Now, more than ever, journaling is vital to our spiritual wellbeing.  But, why? Journaling as we pray and read the Bible provides focus and can open up a conversation with God that might not happen if we never put pen to paper. 

Because we spend our lives seeking to circumvent pain, we might avoid journaling as it is often discomforting and sensitive. Distractions, entertainment, and propaganda become more effortless to our minds than being still and knowing God (Psalm 46:10). So, is the fight-to-focus worth it? 

Deep within our souls, we know that encountering and mastering difficulties is the only pathway to growth. God designed both our muscles and our hearts to grow strong only by operating with resistance. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” From the divine perspective, our situational difficulty may be our spiritual necessity. 

Journaling is a personal trainer to reveal our inner thoughts and invite God to begin His transformative work within us. Regular journaling helps us to slow down, so we can taste “to see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), enlarging our muscle of faith over time. Processing our struggles through paper and pen propels us forward in finding meaning and satisfaction for our conflicts. Author Jenny Knipfer testifies, “I find the act of writing my thoughts out both frightening and healing. I am appalled at what is shackled in the depths of my heart, but I sense a release when it transfers from this inner depth of me to the page beneath my pen.” 

Over the years, my journals have captured tears, joys, surprises and questions. I’ve written snatches, which included memories, memorable quotes and verses I hoped to memorize. Authentic journaling takes time, evolving as life unfolds.  What suits you today may prove either inadequate or superabundant in two months. 

Journaling has no perfect form because we aren’t perfect people.

Allow your observations to reflect who you are in your season of life, whether messy or magnificent. Some of my best entries were my worst days. Now, when rereading these entries, I can see that although He seemed to be a “far-away-God” at the time, He was carrying me through those dark days.

Below are a few things that I’ve learned to be helpful as I journal through my prayers.  

Look to God’s Word for Guidance

Urge your entries toward the spiritual by regularly including Scripture portions. If you have not already done so, download the YouVersion app onto your device. Use the search window to find verses by topic or choose one of their selections found under “What does the Bible say about….” 

Be Intentional and Prepared

When you are ready to begin journaling, decide upon a quiet location, and block off a predetermined amount of time. Even if you only budget fifteen minutes a day, it is better to set a reasonable, sustainable goal than one bound to fail. You will need your Bible or Bible app, journal and pen. If mark-throughs bother you, a pencil with an eraser might prove more suitable. When should you start? Today is as good a day as any to start.

Ask God to Speak

Open each journaling session with a brief prayer, asking God to speak through His Word and bring to mind the thoughts valuable to your growth. Then, turn to one of the topics in your app, and slowly read several verses. I must often open the “more” tab to find a Scripture that speaks directly to my heart. Pause a moment after you read, then use a few of the following journal prompts to begin writing: 

  • What are some of the challenges you are facing in life?
  • Which verse seems best to relate to this situation? 
  • How are you experiencing God amid these challenges?
  • What do you dislike about this situation?
  • What do you dislike about yourself in this situation?
  • What is confusing or upsetting you?
  • What scares you most about this situation?
  • When have you felt like this in the past?
  • What kind of assumptions about God might be leading you to that conclusion?
  • Where do you need help?
  • What do you sense God wants you to do?
  • What questions do you have for God?

Commit to journaling using this method for at least two weeks, then reevaluate and make modifications better suited to your style. And, as you encounter God in the pages of your journal, know that I’m praying for you.