Spiritual Journaling for Christian Growth and Transformation
Spiritual journaling is a great way to find time for God and to hear his voice encouraging you while still allowing yourself to nurture your own spirit. In this article, I explain how to start spiritual journaling. In addition, I provide you with ideas so you can start your own journal today.
A spiritual journal records your journey towards God. Other than meditation and sacred silence, I can’t think of any other practice except reading my Bible that has had a greater impact on my life. I have been journaling for over 15 years. I began spiritual journaling when I was going through a tough time emotionally. Spiritual journaling helped me to work through my pain. During the stillness and quietness of Spiritual journaling I was able to hear God’s voice comfort and encourage me. It was my time to nurture my spirit, soul, and to pay attention to what I was feeling. Spiritual Journaling allowed me to be real with myself and to release the hidden treasures of my heart. Spiritual journaling also aided me in self-discovery.
Spiritual journaling should be a meaningful and rewarding experience for Christians. It is not just a chronological diary of the day’s events, but contains the thoughts, reflections, and perceptions of our daily life and events. It should contain stories, articles, and objects that reflect you and where you want to be spiritually, physically, and mentally. It contains the keepsakes of the heart and soul.
I encourage spiritual journaling after meditation. Once we become still and relaxed, we create a great environment to hear from God. Keep your journal near while meditating on God to record any words of inspiration, visions, or answers God might be giving you.
Use a journal to record insights from spiritual books you’re reading or the Bible. Write scriptures that touch or prick your heart and meditate on them. Write prayers and keep a prayer log. The ideas are endless.
Setting Up Your Spiritual Journaling
Purchase a large notebook or fancy journal notebook. On the first several pages I like to list my governing values. This keeps them in the front of my mind. I’ll discuss values in the upcoming lesson.
Several pages in, write Table of Contents at the top of the page. On the left side of the page write the words, Date, then Topic, and on the right side Page #. This is how I keep track of my journal topics.
Go in several more pages and write Prayer Request at the top of the page. On the left side under the title write, DATE and on the right side write Request. This is where you record and date your prayer request.
Go in several more pages and write Answered Prayers at the top of the page. This is where you will write and date any answered prayers.
Go in several more pages and write something like, This Journal Belongs to Your Name. This journal is private and it would be a dishonor to me if you read it without my permission. Thank you for honoring my desires, my thoughts, and my privacy. God bless you, Rhonda. Your journal is a sacred letter between you, your thoughts, and God. I just want to let any wandering eyes know this in case their curiosity gets the best of them. If you feel your journal will be read or compromised, you are less likely to write your truest feelings and desires. Keep your journal in a safe place.
Now you are ready to start writing in your journal. Always number the pages of your journal beginning with your first entry. Give every journal entry a title and a date. When you finish an entry, turn to the Table of Contents and list date, title, and beginning page number on one line. Do this for each subsequent entry. This will allow you to easily find entries months or years later.
Writing In Your Spiritual Journal
Don’t feel pressured to write in your journal everyday, but write in it enough to gain some momentum. If you have been meditating daily, consider writing your thoughts at the end of your meditation or during your devotional time with God.
Write whatever comes to mind. Do worry about grammar or spelling. Your English teacher won’t be grading you. There are too many christian journaling methods and activities for me to go into now, but if you’d like to expand your journaling experience, I recommend Richard Peace’s book, Spiritual Journaling: Recording Your Journey Towards God listed below. It provides you with a wealth of ideas and christian journaling activities that help you to understand your past and navigate your future. I also recommend the Guilt-Free Journal. I have bought this journal as a gift for many friends, both men and women, and have yet to find someone who didn’t love it. It’s filled with thought-provoking prompts, areas to list prayer requests, and much more. See more below.
Spiritual Journaling Ideas and Prompts
Here are a few Spiritual Journaling Ideas and Prompts:
Christian Journaling for Spiritual Growth
1. Gratitude Journaling
One of the best things that you can do to grow spiritually is to learn to be thankful for what God has done in your life. The Psalmist in Psalms 107: 1 says that we should always thank God for his love and his goodness. Regardless of circumstances, you always need to give thanks to God just like Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 asserting that this is Christ’s will for the Christian. While you could meditate or sing your favorite thanksgiving hymns, writing it down on paper sears it into your conscience making it have more of an impact. Moreover, with a journal, you have something on hand to refer to how good God has been to you.
2. Prayer Requests
It is very easy to forget to pray for important things in your life or that of others. What I always do is write down prayer requests so that I can be sure that I pray for things I want in my life and others lives. The best thing about journaling prayer requests is when your prayers are answered. In 1 Peter 3:12 it is said that the righteous will get their prayers answered by God. As such, we can be certain that we are growing spiritually when we are getting our prayer requests answered.
3. Journaling to Grow Closer to God
This is my favorite aspect of journaling as I get to grow spiritually. The way I do this is by writing down the songs and verses that God brings to me during my devotion time. You can also jot down the things that you do not understand or things you are struggling with. When God gives you answers to these things, you will be certain that you are growing in the faith. For instance, Jeremiah 33:3 is a great go-to verse that I often use when looking for spiritual growth. It asserts that we should call on God to give us the understanding of things we do not know.
