One of my favorite spiritual disciplines is journaling. Journaling has helped me grow in my walk with God tremendously. In this post, I’m going to share 3 specific ways you can use journaling for spiritual growth. These spiritual journaling exercises you can use to grow in your faith too! Plus I have a FREE printable journaling sheet for you, so keep reading!
Now I know what you may be asking, “Where is journaling in the Bible? How is this a spiritual discipline? Isn’t this one of those personality types of things?”
Those are good questions and we’re going to talk about them because it’s true that some people naturally gravitate towards journaling while others do not.
And while the Bible doesn’t specifically command us to “journal” like it does cultivating prayer or other disciplines, journaling does aid us in biblical obedience. For this reason, I encourage you to try journaling, even if it isn’t something you normally would choose.
First, let’s understand what it means to “journal.” Obviously, a journal (NOUN) is a digital or physical notebook or diary for recording information. For the Christian, a journal can be a place where you record how God speaks to you, answers your prayers, moves in your life, as well as your emotions and responses to life. It can be where you document thoughts, lessons, questions, prayers, and more. So journaling (VERB) is HOW you document or record such things.
How journaling is useful for a believer
Journaling is a tool that can help us fulfill other commands and examples in Scripture. For example, journaling can aid in each of these things we see in Scripture:
- Understanding and examining ourselves (II Corinthians 13:5 II Peter 1:10-11 Romans 12:3)
- Recognizing, remembering, and preserving a record of God’s deeds (Psalm 77:11-12 Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Psalm 102:18)
- Meditation (Psalm 1:1-3 II Timothy 2:7 Joshua 1:8)
- Articulating what is in the heart (Psalm 51:6 Psalm 62:8 Psalm 45:1)
- Following the example of recording how God speaks to you through His word (Deuteronomy 17:18 Jeremiah 30:2, many of the Psalms)
As you can see, journaling is a way to slow down, be observant, record thoughts and discoveries, keep a record of God’s work in your life, and so much more. It is such a handy tool!
So let’s talk about specific ways to use journaling for spiritual growth.
3 Ways to Use Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline:
Bible Reading Journaling
This is a very easy way to journal. It involves simply making notes about your daily Bible reading.
I always start in prayer, asking God to speak to me through His word. Next, I read my passage for the day. Sometimes the passage is short if I am crunched for time; at other times it can be several chapters. I never go in thinking about what I’m going to journal- I simply focus on reading and understanding what I’m reading.
To do this, I will underline what jumps out to me in the passage as I’m reading through it. Once I am done reading, I’ll go back and re-read the underlined passages and complete my daily journal.
While I don’t have one “set” way of journaling, here’s what I typically include:
1. Re-write the passages that stood out to me or summarize what stood out to me in my own words.
2. Share why it stood out to me.
3. Record how I think God is speaking to me through the passage and how He wants me to apply it to my life.
4. My response to God ( my prayer based on the passage).
To get started, why not grab our Bible Reading Journal here and choose one of these passages below to read for your time today:
• James 1
• Isaiah 40
• Colossians 3
• Romans 4
• Psalm 37
See how addictive God’s word becomes with this simple practice!
Another way I love to use journaling is with truth journaling. This is a term coined by my friend Barb Raveling and is based on the admonition of Philippians 4:8. She shares the story behind truth journaling and more details on how to do it here but basically, you begin by choosing a recent event (in the past week or so) you’d like to journal about.
I find it helpful to use my emotions as signals. For example, if I felt anxious about a conversation I had with a relative, that can be a sign I need to apply God’s truth to some area in my life. Or if I felt insecurity, shame, or perhaps felt lingering anger at my husband, that is a sign I need to apply God’s truth to an aspect of my thinking.
Then you start by writing down all the thoughts that come to mind surrounding that event. Just freestyle write here, you’re simply recording how you feel or think about the situation.
Next, number each of your thoughts.
Finally, identify truth statements for each of those thoughts. Some may be truthful thoughts; some may not be. The point of the exercise is to identify thoughts that are not true and deliberately bring them in line with God’s word.
Daily Reflection Journal
Journaling for spiritual growth has been done by the saints all throughout history. We have the benefit of reading many writings from others and can learn of their journaling habits.
One such person was George Whitefield. Although Mr. Whitefield was known for his passionate preaching, his private practice was to journal every day. At the end of each day, he journaled in two parts, using two pages.
On the first page, he recorded the specific activities and events of his day, then he evaluated each of these events according to a set of questions he had written for himself. On the second page, he gave free expression to his innermost thoughts, longings, feelings, motives, and praise. He used this as a way of searching his truest motivations and holding himself accountable for being conformed to the image of Christ. He didn’t cut himself any slack and confessed his shortcomings to God.
I’ve used something very similar to George Whitefield’s style of journaling for many years. As intense as this may be for some of us, I do think there is something to be learned, even if you choose not to do this level of journaling on a regular basis 😊 Try it and see what aspects you find useful.
I’ve provided a FREE daily reflection journal template here. Feel free to download and use it~ I find this journaling exercise very powerful!
Before you go, ask yourself which of these exercises you can adapt and incorporate into your life? What do you like from these 3 suggestions and why? What do you NOT like and why? These questions can help you find a journal habit that serves you best!