In a previous post, I discussed the practice of journaling. Now, I hope to give a couple of ways this can be done. The goal isn’t to be exhaustive, but highlighting both spontaneous and concentrated journaling might spur you to think about journaling in a fresh way.
The first way is spontaneous journaling. Have paper or your phone on hand and jot down things throughout the day—anything you want to bring to the Lord in prayer. Whatever comes to your mind, or you want to “vent” about. Spontaneous reflection can be beneficial. It can be done and left as is, or you can compile your thoughts for future consideration of what God has taught you. If you want to pursue the latter route, then once a month, or every other week, organize all your random scribbles so that you have it stored for the future.
Another way is to have time each day, each week, each month, whatever works for a focused time of journaling. The rhythm is going to vary depending on who you are. The purpose of all of this is to find what works. As I mentioned in another post, my mom journaled daily. It was an ingrained habit that I believe helped her to not only grow as a Christian but also love her family well. I knew that her love for me was an overflow of her love for the Lord. That worked for her.
For me, I don’t journal every day in a concentrated sense. I do spontaneous journaling, some concentrated prayer journaling, and I try to write out every lesson and sermon I do. I could do an outline, but writing manuscripts is a discipline and practice that forces me to think through what I am teaching every time. It is also helpful, and at times embarrassing, to look back at old lessons and sermons.
Lastly, I want to say that the purpose of journaling isn’t to jot down all your best insights or most significant life events. When that becomes the case, we serve the journal instead of having the journal as a tool for us. We are not attempting to create more anxiety, but to have a release. A way for us to get what’s in our head onto paper. A way to offload our thinking and give it to the Lord.
Even those who don’t yet know the Lord see the wisdom in journaling. Many writers begin the day with something they call “morning pages” this helps them to get restless thoughts out of there head so that they can concentrate better. For Christians, this is not an empty practice of improving ourselves; it is a way for us to image God as we communicate. Not only that, but often when we write down our thoughts, we can see the depth of our sin, our weakness, and our bitterness towards others.
It is here where we don’t just think, “well, at least it’s out of my head,” but if you are a Christian, you confess it to the Lord and rest in the forgiveness and love of God in Christ. If you not a Christian, I pray that if you do this practice, God will convict you of the sin in your life and lead you to the only source of forgiveness, Jesus Christ.