Write it down: The discipline of journaling
Write it down!
Exodus 17:14 (NKJV) 14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”
Nehemiah 9:38 (NKJV) 38 “And because of all this, We make a sure covenant and write it;
Our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it.””
Jeremiah 36:1-2 (NKJV) Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: 2 “Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day.
Habakkuk 2:2 (NKJV) 2 Then the Lord answered me and said:
“Write the vision. And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.
Luke 1:3 (NKJV) 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,
Jude 1:3 (NKJV) 3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
The discipline of writing and journaling.
One of the great disciplines of spirituality is writing and journaling your thoughts, prayers, disappointments, pains, victories, and answers. As we continue to put into place key disciplines to help us on our journey, it is important to put journaling in place.
Most people I speak with do not journal for three reasons:
1. They can’t write. Or more specifically their writing is not worth publishing. Who cares! Journaling is not about show casing your writing techniques. It is a private document between you and Jesus.
2. They don’t know what to write about. Well—that’s what this blog is about. I will help you.
3. They tried but failed. Well I would have never ridden a bicycle or preached another sermon if I stopped after the first failure.
Why Journaling works:
1. Writing makes you stop and think, ponder, meditate. Writing slows you down. Writing gives you deep moments of introspection. All of that in turn gives God more opportunity to speak to you!
2. You can track your journey. Do you ever think—wow what have I learned lately? How have I been formed into the image of Christ lately? Where has God been lately? Well if you are journaling on a regular basis you can go and look.
3. It a central place to store good stuff you learn from others. Quotes from others. Thoughts from others. All stored in one place.
How to Journal
1. Decide where or how you will journal. Are you going to long hand write? Use your computer? Your tablet? Are you going to record your journal on a digital recording device? So what works for you?
2. What should I journal about?
I have the following sections in my journal that work for me. You need to develop a system that works for you. Now because I use a computer each of these individual sections is also in a different colour font. I don’t write in every section every day—but I try to write something in one or two sections every day.
a- Annual directions. At the beginning of the year, and through out the year, if I have a sense of something that is long term I put it at the beginning of my journal. I have a theme verse for the year, a theme song, and any other things that are over-arching or relevant for my pilgrimage this year.
b- Repentance and confession of sin: Here I write prayers of confession.
c- Thanksgiving: Here I write prayers of thanksgiving—areas where God has shown up powerfully and answered prayer.
d- Lectio Divina: (see earlier blog) What is the Word of God saying to me today?
e- General Musings: What is the Lord showing me, telling me?
A lot of my journaling is written prayers. Some of my journaling is the words I sense the Lord speaking to me. I also include words shared with me by trust-worthy others. When I sin, am bothered by something/someone, when I am confused—my journal is the place I go to write, confess, weep, pray, mediate and stay until the Lord speaks and directs.
Do I ever share what is in my journal? Yes, sometimes I do. Periodically the Lord stirs my heart to share specific things with my spiritual director and my wife—and I email them to them. Often I send out PWC Musings to a closed email group. Most of those musings arise from Lectio Divina exercises. Should you do that? I don’t know—ask Jesus.
The one book that trained me to journal best was Listening Prayer by Leanne Payne (Baker Books, 1999)