Have you ever considered journaling as a spiritual discipline?
Do you want to practice the habit of daily journal writing?
Do you wish you had a deeper, more meaningful relationship with the Lord?
Then, this post is for you!
Ah, it’s a New Year!
A time of dreaming and pondering the possibilities.
A time of looking back and reflecting over the previous year.
Yes, looking back.
Most people will begin a new year by setting goals and making new plans all while dreaming of all the possibilities for what lies ahead.
A New Year is certainly a great time for that, but here at Intentional By Grace, we also believe that the first step in starting a New Year off right is with the spiritual discipline of journaling.
What is journaling?
Journaling is nothing more than writing down various things in a notebook. Some people might call it a diary, but I like to stick with journal. It just seems more grown up. ha!
As Christians, keeping a journal is how we record the works and ways of God in our lives. It helps us keep track of all God is doing in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
Why does spiritual journaling matter?
I asked my team member, Ashley, why she thinks spiritual journaling matters, and here’s what she told me:
In the book of Joshua in the Old Testament, after Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry land, we find an interesting command from the Lord.
When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” 6 …that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”-Joshua 4:1-7
This may seem silly or even ordinary, and you may be wondering what this has to do with journaling…
But I think the Lord knew that His people needed a physical sign to remind them of what they had just experienced.
He said, “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them… So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)
The Isrealites needed something to look back on, something to remember that “God was there.”
I love that. The Isrealites needed to set up something that reminded them where they had come from and what God had done.
Journaling as a spiritual discipline is the perfect way to reflect and remember that “God was there.”
Maybe last year was a really tough year, and you’d like to just drive over it with a lawn mower and then leave it in the dumpster in a dark alley and move on. We get it.
It’s easy to struggle with the discipline of journaling and reflecting when things were tough, because once you get it on paper, you have to see it for what it really is. You have to see your heart and your thoughts on a page, and that can be a bit disconcerting.
But when we take time to reflect and (honestly) record the moments of our lives, we will find that “God was there.” He was there and He was at work and He’s still working because that’s just the kind of God He is.
How to get started journaling as a spiritual discipline.
Getting started journaling as a spiritual discipline is so simple.
First, grab a notebook and a pen.
You can grab a cheap spiral notebook from the store, put some loose paper in a 3-ring notebook, or you can invest in a nicer journal.
The options are endless, and it totally depends on your personality.
For me, I like the Leuchtturm1917 Dotted Journal for spiritual journaling. It has a built in index, so I can quickly reference particularly poignant entries, and the dots mean I’m not constrained to writing in perfectly straight lines. If I want to doodle or draw, I can without worrying about a thing.
Related Content: How I Set Up My Prayer Journal
As for what to write with, again, it comes down to preference and budget, but I do suggest using a pen as it won’t rub away throughout the years. My favorite pen for spiritual journaling is this one, but occasionally I will reach for these if I’m feeling colorful.
With pen and paper in hand, the next step is to simply start writing.
Then, continue writing day after day after day.
What do I write in my journal?
There is no right or wrong way to keep a spiritual journal.
Some ideas for writing in a spiritual journal:
- Notable moments of your life like the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, or the salvation of a friend
- Insights from your time in God’s Word
- Written prayers (or even just a list of prayer requests)
- Spontaneous, theological thoughts or musings on the things of God
- Goals and dreams for the future
- Habit tracking and evaluation
- List of books you’re reading, have read, or want to read
- Quotes from books, podcasts, sermons, or events that you don’t want to forget
- Moments that take your breath away, bring you joy, or cause you to give thanks
- Write what you’re thinking, feeling, or experiencing
- And whatever else you feel compelled to record!
In her book, Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh begins with these beautiful words:
“I begin these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work, and human relationships. And since I think best with a pencil in hand, I started to write…”
Writing helps us to know what we think, and what we think influences what we believe, and what we believe influences the way we give life to those around us.
Journal what is true. Not what you wish to be true.
Journal what is real. Not what you wish to be real.
As your thoughts hit the paper, don’t be afraid of what comes out.
Tell the truth.
And just write.
Journaling is profitable at any point in your spiritual journey.
Whether you write in your journal every day, once a week, or even just once a month, you’ll be glad you started.
Because just like the Israelites, there will come a time when you’ll need to be reminded that “God was there.”
Or you’ll simply want to tell of His faithfulness.
Your journals will be there to help you remember and proclaim the goodness of God in your life.
30 Questions to Reflect Over to End the Year Well
Since we’re beginning a new year, we’ve got a whole list of reflection questions below to get you started journaling right away.
Go through them all in one sitting if you like, or spread them out over a whole month. Either way, we hope you find these journal prompts for the beginning of the year helpful in jump-starting your year with the spiritual discipline of journaling.
*Journal prompts provided by contributing writer, Victoria.
- Did I love my family well?
- Did I love others well?
- How did I use my talents and gifts to serve my family and others?
- What is one thing I did really well?
- What is something I know I need to work on?
- Did my priorities align with how I spent my time?
- Did I make my time with the Lord a priority?
- How can I better improve the quality of my devotional time?
- What prayer requests were answered this year?
- Have I acknowledged those answered prayers and thanked God?
- What prayer requests still need to be prayed through?
- Did I practice the discipline of daily gratitude? If yes, how did that impact my faith and attitude?
- What were some notable blessings, gifts or memories from the year?
- What books impacted my spiritual growth this year? What were the truths and lessons I wanted to remember?
- What books impacted my home this year? (marriage, motherhood, home keeping, etc.) What were the lessons I wanted to incorporate into my home?
- What goals did I set that I achieved?
- What goals didn’t get completed this year? Why?
- What did we do this year to grow and strengthen our marriage?
- What acts of love, respect, service and kindness did I show to my husband?
- What is an area in our marriage do you need to focus on this coming year to continue growing closer together?
- As a family, how did we grow in faith together?
- How would I describe my attitude towards motherhood this year?
- What are the lessons my children learned and what milestones did they reach?
- How where we challenged as a family?
- What acts of love, respect, service and kindness did I show to my children?
- How would I describe my relationships with extended family and friends?
- What acts of hospitality did I participate in?
- How did I show God’s love and grace to those in my community?
- How can I better love those around me and show hospitality in the coming year?
- How would I best describe this year?
Want this as a printable?
Pop your email into the box below and we’ll send your free printable right over!
Do you like to journal and reflect? What may be holding you back or what helps inspire you to write in a journal?
Related posts you might like:
- Put Your Plans Aside and Start Your New Year This Way
- Made to Give Life Seasonal Goal Planner
- How to Get Started with Your Goals in 2020
- How I Set Up My New Prayer Journal
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