We are not told anywhere in Scripture that Jesus ever wrote anything down, except for that brief incident in which he stooped down and scribbled on the ground while the Pharisees who had caught and adulteress in the act were ready to stone her.
Men have been journaling ever since the first caveman drew on a wall. There is something in man that cries out to be heard. We need to express ourselves, be heard, to tell the thing from our own perspective. From time to time the children in our children's ministries will give me little notes to express their appreciation. Those notes are precious to me and must be to God as well. I often save them.
Writing, diaries, tracking life events, and writing poetry, etc. are all part of journaling.
How To Start
Getting started is always the hardest part of any new discipline. If you are not naturally one who writes then it will be even harder.
It is not necessary to buy a journal that is made of genuine bonded leather. Just a lined spiral notebook will do. Begin by putting a title on the cover so you know what is in that journal. I like the half-sheet notebook better than the 8 ½ by 11. It's less threatening to write a half a page.
Many Journal Entries
- Each page should begin with a day, and date. Don't date each page ahead since you might get gabby and run over onto several pages.
- Mine is a Devotional Journal so I put the Bible reading at the top.
- Start with what God said, "Jesus, said…" Then what that means to you.
- Close with a written prayer. Be honest to God.
- Write a brief sentence. State a fact that sums up where you are, "Lord, I'm tired."
There are many kinds of journals one can keep. I suggest you keep just one really but incorporate many, if not all, of the below mentioned disciplines. You will find it stretches you and makes you grow spiritually.
The simplest journal is a notebook with entries for every day where you record events and your thoughts about those events. Sometimes it is nothing more than the weather or how you are feeling that day. Just be faithful to write it down. It is a good discipline.
Writing to God the prayer of your heart is one of the most rewarding activities of a journal. Sometimes I don't even know what my prayer is until I begin writing and talking out loud to God. You will discover it is a wonderful way to cry out to God. David did, and we got the Psalms.
You should always keep your journal close to your Bible and record the Scripture you read for that day. Then follow it up by recording what God said to you through it. Oswald Chambers did and ended up with My Utmost for His Highest. My brother does this and has e-mailed it to friends who expressed an interest in his musings. Many are blessed.
It can be a painful thing to look inside and take spiritual inventory. God expects us to. Doing it in writing really makes us take a hard look at ourselves. You may not do this every day but periodically, say three times a year, we ought to do a through cleaning of our hearts in this way. (Psalms 139:2, 23)
Most of us don't think of ourselves as poets, especially guys. Poetry doesn't have to rhyme. It can be just lines of thoughts as you muse on a particular topic. Occasionally I get inspired to write poetry. When the inspiration is there you'd better write it down because it won't be there tomorrow.
After years of counseling people I have discovered that most of us are not in touch with our true feelings, and not aware of internal dialog that is taking place every day. A wonderful and therapeutic discipline is to daily track the trail of your ever-changing moods.
Work Through a Problem
When you are angry you should work it out. Who do you talk to when you are frustrated or angry? When you have a conflict or a huge upset at your job or in a relationship, what do you do? How do you work it out and think it through? Journaling is a wonderful way to think out loud to yourself. Then the problem is in front of you to examine carefully.
Write your dreams down in my journal rather than keeping a separate diary. Many people think it is silly to dream, but dreams help us understand ourselves. For instance, "If I could do anything with my life (or do it over), this is what I'd like to do." At the end or beginning of the year I write down my dreams or goal I wish to pursue during the year.
You make lists of things, preferably long lists, 20-100 items long. And don't get up from the table until you've thought of that number of things. You may have to pick it up later that day. Let you mind work on it during the day.
- 100 things I am thankful for.
- 100 things I want to do before I die
- 100 smells I love
- 20 books I want to read.
- 50 great moments in my life.
I usually get to about number 20 or 25 before I run dry or the going gets tough. The secret is to keep going until you exhaust all your possibilities. That's how you wring out your brain and see what is in there.
Remembering is a fantastic thing. Try writing down real life stories and events that have happened to you in your life. Elderly people often start doing this later in life and it is a wonderful and rich way to share their experiences. For a guy it might be "My first day of hunting." For a girl it might be "My first prom, or my first date or boyfriend." Your life is composed of stories. Reviewing them, remembering them and sharing them can be a very rewarding experience.
If your life is worth living it is worth writing about and reflecting on. Your relationship with God is a journey. Why not keep a journal of your walk?
Start this month. For the next 30 days keep a daily diary, journal, or commentary. See if it isn't rewarding.