I have been keeping a daily journal for nearly 25 years. The focus of my journal has been primarily to chronicle my spiritual journey with God. When you think about it, the Bible, God’s love letter and His-story of human kind, exists today primarily because people kept journals. Where would we be if the likes of Moses, Nehemiah or Jeremiah had not kept a journal of their significant events, encounters and words from God?
Here then, from my experience and their example, are seven reasons why I think every Christ follower should keep a spiritual journal.
1. It provides a record for ready reference of the things God is saying to you personally. What more vital gift is there than a personal word from God in the form of a scripture, a dream or a word or prophecy from a third party? Like any precious gift from a loved one, a photo or important document it should be preserved for safe keeping and treasured. A record of those words is most importantly a great motivation to obedience.
2. It is motivation to commit to a regular Bible reading plan. Many struggle with establishing consistency in reading the Bible. Keeping a record of what you are reading and noting the things that are speaking to you are a great encouragement to make a commitment to a daily reading plan.
3. It will help keep you focused and persistent in your prayer life. Briefly logging key prayers and the use of prayer lists in a journal are great aids for prayer. In the front of each journal I always inscribe these words: “Faithfully noted prayer will produce faithfully devoted prayer.” And “The prayer recorded is the prayer rewarded.”
4. It will help motivate you to keep a consistent daily appointment with God. I am a morning person, so my time with the Lord is the first thing I seek to do when I wake up. Obviously there are times because of laziness or a very demanding schedule or just plain old carnality when I don’t have my time with the Lord. On the first morning after a lapse of a day or two when I pick up my journal and write the date to begin a new entry I am always pricked in my conscious. As I glance back at the last entry that I’ve made and realize I’ve missed my appointments with the Lord it brings a new resolve to make it my number one priority.
5. It provides a place of release where you can pour out your soul to the Lord and feel you’ve been heard. I’ve found that sometimes in trying to pray through my frustrations, perplexities or complaints I get caught in a kind of repetitive vortex that pulls me deeper rather than breaks me out of it. It is cathartic to put your thoughts and feelings in writing and be able to see your transaction with God in black and white. It has a way of unshackling you from the heaviness and raw emotion much like David did in many of his Psalms. In some mysterious way it seals what you’ve been trying to say and brings a peace that passes understanding.
6. Reviewing your journal entries from past months and years provides a perspective on your spiritual growth or lack thereof. When I do that I am always amazed at two things. First it is remarkable how persistent God is in trying to communicate His will and direction, and how deaf, dumb, blind and stupid I can be in recognizing it. For example, one thing God has been saying to me for several years through scriptures and impressions I’ve recorded and prophecies given me by others, is that I should begin writing more. I didn’t realize this until several months ago when I was reading through my journals for the past several years.
The other thing I noticed is the cyclical nature of some of my recurring struggles. In particular the review of my journals revealed to me a predictable pattern of discouragement that I had never seen before. That insight has empowered me with God’s grace to take preventative steps to stay free from that recurring pitfall.
7. It builds faith when you see how God has been working in your life and anwering your prayers. What a joy to also journal your praise and thanksgiving. God always brings specific answers in response to your heart’s cry recorded in specific requests.
If you keep a journal, what have you learned about its benefits?