Why journaling is worth the effort


Journaling is my favorite spiritual discipline.  Whenever I teach about it, I hear a lot from people who feel like they should journal but don’t and people who have tried to journal but gave up.  Journaling is the single most important thing I do in my walk with God and I’d like to try to convince you that it is worth the effort.

Journaling is really about reflection.  It is a chance to process what is going on in your life and what God is saying to you.  Let me ask you a simple question:

Would you like to hear from God?

I’m not really sure who would say “no” to that question.   Couldn’t you use a little clarity in your life?  Wouldn’t it be helpful to hear God’s voice on some things?  I know that I need it and that is exactly why I was re-energized about journaling this week.

It is fair to say that I am quite confused about what God is doing in my life right now.  I know that my mission in life is to help people grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.  The means by which I should pursue that mission is much more murky.  With a few days off, I was able to take some extra time and review my journal.  The power of a journal is experienced twice.

First, it is experienced when you write and think and process and God speaks.  There is something about putting your thoughts down on paper and going through the exercise of writing that brings things out that otherwise stay hidden.  It pulls you away from whatever chaos surrounds you and  forces your mind and spirit to work a little harder and be a little more specific.  Journaling adds another layer to the process of thinking and reflection.  Journaling gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to guide and counsel.   Journaling helps you work through the Scriptures.  Journaling helps you sort things out.  That alone is incredibly valuable, but there is another opportunity to experience the power of journaling.  It is what spoke to me this week.

Journaling creates a written record of God’s moving in your life.  Sometimes you may not perceive all that God is doing or saying in the present, but a journal gives you the opportunity to go back and see the big picture.  We just passed the half way mark of 2014.  Don’t even get me started on how quickly time vanishes.  I’ve been obsessing about that reality lately, but the six month mark is a great time to review your journal which is what I did.  I was able to be reminded of the direction that God gave me at the start of the new year.  I was encouraged by some of the goals that have been achieved.  I was convicted by the things that I have neglected.  I was amazed at a theme of God’s direction that I saw repeated throughout the year, but only now put together.  God used all sorts of things a second time to re-chart my course.  He spoke and pointed me down a trail.  I don’t have it all figured out, but isn’t one step directed by God worth everything?  I can take that step and trust that more counsel is coming.

In 2 Timothy 2:1-6, Paul  gives a number of instructions and then in verse 7 says Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”  When we make the effort to reflect on Scripture and life, God gives insight.  Journaling is a great way to do this kind of reflection and gain God’s direction.

Journaling is a difficult spiritual discipline to enter into for most people.  Generally, people give up too quickly.  They quit before they experience the benefits and conclude that journaling isn’t for them.  Remember, spiritual disciplines require discipline.  That means they take time, energy and effort.  They go against your natural inclinations.  If donut eating and tv viewing made spiritual giants, we would all look a lot more like Jesus.  But, they don’t.  Things like bible study, prayer, solitude and journaling help form your spiritual man.  Do the work.  Spiritual depth, clarity on life, and the counsel of God are on the other end.

Coming up, I will help with some suggestions on getting started with journaling.

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