Some Thoughts on Journaling

I find myself regularly reflecting the discipline of journaling. Although I love pens, college-ruled paper, and Mead Five-Star composition notebooks (I usually stock up several at a time), I can say without hesitation the primary reason I practice keeping a journal is the spiritual benefit I derive from such a discipline. Here are a few:

A Journal Gives Me a Place Record Observations and Insights From Everyday Life. Whether is an insight I might have into a specific situation that I want to preserve for later use or encouragement, or something I learn from someone else that I find spiritually beneficial, it is easy to pull my journal off the shelf at the end of the day and record that particular impression or piece of counsel. Sometimes, when I cannot get to my journal until the end of the day, I will write myself a little “prompt” on a sticky note so I can record what I learned when I finally get home. Insights gleaned from sermons go here as well.

With a Journal I Am Able to Record Observations and Insights into Scripture. When I am reading Scripture or studying a passage, and I see something I have not seen before, or if the Lord opens the meaning of a passage to my mind, I record what I have learned in my journal. These thoughts and insights can be used for future personal encouragement and in teaching and counseling as well.

A Journal Gives Me a Place Where I Can Meditate on Scripture. This is slightly different than the last comment in that this is where I purposefully write about a passage for a sustained amount of time. I find this method of mediation extremely beneficial because it keeps my mind from wandering and allows me to focus for several minutes on that passage. As I write about the passage, questions arise. As I answer those questions, more questions may arise and I go deeper and deeper into the truth found in that passage.

With a Journal I Can Record Important Events and My Interpretation of Those Events. I also like to record significant events that occur in my life so that I can look back and be reminded of specific ways the Lord has been faithful to me, has instructed me, disciplined me, or encouraged me. We are commanded to remember the wonders God has done (Psalm 105:5). A journal is a practical way to help us do that.

My Journal is the Place Where I Record my Thoughts About What I am Reading. Often, excerpts the books that I am currently reading will find their way into my journal. I will either write a helpful passage from a book without making comment, or I will use my journal to thoughtfully interact with what the author is saying. This practice, I find, keeps me from reading passively, and, I think, makes my reading more profitable.

I Can Use my Journal to Help Me Evaluate and Maintain Discipline in Other Areas. Whether it is prayer, Bible reading, exercise, eating, or evangelism, I can use my journal to help me appraise my progress (or lack thereof) in these and other important areas of my life.

Writing in my Journal Helps Me Think More Carefully, Deeply and Accurately. This benefit can not be overstated. I do not know about you, but I am prone to lazy, imprecise, superficial, hazy thinking. Keeping a journal helps me to think more clearly and with greater precision because I am forced to put my thoughts in logical order and examine them for accuracy and coherence.

These are a few reasons why I regularly pursue the discipline of journaling. If you do not currently keep a journal, perhaps you will consider it. I trust it will be beneficial for you as well.

Photo Credit: Ben AuBuchon

4 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Journaling”

  1. Hi,

    Just came across your blog via Justin Taylor’s, I’ll be adding you to my Newsfire list!

    Appreciated these notes on journalling, also noted your post on note cards a la Jay Adams system. I do a bit of journalling but see the advantage of the card system as well. Tell me how do you work both systems, I ask that not to suggest you can’t but genuinely to find out how you do it. You see I’m thinking a lot of the stuff I would put in cards I presently put in my journal.

    Certainly as far as noting down quotes etc…and for finding old material the cards are surely out in front…so basically do you find the card and journal harmonise or conflict with each other?

    Hope that makes sense!

    Paul

  2. Great to find a fellow journaler. I’ve been keeping a journal for about the past 12 months – since I started considering commencing a 2 year ministry apprenticeship. Just this week I looked back over my fears and reflections from a year ago, and there’s much to give thanks to God for. I’ve found a journal a great way to remember the past, and see how I’ve grown and how God has been good to me.

  3. Hi! I really like your blog and find it to be very informative and helpful. Journaling is so important for us writers but, I’m so bad about keeping up with it on a regular basis. Anyways good post!

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