Yesterday in Sunday school, we talked about journaling, and how useful it is in our walk. We learned three basic ideas:
Writing is a record and a reminder.By keeping a journal, we are able to look back and see where we have been, where we have come from. It's also a good way to see just how God has worked in our lives - a nice little reminder for those times we are feeling down or feeling like God isn't or hasn't worked in our lives (you know those times, it's when the enemy gets hold of our thoughts and tells us that we are such a bad person and how can we call ourselves Christian because we've done such and such and if that's the case, why would God love us or work in our lives). In other words, journaling can help us grow in our walk.
Some people keep prayer journals. Back when I felt such fire for the Lord, felt passionate about my gifts and talents and what I wanted to do, back when I was in the first year of my first degree in university (way back in 2002), I kept a prayer journal. I would record the date, the person I was praying for and the situation. I would write a notation at the bottom such as "Answered: (insert date answered here). There were times I wasn't sure if a prayer had been answered, but I did my best to keep up with the journal and recording the dates they were answered.
I came across that journal a couple of months ago, and I had a quick glance through it. I remembered many of the situations I had prayed about, the people I had prayed for (several were people from school), and was able to see just how many answered prayers there were.
The type of journal I'm writing about today is more of a day to day (or if not daily, then frequently), journaling our thoughts, etc. of what we have read in our devotions or Bible reading.
Writing is a retreat - the secret places of our heart and mind (our ups and downs). We did a "practice" journal entry in class with a limited amount of time. When that time was up, many people agreed that the time seemed to go by quickly. It's a good way of voicing (in print) our thoughts, feelings, questions, etc. about our walk, about what the Lord may have revealed to us in the Word, how the reading applies to us, what we may fear.
I know some people have a difficult time talking with others about matters of their heart (with regard to their walk with the Lord). For me, there are times when I don't want to talk to someone because I know tears will be involved, and I don't like crying in front of people. Journaling gives an outlet to express our fears, thoughts, etc. in a safe environment. We can record the times we've failed, the times God has brought us out of the "depths of despair" (to borrow a phrase from Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables).
Several of the Psalms, Chronicles and Job examples of recordings of times when people have had ups and downs in their lives. We don't just want to focus on the good things (the ups), because we all know life is not made up of just good times. We will have struggles and troubles along the way, and it's also good to record those as well as the good times.
Connection with God. Journaling can connect us with God. It can be another form of prayer - written as opposed to spoken. Sometimes God will give us a revelation and we can record that in our journal. Look at Revelation 1:1, for example: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him (John)..." We can also see in the Old Testament that the revelations given to the prophets were recorded (2 Chronicles 33:19) "...all are written in the records of the seers".
So, you've decided you want to try journaling. Here is a good "formula" (for lack of a better word) when you sit down to write:
1. Always start with prayer
2. Use a passage or verse
3. Write it out
4. Summarize it
5. Write your responses to it (good, bad, questions, etc.)
If you haven't tried journaling, go ahead and try it. Let your thoughts and prayers go out through your fingers!
Have you journaled? What as your experience been? If you haven't, is this something you would be willing to try? Let me know in the comments section!
*** Edited to add: Seems I somehow lost a big paragraph I had before the questions (in green). Not sure what happened with that, but if I can remember what I wrote, I will go back and add it later.