Have you ever been digging through old keepsakes and come across a journal you started when you were little? I particularly enjoy those from when I was 7 or 8, where I talk about the deep struggles of broken friendships over the way someone acted during a make-believe game. Life was so rough back then.
Then, I’ll occasionally find the hormone-driven pages from middle and high school, where my life has ended over a boy. The eye rolling continues.
While I have grown up a bit since then (one can hope), I still have the desire to keep a journal. But not the dramatic “dear diary” sort, though I think there is significant merit to taking the time to write down the events of your life in a less theatrical fashion; I’m speaking specifically to that of a spiritual journal.
My definition of a spiritual journal is a place where I record scriptures, other Christian authors’ thoughts that I love, my own thoughts based upon scripture reading, and prayers. It’s a place to intentionally meditate and think about the things of God in a way that allows me to go back and recall them at a later time.
I’ll describe what I do with my spiritual journal on a regular basis below. However, please know that I do not do all of these things every single day. Some days, my journaling looks like just a 5-minute jot down of thoughts from my scripture reading. On others, it’s a 3-page outpouring of the prayers and struggles of my heart. I strive to write at least 5 days a week, even if it’s just a very short paragraph.
Here are the items that I regularly document in my journal:
I write down any particularly pungent scriptures that I come across during my morning devotions.
As I read scripture in the morning, I always write down any that I find stick out to me in particular. It can be simply something I’ve never noticed before when reading, or it could be a word that particularly relates to a current situation. Either way, I write it down. This helps me commit it to memory, and allows for me to quickly reference it later in the week.
I record any striking passages from my devotional reading.
Along with scripture reading each morning, I also regularly participate in the She Reads Truth studies. I will often write down any words by the author that I haven’t considered before in reference to the assigned passages, or any words that I want to remember and think more deeply about.
I jot down any of my own thoughts concerning the scripture passages or devotional writings.
If I had a particular reason for marking these scriptures or writings related to this season of life, I like to record that. It helps to remind me how the Lord is working in this season of my life. Also, when I do this, it seems to help me recall these things more easily later in the day and week.
I record current prayer requests and praises that I plan to offer up that day.
This is one of the most encouraging aspects of my spiritual journal. Not only does it allow me to stay focused as I go to the Lord in prayer, but it allows me to recall answered prayer in the future. Every few months, I will read back through my journal for the specific intent of looking at past prayers. By doing this, I am reminded of all the ways in which the Lord has answered my prayers over time. This greatly increases my gratitude, and encourages me to press on and continue in prayer for the future. God truly is faithful to answer our prayers!
I will occasionally do the exercise of “morning pages” or a “brain dump.”
In recent years, the concept of “morning pages” has become increasingly popular amongst productivity gurus. In order to do this practice, you are to write for three full pages without stopping even for a moment, even if you write “I have nothing to write.” The full exercise takes about fifteen minutes if you truly do not stop. The idea behind this is that it helps to release your mind of the “clutter” and allows you to find the things you really need to do that day to be productive.
While I haven’t found the exercise of simply writing down thoughts to be particularly productive, I have found it useful to do this in the form of a prayer. My goal when I do my morning pages is to lift a continuous flow of my fears, desires, and gratefulness to be lifted up to God over the course of 15 minutes. In my case, it helps me see ways in which I’ve allowed sin to take over by living in fear or worry. It clears up my mind to repent of those sins and focus more on the goodness and sovereignty of God.
While this is not something I have the time to do daily, I do try to do it once or twice per week. It’s especially useful when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
I encourage you strongly to keep a spiritual journal. It has really helped me grow in my walk with Christ by committing the beauty of scripture, truth, and answered prayers to memory. These are the types of entries that work for me; take time for trial and error, find what works for you, and commit to it. I believe you will find it to be as encouraging as I have!