Journal to Deal with Toxic Emotions
The bible is full of verses warning us not to have guilt, grief, jealousy, unforgiveness, anger, anxiety, worry, and fear. Through journaling, you can start to admit that you are indeed afflicted with some of these toxic emotions and do something to change it.
1. Anger: How should you deal with anger?
You would not be human if you never felt anger when people treated you wrong. However, what is wrong is not managing that anger as you should. According to Ephesians 4:26 we need to not let our indignation, fury, or exasperation last overnight. What you need to do when you are angry is to write it in your journal. Having it in your journal will inevitably lead you to meditate on what God says regarding wrath, and you will ask for forgiveness from God and forgive the person that wronged you.
2. Guilt: How should you deal with guilt?
According to Isaiah 53:4-6 Jesus Christ washed away your sins and bore your guilt. However, at one time or another, you will find yourself having a lot of unresolved guilt which can affect your spiritual walk. The best way to get rid of guilt is by writing what you are feeling guilty about and then have all the verses about what God has done for your guilt alongside them. Apart from the verse in Isaiah, Romans 8:1 promises us that those of us that are in Jesus have no condemnation.
3. Grief: How should you deal with grief?
Grief is an important emotion and in fact, God allows us to grieve to release our pain. However, it becomes problematic when the emotion takes control of your life and prevents you from moving forward. Scripture does say that God will wipe away all our tears and take away our pain and grief in Revelation 21:4. The best way to get over grief is by writing down all the emotions you feel after a major loss. Once you have that written down, it is time to pray and ask God to give you the strength to move on with your life and allow the Holy Spirit to be a comforter.
How to Journal for the Present
1. Write Down What You Feel About the Present
What I do is jot down a short list of my feelings in the current moment. An important aspect of spiritual growth is about becoming aware of your emotions so that you can change them if they are wrong. Are you feeling anxious or worried, are you excited or happy? The Bible in Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not be anxious, but instead to ask of God for all our needs. Worry can very quickly derail your spiritual growth and hence it is important to journal and get to know where you are in the present before you start working on yourself.
2. Write Down What You Are Grateful For
List down a few things you are grateful for. These do not have to be momentous things as sometimes the smallest of things such as better circumstances may suffice. The best thing about writing this down is that it can help shift your perspective on the difficult circumstances you may be in, as you take into account the good things you need to be thankful for. By journaling all that you are thankful for, you can get rid of attitudes such as entitlement and bitterness, which may undermine your spiritual growth.
3. Read the Scriptures
My spiritual journaling always involves some aspect of reading the bible. The best way to go about this is by setting out what you are going to be reading every single day of the month. While reading and meditating on the word, you could then reflect on how the verses you are reading say to your present circumstances. Write down a few paragraphs of reflection regarding the verse you are reading in your journal, and your day will get much better for it.
Most of the spiritual journaling needs to be done in the presence of God. When it comes to prayers what I do is explicitly write out prayers in the journal. I will then pray for unpleasant circumstances that may be causing me to worry or have anxiety, I pray for my work, family, and the day. The prayer does not have to be very formal, but rather be inspired by scripture reading, followed by a heart to hear communication with God.
Journaling to Deal with the Past
1. See Yourself According to the Word
The bible says in Romans 3:24 that since we have received Christ we are justified by faith such that it is like we never sinned. In dealing with past issues, look upon the scriptures and what they say about what Jesus has done for you. He took the sin of the world upon himself so that you do not have to worry about what you were, as you are now a new creature who is sinless in the eyes of God. By doing this, you can grow spiritually as you get a new sense of gratitude for the work done on the cross.
2. Look to Grace When You Have Negative Thoughts Over Your Past
Everyone has a lot of skeletons in their past from prideful actions. Business failures, parenting blunders, and marriage mess-ups that can really mess up your spiritual life if you cannot leave them in the past. You can never undo the past, but you can ask God to help you by his grace to move beyond your actions in the past. What you need to do is write down all your past mistakes and then the word of God that deals with such. For instance, you can write about your marriage mess ups and then beside it write about God erasing your past and remaking your future as written in Corinthians 5:17.
3. Find it in Yourself to Forgive
Journaling can be a powerful tool for finding forgiveness not only for yourself, but also for others. Through the word of God such as Colossians 3:14, we learn that God gives us grace and forgives us just as we forgive others. When you find yourself in a bind where you are unable to forgive others write down scriptures about forgiveness and grace, which you can then meditate upon until you find it in yourself to forgive those that wronged you. Find verses about God’s grace and ask that you may have the grace to forgive others just as our heavenly father does forgive.
Journaling for the Future
In Isaiah 43:18-19 and also in Philippians 3:13 the bible asks that we look towards the future towards the good things that God has in store for us. Write down a list of things that you hope to achieve over a given period of time. Ask God to give you the wisdom to choose goals that will be of help in your spiritual growth and that of others. Also, write down all the concerns that you may have and ask God to give you answers. You can then read and meditate on the scriptures to find the answers you are looking for.