“Is journaling scriptural or should Christians be wary of it as a New Age practice for self-exploration?”
“For whom do you Journal? Who is the audience you envision?”
“When you are journaling, how do you keep yourself from lapsing into performance-mode and writing for an audience?”
These questions have rattled around in my head for a few days.
Recently I listened to Michael Hyatt’s podcast entitled ““The 7 Benefits of Keeping a Journal”. Michael did a good job of inspiring me once again to consider journaling. I felt he could relate to my experience and the resistance I often faced. These questions came up during the podcast and became a catalyst for my thinking.
As his podcast developed I concluded that I should pursue this again, after all, if I’m going to set my affections on things above then it makes sense to develop a greater life awareness. BUT this time I want to add one extra element. And I hope it may help me overcome the resistance I have experienced in the past.
As a missionary with New Tribes Mission, I am part of a ministry that believes strongly in the value of prayer. We regularly schedule “Days of Prayer” for the purpose of taking a full day to talk to the Lord in behalf of our teams, to seek direction, blessing, support, and faithful character needed for the task God has called us to. But honestly, I have always struggled in prayer. My mind tends to wonder, I get caught up thinking through tasks I’m reminded of during the prayer, or I simply fall asleep. This frustrates me in my passion for faithfulness.
As a Bible School student I became frustrated with myself and decided to write my prayer out. I chose to write it like a personal letter. The results were encouraging!
- I can stay on track with each thought.
- I wasn’t concerned about forgetting a task that came to mind because I could refer to the letter later.
- I was able to keep my focus off myself and keep God’s perspective before me.
- And best – I was faithful.
I have done this several times since but not continuously. Yet, I have found the benefits lasted longer than just the one prayer. My mental prayers have taken on some of the same characteristics and thus been affected as well.
When I was listening to Michael talk about journaling, I remembered this exercise and thought it might be helpful to combine the two.
Is this “ok” for Christians?
One of the greatest journalists of the Bible was King David. As I read through the Psalms, I am struck with how many letters David wrote with no particular audience, other than God, in mind. His psalms were often written as letters, were very personal, chronicled his own struggles and victories, and became a record he could refer back to for personal growth. Sounds a lot like a journal. Sounds a lot like a written prayer.
What is the result of having God as your audience?
When I’m writing to the Creator of the universe, I don’t have to worry about manipulating my audience from a lack of transparency. After all, He knows everything about me! Psalm 139 clearly shows how David knew God could not be fooled so you might as well be honest!
Chronicles of growth in my relationship and fellowship!
When I’m writing to God, I can see not only how my life events have changed but I can also see how my relationship and interactions with God have changed. I believe this might be one of the strongest arguments in favor of it.
Getting to “know” God.
Journaling is often praised for how it helps us “discover” ourselves. We discover patterns, views, attitudes, desires, and much more about ourselves.
Jeremiah 9:24 says,
“But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
By writing to God, I am seeking to converse with God and will consider how He receives my words. I will be learning about God in my very interaction with Him. And I think this impact will overflow in to the other parts of my life. During the decisions of my normal day, surely I will consider the fact that I will be talking to God about it very soon.
So I think I will take up journaling but with the twist of writing my entries as prayers to the Lord.
The benefits I expect from Christian Journaling:
1. Honesty, humility and transparency in my daily reviews.
2. Encouragement from seeing my relationship with God grow.
3. Greater understanding and insight into God’s perspectives.
4. Valuable wisdom in my daily decisions and activities.
With benefits like that surely I’ll finally breakthrough the resistance I always experience when I have tried journaling!
Any help for me?
Can you relate to the resistance I have experienced? Do you have any tips or thoughts you would add? I would greatly appreciate your encouragement through the comments below!