Why Keep a Spiritual Journal (because it Ignites a Passionate Life of Prayer)

Find out 7 reasons why I think every Christ follower should keep a spiritual journal.

Ever wonder why keeping a spiritual journal is so important?

Below you will find 6 reasons for keeping a spiritual journal. 

I’ve been keeping prayer journals for over 40 years. The focus of my journal is to keep track of my journey with God. The Bible, God’s love letter to us helps us see that people kept journals. They wrote down what they heard God speak.

Over 45 times the Bible speaks about writing down what God spoke. Where would we be if the likes of Moses Nehemiah or Habakkuk hadn’t kept a journal of their encounters and words from God? 

From their example and my experience, here are six reasons why I think every Christ follower should keep a spiritual journal.

1. It keeps at your fingertips a ready reference of the things God is saying to you personally. A personal word from God in the form of a scripture, a dream or a word of prophecy is life-giving. Just like a gift from a loved one, or a picture or an important letter we keep them in a safe place, don’t we?

In the same way, a record of what God is saying to you helps you keep track of your spiritual journey.

 2. It motivates you to read the Bible and listen for God’s voice. Many struggle with reading the Bible so keeping a record of what you are reading and noting the things God speaks to you brings joy and encouragement.

3. It helps to keep you focused. Briefly logging key prayers in your journal aids in praying in the front of each journal entry, I always write: “The prayer recorded is the prayer rewarded.”

As you glance back at the last entry that you wrote it encourages you to keep your appointment with the Lord. It brings a hunger to be more aware of His presence in you and around you.

4. It provides a place of release where you can pour out your heart to the Lord and know He hears you. Have you found that sometimes in trying to pray through your trials, frustrations, or complaints you get caught in a kind of spiral that pulls you deeper rather than breaking out?

Writing and seeing and reading your transaction with God in black and white can be healing, revealing, and transforming. When you break out you now see from God’s perspective.

As you write it’s a way of loosing yourself from the sadness and raw emotion like David did in many of his Psalms.

In some supernatural way, it seals what you’ve been trying to say and brings the peace that passes understanding.

5. Reviewing your spiritual journal entries from previous months and years gives you a perspective on your spiritual growth. Of course, you will see where you’re not listening to God’s voice.

But also, you see where God’s faithfulness and His persistence to communicate His will and direction through journaling is encouraging. For example, when you review older entries you can see God had been speaking to you.

You can record scriptures, impressions, and prophecies given to you by others, helping you keep everything connected. Reading through your journals for the past years gives you perspective on your spiritual life. Instead of a birds-eye view, it’s a long-range view of where you’ve been and where you’re going.

6. It builds trust when you see how God has been working in your life and answering your prayers. Leafing back through your old entries causes you to praise and worship Him for working in your life.

Finally, if you keep a spiritual journal, what have you learned about its benefits?

 

 

 

6 Reasons Why You Should Keep A Spiritual Journal

Find out how keeping a prayer journal helps you remember God’s detailed touch in your life.

Do you keep old photos? Me too.

Old photos stir our emotions, don’t they? Old photos touch us deeply and keeping a spiritual journal does the same thing.

Why Keep a Spiritual Journal

Photos show the journey we’re on. Spiritual journals remind you of the spiritual journey you’re on. Your relationship with God is a spiritual journey rich in benefits.

Just like looking at those old photos I feel the same way when I flip back through my old journals. Reading what I wrote down brings back memories of my walk with God. And keeping a journal helps you remember God’s detailed touch in your life.   

6 Benefits of keeping a prayer journal:

  1. It reminds you how God specifically worked and is working in your life
  2. It helps you see answers to prayer
  3. It shows how you are growing spiritually
  4. You can easily recall how God has given you direction in the past or for now
  5. You can look back to what you learned from your failures
  6. You EXPERIENCE God’s love through spiritual journaling

Just like keeping old photos brings back old memories, keeping a spiritual journal brings joy. God’s intention is to connect with you and what a better way to record your relationship with Him.

So begin keeping those snapshots of the memorable times with your heavenly Father in your spiritual journal.

Know the Dos and Dont’s of Keeping a Spiritual Journal

Apply some of these tips to your journaling so it’s more life-giving and nourishing to your soul?

dos and donts

Do you struggle with journaling like many others?

Do you want to go deeper?

Then these dos and donts will help you with both:

  • Listen
  • Make your request clear
  • Be Real and Honest
  • Don’t Write-Down Tons of Scriptures
  • Don’t Use High Formal Sounding Language
  • Don’t Use Gobbledygook and Spiritual Buzzwords

1. Listen

I struggled with this at first. It does take time to hear what God has to say. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.  Many people are so busy talking to the Father about the problems that they never stop to hear what He has to say.

That was me.

Can you identify?

Just like any healthy relationship, you ask questions and to listen to the other person speaking, don’t you? That is a critical part of journaling. Listen to what He wants to say. Don’t get so self-focused you forget to focus on Him.

Sometimes the Lord wants to talk about something completely different. He will answer your question in a way you didn’t expect. I have experienced this many times in my own journals when I go back and read His answer.

Listen to what God has to say. Really listen. We get wrapped up in our own ideas that we don’t listen.  Don’t do it.  Jesus often told people, “be careful how you listen.”

2. Make Your Request Clear

Next, make your request clear. Sometimes you write your request down. But it doesn’t seem right. You have a hard time describing your request. Take your time and find the right words to describe your request.

When you come to the Lord come with a clear idea of what you are journaling for. As you begin writing ask yourself, write it down and say, “what do I mean by _____________?” Fill in the blank. By asking this question it nudges you to find the right word or phrase or idea you are writing about.

For example. You might write down. Journaling is important to me. Well, that’s a good start. But what kind of journaling do you mean? Here you could write. “What kind of journaling do I mean? It’s not a diary, it’s spiritual journaling. Where I write down a request and the Father answers me.” Now your request is getting clearer, isn’t it?

Since your request now describes the type of journaling (spiritual journaling) this helps to give you a specific focus for your journal.

It could be as simple as,  “Lord, what do you have to say to me today? What is your direction for me today?”

Chances are an idea is already going through your mind of what you are going to say because it’s a conversation. It might sound like this, “Father, I’m having a hard time putting into words my need and care” or “Good morning Father, how are you doing? I just want to hear what you have to say.”

When you meet with a close friend it’s not hard to get the ball rolling. The conversation seems to flow and goes on from there. It’s the same with journaling. Sometimes it flows back and forth.

3. Be Real and Honest

With close friends, we’re not formal and stuffy are we? I just say, “It’s good to see you, how’s it going? Stop around for a cup of coffee?”

Jesus says, “You’re my friend, I call you friend.” And what a friend He is. He knows you like no one else does. He’s your best friend and you can be real and honest with Him, more so than you can be with any other person in this world.

We don’t approach our friends in a formal manner and we don’t need to approach Jesus in a formal manner either.

A warm affectionate relationship with the Lord Jesus is what I mean. Be real and honest with Him and He will be real and honest with you. He’s all about being real, honest, and truthful.

I didn’t always say it like it is. I didn’t always say it how I felt. I didn’t always say what I  really was thinking in my journal  That’s changed, now I spit it out on paper so to speak.

A practical tip with embarrassing information is after you write it down and spit it out on paper, you can delete it afterward. It’s okay. Your journal is for your eyes only.

Believe me, your journal begins to come alive. You’re not faking it anymore but you’re real. When you are honest with Him you will start to hear some honest answers back. He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. It takes humility to be real.

4. Don’t Write-Down Tons of Scriptures

I use to do that all the time. Honestly, it didn’t help.  

A friend says, “That is like having a conversation with a friend where you are trying to back up every statement you make with a scripture.”  

It’s like quoting the Scripture back to God. I realized He didn’t need me to quote it back to Him.  That was eye-opening to me but was a big help. I don’t do it anymore.

What’s God’s Language Sound Like

You will find that as the Lord speaks to you in your journals He doesn’t quote Scripture. He’s going to say things like, “My daughter, you don’t have to walk through this problem alone.”

A Bible teacher said, “If you get into the “I have to go look up all the scriptures” mode, you cut the flow of your spirit and you get into your mind. That is when you start walking a delicate line that can even lead to deception.”

Wise counsel.

I would take my mind off what God was saying and began analyzing it.  Now I journal first then afterward look up the Scripture if any came to mind.

5. Don’t Use High Formal Sounding Language

It was a shock to me to find out that the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit doesn’t speak in King James.

When Jesus walked the earth, He was rather ordinary.  He looked ordinary and spoke the ordinary language of the day. No high sounding language for Him.

