I don’t journal out of a sense of obligation at all, but it’s something I do to enrich my ever-tested, always-growing relationship with God. The benefits have been so palpable, I wouldn’t want to do this Christian life without it again.
Like all good things the enemy hates, it’s a battle at times. But most days? I honestly can’t wait to open it back up next to my Bible to see what God has for me. I truly regret all the years I missed out!
Hopefully this has encouraged you to reconsider journaling if you don’t or inspired you to keep at it if you do. Incredible rewards are to be had as you pursue Him diligently!
“Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘The Lord be magnified!” (Psalm 40:16).
What have been the benefits or struggles you’ve experienced with journaling? Is there anything special you do while journaling that keeps you inspired or you just really enjoy?
Or if you have any questions, feel free to ask!
Why God Wants Us to be Intentional About Remembering
What We Miss When We Don’t “Stop”
How vital is the Bible to my worship life really?
The Need for Tunnel Vision in Our Worship
Am I overwhelmed by the right thing?
Do I have a growing appetite to worship God?
Struggle to worship? You may be thirsty!
Because we’re all hands-and-knees desperate
Getting honest about waiting
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