Ladies and gentlemen, start or restart journaling in 2022.
How I Began and Your Perfect Beginning
I began journaling in earnest after attending a Spiritual Renewal Seminar in the late 1970’s when Brian Bailey, a prophet and teacher of the Word, talked about the need to keep a record of what you learned as you meditate on scriptures. He also mentioned how speaking in tongues before you read and meditate on Scriptures would give you more revelation.
I began in earnest to take notes of spiritual lessons and insights I received as I systematically read, studied and meditated on God’s word. My journaling journey had begun. I did not know that as the years passed it would get deeper and wider to include far more than records of scripture lessons. To him who has much more would be given. As I started acting on what I know and have, God added to it, deepened it, broadened it, enriched it.
The perfect beginning is not to read about everything about journaling before beginning. God’s idea of a perfect beginning is to start where you are and trust him to bring you where he wants you to be. I know it is already the first week of January of 2022. You may wish you started on 1 January with the perfect journal book – paper or digital – and know exactly how and what you are going to write and how to annotate or store it. Just do it with what you know now and have at hand now. This is the perfect start.
You do not have to write every day, even though this would be good. It could be weekly. It could even be as and when there is something that is memorable or moving or meaningful. At times you could draw or sketch or keep an audio recording if that is what you are more comfortable with rather than writing.
Why Bother About Journaling
Remembering is an important part of our Christian spirituality. The patriarchs erected special altars at places where the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob covenanted with them, or encountered and delivered them in significant ways. Ancient Israel was told to commemorate various rituals at a few annual feasts. The major one is the Passover, so that they remember that it was God who delivered them from slavery in Egypt, and that the event marked their identity as a people of God dedicated to bring his praise to the nations of the earth. We who live after the death of Christ and walk the Calvary road are commanded to remember Christ every time we eat and drink at the Lord’s Table. It marks us as the new covenant people of God, saved by his redeeming blood. This is something God would want us to do today too. Just as we keep images and videos of beautiful memories of things and events and people we love, we should keep visual and audio cues to jog the memory of the greatness, tenderness and workings of God in our life.
One Journal, Many Blessings
Here is a personal list of the many ways journaling has blessed me. I am sure there are many more that readers have personally experienced and I urge you to share some of your experiences with us by using the comment box. A blessing shared is a blessing doubled!
First on my list is that journaling gave me a record of answers to prayers. I wrote some of the things I prayed for, especially when I was fasting and prayer. I have seen so many of these prayers answered. If I had not recorded them, they would have been forgotten, and I would not have been impacted by the link between my specific prayers and God’s answers. Some prayers were answered quickly, many after months, even years, others not at all. This mixed record built my faith in God and to believe that simple faithful prayers does set into motion the invisible power of God.
Making Sense and Finding God
When I reviewed parts of my journal or the entries of a whole year, I could see themes and repeated patterns that indicated to me what God seemed to have said to me and done in my life. I would not have been able to receive certain insights into God’s activity if I had no such records in my journal. It was like putting together pieces of jigsaw to make sense and find God in the midst of my life.
I found that journal entries during retreats were particularly detailed and significant. I suppose in a silent retreat, I was free from normal preoccupations, responsibilities and distractions, and was able to spend more time in prayer and reflection. Therefore, I was able to pick up more things that was going on deep within my soul and scriptures came alive in a more impactful way. I could hear more clearly from God and his work in my soul seemed more intense and deeper. Usually, I would make a silent retreat when I was at some crossroad or tension point and this me seek God more intensely and those who seek him will find him.
Light in the Dark
Reflection and the very act of writing helped to crystalize and clarify my thoughts, feelings and desires. I might begin confused and unclear but as I wrote things seemed less muddy and murky and by the time I have written several pages it seemed that some light had begun to shine through my dark and cloudy heart. This is heightened when I wrote the journal entry in the first person to God, as in a letter to God telling him what was going in and around me.
Sometimes I would also speak in tongues for a while, ask God for interpretation, and then wrote out what came to mind by faith without censorship. Only after the inspiration ceased would I go back and read what words God had for me and make a judgment then. It was surprising how often that encouragement and comfort came from these spontaneous prompts from the Spirit-influenced heart. They often reflected God’s heart.
Ideas, Insights, Emotions
During prayer, ideas and insights about church ministry, decisions, sermons and blogposts would come and having a journal at hand made it convenient to jot these down and later after further judgment and prayer, act on them and develop and deliver them. Some of these ideas came from a creative centre, and I knew I had to give God credit when I was complimented or affirmed for them. The journal at hand and the habit of casting your net in prayer and retrieving and jotting your catch, is a habit that blessed me and my ministry so much.
Writing a journal slowed me down long enough to sit and identify, label and express my deeper emotions, affections and desires. I was poor at this. It took me a long time to learn and even now I feel I am wearing an L plate. What I found was that if I could do it in my journal, it made it somewhat easier for me to express it to my friends and loved ones. It helped me to be vulnerable and authentic in Christ, and to deepen my friendship with God, friends and loved ones.
Journaling was therapeutic as it gave me an outlet to express my deepest truths, secrets, hopes and frustrations. It was health for my soul and clarification for my mind as I muddle my way through hurts and regrets in the past, perplexities of the present, and anxieties about the future. The best thing is the journal does not talk back or criticize or judge me. It had a gentle and patient touch that healed.
Journaling gave me writing practice. I write well by writing much. Practice does make perfect. The search for the right words. The clarification of ideas, arranging or organizing them the right way to express them meaningfully and clearly. Simply writing regularly in my journal improved my writing.
Comment & Share
Well, this was what I have listed and noted off the cuff. Definitely not exhaustive, or sufficiently deep. If you can help enrich the ideas mentioned and enrich our discussion here, do not hesitate to add your two cents worth to the comment box, and share this content with others if it helped you.