He might have looked ordinary and sounded ordinary but He spoke with authority.  He spoke in such a way that children were drawn to Him, the beggars understood Him. Prostitutes and tax collectors understood Him. 

He Talks Your Language

You’ll find as your warm affectionate relationship with Jesus develops over time that He talks your language. He speaks like you speak.

Think about it. If you speak German, He speaks German. If you speak English, He speaks English. He speaks to you in a way that you will understand Him. That’s awesome.

He speaks a language that you can understand. He speaks in pictures, types, and shadows. I’m dyslexic and a visual learner so I find the language of the Holy Spirit is filled with images and pictures. He speaks my language.

6. Don’t Use Gobbledygook and Spiritual Buzzwords

Don’t fall for the “Christian buzzwords” making its rounds in the Church. Many times we’ve grown up with these “buzzwords” passed down through the years.

And so you use them and think nothing of it.   When you catch yourself using one of those “buzzwords” ask yourself, “What does that “buzzword” mean?”

Finally, you know some of the dos and donts about journaling

What next? Are you satisfied with your journal? Will you apply some of these tips to your journaling so it’s more life-giving and nourishing to your soul?

Are you still doing all the talking in your journals or do they look like a conversation?  It takes time to get more conversational in your journaling, but I know,  as you apply yourself, that you will soon come to the place where your heavenly Father and you are talking face-to-face!

Find Out How You Can Hear The Voice Of God Through Journaling

Find out how you can begin to hear the voice of God through journaling.

Did your parents teach you how to have a conversation when you were young? Me too.

Good parents teach their children at a young age how to have a conversation with someone else. From ordering food when the waitress comes to the table to take the order to talking to Grandma and talking to friends.

Teaching children taught me that children are not born knowing how to have a good conversation with somebody. Most of the time kids are very one-sided in their conversation. Most of the time it’s more like, “Look at me” and they talk about everything they did.

Many times when we think of journaling we imagine doing all the talking like a child. But hearing God’s voice through journaling is more a two-way conversation that can be learned.

1 Chronicles 28:19  David said, “This is in writing because His hand was upon me. He helped me to know all the plan.”

I believe David learned the Art of Journaling. What do you think?

David wrote a lot. We have the Psalms to prove it.  Journaling is a skill. It’s not a skill you are born with. You learn how to develop conversation as a kid and you learn to develop a conversation with God very much the same.

A good definition of spiritual journaling is  – a written conversation with the Lord.

“It is a written dialog between you and the Lord where you approach Him with your thoughts and ideas and write back what He tells you.”

What Hearing the Voice of God Through Journaling Looks Like

Journaling looks like this,

“Father, I am having a bad day. I didn’t get any sleep last night. I don’t feel like getting out of bed today, Lord.”

The Secret to Hearing God Through Journaling is Being Honest

Now it’s the Lord’s chance to talk. That is one of the secrets to hearing His voice. Be real don’t fake it. Say it like it is and come to Him as you are. As you come and journal (by writing down) how sad you are and whatever else, then you quiet your spirit.

Next, a picture might come to you, a memory may come to you or a scripture will come to mind, and all you need to do is start writing it down.

Don’t worry about grammar because it’s your journal and for your eyes only. You’re not writing an essay. The key in writing it down is to not write in the third person but to write it as if it is coming directly from the Lord to your heart.

So, after I’ve  written my part, I close my eyes and say, “Okay Father, what do you have to say me?”  

It would look a little like this,

“I am with you, my child.  It’s time to put your problems aside and to just sit in my  presence, I’ll stay with you and never leave you. We’ll walk through this problem together.”

You are journaling!

It takes a little bit of practice not to do all the talking at first. Journaling takes practice because it’s a skill that you can learn. At first, it will probably be straight from your mind.

Relax.

It is okay.

I’ve gone back to some of my old journals years ago. I did all talking but wasn’t listening for the Father’s voice. But over time I heard His voice more clearly. It’ was life-giving – like a feast for my soul.

Start slowly.  Remember no child learns to speak overnight? Just like a toddler needs time to learn to speak, we need time to learn to hear His voice. Yes, some of what you write down will be your thoughts and ideas.

The more you journal the better you will get. Just like me, you will look over older journals and see which parts were God and which parts came from you.  That’s okay. The more you get used to hearing His voice, the more you will discern where you are getting off track.

It’s a relationship. From God’s heart to your heart. In every healthy relationship, it takes a while to understand what the other person is “really” saying. Sometimes you need to ask clarifying questions, don’t you? It takes time to get to know one another. It is the same with the Lord.

