What is a spiritual discipline? It is a tool, method, or process which deepens your relationship with God. A spiritual discipline can practiced one-time, occasional, or repeated.
Journaling will usually fall into the repeated or occasional practice. There are a couple major categories of journaling: (1) life journaling and (2) quiet time journaling. Allow me to describe each.
LIFE JOURNALING. Life journaling is more than keeping a historical record of what happened daily or on certain days. As a spiritual discipline, life journaling is reporting God’s interaction in life. It is recognizing His presence and work during a period of time. Such journaling may record spiritual insights, stretching, praise, thanks, hurts, etc. Such journaling may naturally at times include insights from Bible study and prayer, but life journaling will tend to look through the lens of God’s intersection with life.
QUIET TIME JOURNALING. Quiet time journaling will begin with Bible study and prayer. As a spiritual discipline, quiet time journaling includes insights from passages studied as well as prayers requests made and answers given. In an overly simplified way, it is listening to what God is saying and responding to Him in prayer through jouraling. Jouraling will often include questions, concerns, realization of personal application, commitment, and even accountability. Personally I discoverd much benefit from journaling as a young Christian teenager.
Here is a simple quiet time journaling outline:
BIBLE STUDY (read, listen, examine)
- Orignial context: What was the main truth/point of this passage in the original context?
- My context: What truth/point is God communicating to me?
PRAYER (praise, agree/confess, request)
- What is my response to what God said/expects?
COMMITMENT (agree, commit to change)
- Am I willing to do what He wants?
- How do I need to change/respond?
OBEDIENCE (accountability, check back over the next few days)
- What did I do as a result of my encounter with God in His Word and the commitment I made to Him?
A journal entry will usually have the scripture reference and the date. Writing often leads to deeper processing and insights. Writing can be reviewed later to recognize spriitual progress or needs as well as to help keep commitments made.
Not every spiritual discipline has to be fun. (We are talking about “discipline” here.) But if you are going to try journaling, I want to encourage you to try it at least 3-5 times per week for a month. Many who give it a healthy trial find great spiritual benefit from the spiritual discipline of journaling. Keep in mind that journaling is a great disciple-making tool.
For more ideas about spiritual growth and discipleship, check out these blog posts: