I believe that it is important to develop certain disciplines in your life. One of the most difficult disciplines for me has been the discipline of journaling.
I’ve been a sporadic journaler ever since college. It’s been hit or miss, on again off again for most of my life since then. I start big, with grand intentions, but it always seemed to fizzle out after a few weeks.
Until a couple of years ago.
When I attended CIY Wilderness for the first time in 2009, I started journaling more consistently, and I’ve managed to stick with it better than ever before.
I believe that this is because I’ve discovered and become convinced of several incredible benefits of regular journaling.
Here are ten of my main reasons for journaling:
Journaling helps keep me spiritually fed
There are a lot of aspects that I include in my journal, many of which help my spiritual growth. I use my journal to record my thoughts on spiritual matters, to track my growth spiritually. I take notes from sermons, jot down ideas and thoughts from my daily devotions that stand out to me. I quote passages from books that speak to me, so that I can come back to them again and again.
Journaling helps me to remember what God has said
When I sense God speaking to me, I try to write it down in detail in my journal. When specific passages speak strongly into my life, I include them in my journal. When I hear sermons and messages that stick in my mind, I record notes in the pages of my journal. I know my mind well enough to know that if I depend on my memory, I will fail to remember something God has instructed in my life. Journaling helps me to remember.
Journaling helps me remember what God has done
I often list out prayer needs and requests in my journal. Many times I write out my prayers, too, so I can pray more coherently. I know that God understands my prayers regardless, but writing them out helps me to think, and pray, more clearly. And when God answers a prayer, I return to that page and add the date and manner in which it was answered. My journal has become a record of my walk with God.
Journaling provides a clear legacy for my children
One day, after I’ve passed from this life, my children will have my journals. They will be able to look at those pages and say “This is who Dad was.” My journals record my spiritual growth, my strengths and joys, my weaknesses and sorrows. My prayer is that my children know me intimately, even now. But someday, the legacy contained within those pages will be a help and encouragement to them.
Journaling helps me to give out of the overflow of God in my life
I often teach lessons to the teens in my ministry out of the insights gleaned from my journal. Many times, the things I write in my journal make their way into my lessons and sermons, communion meditations and family devotions.
Journaling helps strengthen my writing skills
By writing out my thoughts, journaling help me to be more clear and concise. While I don’t specifically use journaling for this purpose, I have noticed a marked improvement in my writing since becoming a more consistent journaler.
Journaling reduces stress in my life
With increased focus, and reduced scatter, journaling helps me to reduce stress levels in my life to more manageable levels. Journaling helps me to process thoughts and emotions in ways that help me grow through them. And journaling allows me to vent frustrations without taking them out on another person. This helps me to detach myself from a situation and let go of the past.
Journaling helps provide healing in my life
By writing things down instead of holding on to them, I can see God working in my life to heal relationships and circumstances in my life. In a way, journaling acts as my own private counselor, helping me to maintain balance in my life.
Journaling helps me to live life to the fullest
In John 10:10, Jesus explains that he has come for this very reason: to provide abundant life. Journaling helps me to accomplish this. By being intentional about my spiritual life, recording God’s guidance and his action in my life, I am able to see Jesus’ promise more clearly in my life.
Journaling helps train myself in godliness
1 Timothy 4:7 instructs us to train ourselves in godliness. Journaling helps me to accomplish this. As I write down the things that God has shown and taught me, I can gauge my spiritual growth easily. I can review my past and see my improvement, or see where I need to improve.
As you can see, there are many excellent benefits to consistent journaling. If you haven’t ever tried this discipline, I fully recommend that you do so, and that you start as soon as you can.
There are many excellent resources out there for journaling. Here are a few:
- The Ecosystem Journal. If being eco-friendly is your thing, this might be the journal for you. Designed much like a Moleskine, the Ecosystem Journal is completely made from recycled material. I reviewed this journal here.
- Field Notes Brand Journals. Field Notes journals are smaller in size than what I normally use for journaling, but fit perfectly in a pocket. I keep several on hand, and usually carry a couple with me at all times. Read about them here.
- Moleskine Journals. This is my standby. I use these almost exclusively for my spiritual journal. A few years ago, my wife and kids gave me a leather cover for my Moleskine from Renaissance Art. I call it my Hobbit Book.
There are literally thousands of options out there. None of these fit your needs? Find one that does. The point is not that you journal the exact same way that I do. The point is that you journal. I suggest that you start today, if you haven’t already.
If you journal, what benefits would you add to my list? If you don’t, what is keeping you from developing this habit? You can share your thoughts in the comments section below.