A 4-Part Formula to Start Spiritual Journals
I’ve often tried to adopt the daily practice. But with spiritual journals, I find I use them more frequently when I’m trying to sort out decisions or seek Biblical direction. I journal in a variety of ways when I feel the Holy Spirit prompt, “Don’t miss this,” or when I’m trying to untangle my thoughts.
Recently, though, I’ve discovered a lot of peace when journaling my spiritual journey on a day-to-day basis. The daily practice reminds me to focus on our Savior and seek His ways as I navigate life.
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What are Spiritual Journals or Spiritual Notebooks?
A spiritual journal is simply a notebook or a document on your device reserved for writing thoughts. More than just recording events of your day, spiritual journals will record how we see the Lord’s involvement in our daily lives.
Types of Journals for Your Spiritual Walk
The types are as endless as your own imagination, but a few of the most commonly used spiritual journal ideas include:
- Prayer journals (listing out your prayers so you can watch for and record answers)
- Journals that pair with Bible studies (helping you internalize and apply what you learn)
- Sermon journals (writing down the inspiration that comes from spiritual leaders)
- Spiritual growth journals (detailing your intentional activities to draw near to God)
- “God” sighting journals (recording where you see the Lord moving in your life, answering prayer, providing for needs, directing your path, etc.)
- A Gratitude Journal (naturally, to record your thanks)
- Spiritual Gift Journal (to convey how you use or develop your spiritual gifts)
- And many more
What Is the Best Journal?
There are a plethora of options, but the best journals are the ones that you will actually use. I find it beneficial to shop around and pay a little bit more for a journal I enjoy opening and using each day. My spiritual walk is a gift that I want to document appropriately. If funds are tight, you can always add your favorites to your wishlist or ask for them as a gift.
For writing about spiritual matters, I’ve experimented with a 3-ring notebook (smaller versions work well for me), composition notebooks (especially if they’re cute), spiral notebook (these are super fun when they can be personalized), 3×5 notecards, even sticky notes. Sometimes I will record my thoughts in a typed document, but normally I like to write with a pen in hand. There’s something about slowing down and considering the words that help me focus my spiritual thoughts. Using a keyboard doesn’t always bring the same degree of introspection.
Research shows that writing with pen and paper promotes high-quality learning and offers a good strategy to store and internalize ideas for the long-term. The act of putting pen to paper to record what we have experienced in our walk with Christ strengthens both our recollection and our resolve to walk in obedience to His ways. That’s why it’s important to shop for something you’ll enjoy.
Why Keep a Journal for Spiritual Matters?
The instruction from Deuteronomy 4:9 (HCSB), encourages us to remember spiritual teaching and pass it on to our children. It says, “be on guard and diligently watch yourselves so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen and so that they don’t slip from your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.”
The practice of journaling prompts us to take this Biblical encouragement and puts it into practice. Writing down the ways we see the Lord moving in our spiritual lives helps us keep them at the front of our minds so we can share them with others.
A Journal Helps Us Self Examine
Through journaling, we can evaluate our thoughts, reactions, spiritual growth, and the way we apply Biblical truth to our lives.
Author Michael Hyatt says in his article about a daily journal, “What happens to us is not as important as the meaning we assign to it. Journaling helps sort this out.”
I completely agree. Writing in a spiritual journal prompts me to process my thoughts and determine the most God-honoring response to the situations I encounter. I can then proceed with purpose and intention—steady my spiritual walk, so to speak—and pursue obedience to Jesus. I find it’s well worth the time investment and is one of my favorite practices to help quiet surging emotions to focus on the Lord.
Writing in a spiritual journal is a helpful tool to diligently watch ourselves.
A Journal is a Great Tool for Meditation
When we’re quiet before Jesus, He often reveals meaningful insights through His Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit. We often have to sort through the revelations one bite at a time. Recording our thoughts brings what may seem like a blurry landscape into better focus. The more we contemplate Biblical truth by writing in a journal, the more we can process, remember, and apply the spiritual aspects that we learn.