Simply put, spiritual journaling is a method of conversation by writing, where you state your thoughts to the Lord and then you write down His answer.

People make it hard but learning how to journal is quite simple and takes time.

 

4 Tips on How You Can Develop a Conversational Prayer Life

How you can begin your Conversational Prayer Life today.

What if…

God could mentor you about the concerns of your life?

The Holy Spirit could teach you the Scriptures and make them come alive?

What if you could have a strong conversational prayer life with God as you read in the Bible?

You can.

Because God still speaks!

Once I developed a conversational prayer life, I found there’re four parts.  The four different aspects are:

  1. Focusing
  2. Listening
  3. Discerning and
  4. Responding

I still remember the day I said, people in the Bible heard God speak. I read story after story about Jesus speaking to people, the Holy Spirit leading people. But God, I want to hear you speak to me not read about how you spoke to people years ago.

Conversational prayer includes four parts and the first aspect is what I call focus. Praying this way is a lot like any conversation. You’ve got to quiet your thoughts and focus on what the other person is saying, don’t you?

“Conversational prayer is an excellent approach to Christian transformation.  Engaging with God as the process for lasting change–not just performing Christian disciplines,” says Jeff.

Focusing and quieting was new for me. Once I got the hang of it I wouldn’t go back to my old way (rushing through my prayer time).”

Quieting and focusing is critical to conversational prayer

Come to God. Trust Him and expect to hear Him speak. Focus on Him and cut down the inner noise.

  • Quiet your mind and let go of stress. 
  • Open up to Him like a flower opens up to the sun. 
  • Ask God to unveil Himself to you. (Not a dramatic event but increasing awareness of His presence. 
  • Look for Him with your heart (inquiring, seeking, longing.) 
  • Don’t be passive, you’re engaging the God of the universe.

What helps me quiet may help you as well. These methods include:

—-> Remove distractions (turn your cell phone off, go to a quiet room and shut the door). 

—-> Have paper for notes. 

—-> Relax (take a couple of deep breaths, or stretch to reduce stress). 

—-> Listen to music (instrumental music works best).

 —-> Pacing helps some instead of sitting.

God’s intention is to speak to His children

It all started in the Garden of Eden with Adman and Eve.

(Ps. 29:3-4) “The voice of the Lord echoes through the skies and seas …  So powerful is his voice, so brilliant and bright, how majestic as he thunders over the great waters!”

(Is. 55) “Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good … Incline your ear … listen, so that you may live … so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose …”

(Mat. 4:4) He answered, “The Scriptures say: Bread alone will not satisfy, but true life is found in every word which constantly goes forth from God’s mouth.”

(John 5:25) “I speak to you eternal truth: Soon the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who listen will arise with life!”

(6:45) Jesus continued, “It has been written by the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God himself.’  If you are really listening to the Father and learning directly from him, you will come to me. 

 

 

 

How to Keep a Prayer Journal

Find out the benefits of keeping a prayer journal.

Keeping a prayer journal is important.

Focusing your whole mind as you write on the page produces benefits.

I use this guideline even today in my prayer journal. Fill free to adapt it to your needs.

Tips to Keeping a Prayer Journal

1. Date each entry.

2. At the start of your two-way conversation time, read your previous entry.

3. Discern if you are to talk more about your previous topic (should I go deeper, try to look at it from another point of view) or start something new.

5. If moving on to something new, figure out if you are to talk over a life matter or Scripture phrase or word.

6. Write out impressions or images that come to mind, any thoughts, questions, emotional responses, feelings, and prayers.

7. Use complete sentences or notes because sometimes short sentences can be less meaningful as time goes on.

8. Don’ worry about punctuation. Your journal is for your eyes only.

9. Seek for words that capture your impressions well, like a picture, or emotion.

10. Set aside a few pages for new prayer requests and to keep track of any conversations you wish to have with God at a later time.

The Benefits of a Prayer Journal

1. Helps you to start or re-start your conversations with God by reading what you penned in your journal.

2. Gives an unbroken flow to your conversations from day-to-day.  Encourages you to stay focused while you talk to God.

3. You don’t forget your previous conversations.

4. You’re able to glance what you’ve written to re-start your thoughts and helps refresh memories.

5. Understanding is better when the words are in front of you.

6. Keeps you fully engaged.