For the last seventeen years, I have been writing a daily prayer. It started first in handwritten form and eventually moved to digital form. I’m not sure the impetus for journaling prayers in the first place but I’m grateful that journaling is a part of my life.
There are so many benefits to journaling. Journaling gives you an honest outlet for your thoughts, feelings, and prayers. It gives you a place to vent and release your frustrations. There are many journal-prayers that are full of curses, frustrations at myself, others, and yes, God too.
Looking Back on Journal-Prayers
The beauty of journaling is the ability to look back and see God’s faithfulness. Sometimes I forget how truly faithful God is and when I journal my prayers, I can see God’s faithfulness to my wants and needs. The journaling allows me to see how I’ve grown and struggled on my life’s journey, the challenges I’ve faced and how I’ve overcome or didn’t overcome.
I believe God wants our honest and real selves. Journaling allows us to do this. We can be free to reveal our true thoughts and inner frustrations, our pride and fears, our anger and joy. There is nothing that can’t be put in a journal. Because of this, I will always journal. The growth that comes in these times of being open and real is invaluable. What’s more valuable still is how God speaks to me through my journaling.
I’m going to share an unfiltered journal entry from last week with you, but first here are 10 reasons to take journaling seriously.
10 Reasons to Journal
- Honest expression of frustration is stress and anxiety reducing.
- Daily prayer and reflection are very healthy.
- Journaling brings clarity of mind.
- Reviewing past entries brings great encouragement to your life as you see yourself grow.
- It prevents rash decisions as you reflect and pray through journaling.
- Brilliant ideas have flooded my mind as I open it to God’s promptings when I journal.
- Humility is created when we reflect on how much we have grown or how little!
- Meditating on a single verse or spiritual quote opens one’s heart and mind to important change.
- It can be done anywhere, with a phone, notepad, or computer always available, journaling is easy.
- Amazing men and women have shown us the power of journaling.
My Personal Journal Entry – I Didn’t Do Right By You Tonight
Recently I realized how selfish I have been. Sitting in the dark of my youngest daughter’s bedroom I began to type out a journal entry. As I sat on the rocking chair in the corner of the room, God brought light into a dark selfish place.
“I made a choice to choose myself over your standards and righteousness. I chose to be about my own pleasure and not the pleasure of my Savior. I choose myself a lot. Over my wife, my kids, my job, my friends, and other areas. I’m not praying this to disparage myself or to beat myself up, it’s just a matter of reality of how I am living.
To live a self-controlled life of humility has not been something I have ever given 100%. I put myself first in too many situations for humility and self-control to be the top priority. And even those two priorities are not ideal. The ideal is to be about the pleasure of my King, to do right by Savior and to choose his path instead of my own. But this is a challenge that I am choosing to not face.
Even when I pray and ask for your wisdom and guidance, my choices don’t reflect an obedience to the conviction and guidance you put in my heart and mind. I don’t know what it looks like to change this, but I think realizing that I simply need to do right by you can be a start.
James 4:17 – So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
Journaling Changes Lives
When I began journaling I was a confused and immature 16-year-old. Seventeen years later, many of the struggles of my life have been hashed out through my journaling. Many life changes have been inspired by the honest prayers, promptings of God, and reflections during the time I put my heart out there in my journal.
Looking back on these life-changing entries always brings a smile to my face (and sometimes a tear or two). It is amazing how faithful God is to hear the cries of our hearts. When I take the time to pause and reflect on how much He has used this simple daily habit is when I realize the depth and breadth of its impact.
As I journal tonight, I will pray that you too will find a passion for journaling. I know I’ve not always had a passion for it, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t either. I encourage you and challenge you to start journaling tonight. So how do you start journaling?
How to Start Journaling
Keep it short and simple (to start). Don’t worry about eloquent long-winded entries. Unless you broadcast your journal entry to the interwebs, nobody is going to see it. Keeping it short, in the beginning, makes it a lot easier to keep the habit going.
Pick a platform. I use Apple Notes because it timestamps the entry and it is searchable. Both of these features are very helpful for looking back. But you can use a spiral notebook and pen (I used to do it this way). There are countless options both digital and on paper, just pick one and stick with it.
Put down short prayers as entries. If you start with short prayers, you start in a place of reflection and a humble heart. I find this is the best way to hear what God has to say to me and to listen to my own heart and mind.
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Journal for 2-weeks. Don’t give up if you aren’t “feeling it.” Stick with it for at least 2-weeks. If you still can’t get into it, it’s okay to stop. You can come back to it later or maybe journaling is not for you.
Journal when it’s convenient. It’s okay to journal in the middle of the day. You can do it at lunch, before breakfast, when you’re laying in bed, or any other time. It doesn’t matter. You can’t turn on and off the inspiration to journal and pray, do it whenever and wherever. If you do it on a phone/computer app, no one will even have a clue that your journal-praying and venting about stuff!
Look back often. Even in the first few weeks, it’s valuable to look back. You might be surprised by the wisdom of the words you put down. You may find yourself convicted by your venting. Or you could discover a nugget of truth from God in the words He speaks through your keyboard or pen.
The Secret Step
Start Now. The easiest and most sure-fire way to begin the habit of journaling is to start now. Take out your app or your notebook and write your first entry now. You’ll be on your way on a very exciting and impactful journey.