Journaling is helpful to remember what we’ve seen.
A Journal Records our Journey of Faith
A journal serves as a type of memorial stone so that our stories don’t get lost in the busyness of our schedules. The Lord told Joshua to establish markers that would always serve as a memorial for His people and a sign among them. Looking back on our own stories helps us recall the steadfast nature of the Almighty and builds our faith for the road ahead.
Journaling is helpful to keep our stories from slipping our minds.
A Journal Can Witness to Future Generations
Most often when we write in a journal, we’re writing for our own benefit and not for an audience. Keep in mind, however, that when we pass from this life, our journals may be collected and read by our loved ones. They will read our stories of powerful spiritual testimony and spiritual growth through our own words. Only the Lord knows how He may use our journals to encourage others and perhaps draw them into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Journaling helps teach our children and grandchildren.
A 4-Part Formula To Start Spiritual Journal
Facing a blank page can feel daunting. When creating a spiritual journal, writing to—or about—the Lord can feel intimidating, although He encourages us to speak to Him as a friend. The biggest key to becoming comfortable with the practice of writing in a journal is to begin doing it. There are 4 steps that will help any beginner adopt the practice as a daily routine.
- Decide When And Where You’ll Journal. Many people enjoy setting aside a specific time and place to record their thoughts each day. Others write when inspiration strikes and always have pen and paper within reach. Finding a quiet place is important so you can reflect and contemplate. Establishing a prayer closet or prayer nook is a good practice. You may need to experiment and find a favorite routine that works best for your personality and schedule.
- Start Small. If you’re just beginning, remember to start small. Your goal isn’t to write your entire life story but to begin where you are. Start by recording your thoughts today and work to develop a consistent habit over the next few weeks. As with any spiritual discipline, journaling takes practice before it starts to feel comfortable and routine.
- Ask Yourself a Few Questions. Especially in the beginning stages, you might like to ask yourself a few questions then record your answers in your journal. Here are a few places to start:
- What did I read in the Bible today that encouraged me?
- How will it help me in the challenges I face today?
- Where did I see Jesus’ activity in my life today (in the way He provided, directed, or helped)?
- For what things am I thankful?
- Review What You Write. Looking back on your thoughts of your past helps keep your mind focused on Jesus in the present and future. It also reminds you that Jesus is near, that He has helped you before, and is sure to help you again. Anne Frank once said, “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” What a delightful reason to write and review a spiritual journal.
Journal Templates With Writing Prompts
Some journals are available with pre-printed templates. These are among my favorite tools and help relieve a lot of pressure that comes when wondering what to write or how to begin. They are encouraging tools. I invite you to visit my shop for a dynamic prayer journal or Bible study companion journal.
Comparing a Prayer Journal vs Notebook
A prayer journal is among the most unique types of journal. It is most beneficial when you have room for several aspects of prayer. My Prayer Journal is a reader favorite and is available in my shop. It uses the beautifully illustrated acronym P.O.W.E.R., with room to record your Praise, Offer of Thanks, Warfare (with room to write prayer requests and answers to prayer), ways that you Embrace His Instruction, and Repent of any sin in your life. (By the way, this makes a wonderful gift for anyone who enjoys prayer.) When you’re trying to add a new spiritual practice into a tiny nook of time, having pre-printed prompts is a game changer!
If you’d like to read another article about prayer, I recommend this one on how to pray daily.
The Gift of Keeping a Journal
For centuries, countless followers of Jesus have kept a journal to document their spiritual journey and add to their abiding connection with Christ. It’s a favorite among ways that we can release our creative nature and express our hearts. When we journal, we clear our minds of troubling thoughts and lay them at the feet of Jesus. We release the burdens of our hearts so that we can walk in freedom and joy. By writing in a journal, we can pass on a legacy of the Lord’s loving truth to the generations that follow.
If you haven’t yet started the practice of journaling about your spiritual walk with Jesus, I encourage you to begin as soon as possible and reap the blessings that follow.