New Beginnings: Keeping a Spiritual Journal
We often begin the new year by setting goals based on what we would like to achieve or accomplish. This serves to motivate us and give purpose to our journey. In times of great uncertainty, perhaps our most important goal is noted in Isaiah 55:6: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while His is near.”
Learning to listen to God is not achieved by occasional encounters in prayer or by rushing through a set of verses each day with no real thought or meditation. This approach is like trying to communicate with a teenager “on the run.” The body may be in position, but the mind and heart are not. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27) It is through prayerfully meditating on scripture that we learn to recognize that voice.
Journaling—the writing of insights, truths, and understandings revealed through prayer and studying the Bible—can be beneficial in reaching the goal of deeper intimacy with God. I recently published Reflections on God’s Promises and a journal to accompany it. While journals can be used for many purposes, this one was designed to encourage a focus on the promises within God’s Word and their application to your daily life.
You will find suggestions in the introduction of the God Promises Journal for using a journal effectively, but getting started is often the most difficult step. These additional tips may be helpful:
… Set your own timetable for writing in your journal. The pages are undated for this purpose. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and be sensitive to His quiet nudges as you ponder scriptures and their meaning in context with other verses.
… Choose a themed verse from Reflections on God’s Promises, the Promise Journal, or other resources. (There are 60 blank pages in the journal and 73 verses in both the book and journal.)
… Copy the chosen scripture at the top of the page. Identify the promise stated and write it out in your own words. For example: “God has promised...”
… Use a Bible concordance or other reference to search for additional verses related to that promise. Make note of any revealed truths, challenges, or insights gained through the Holy Spirit’s leading.
… Focus on the promise. Write about a time when you experienced it or have seen it fulfilled in another person’s life. Write a thank-you prayer to God for this promise and the other promises He has made.
… On one of the blank pages at the end of the journal, note the promise and the date it was identified, the key verse, and any resource used. This will give you a running list of the promises you have studied. Remember, “head knowledge plus heart knowledge leads to understanding.”
Fatigued, discouraged, defeated,
I came to God’s throne in prayer;
Humbled, needy, and empty,
I sought comfort and encouragement there.
As I pondered His Word and yielded my heart,
I was mindful of His words to me,
And my perspective was altered, my attitude changed,
And His purposes I more clearly could see.
And the burdens that had weighed me down
Were lifted as I pondered His care,
And strength and joy were renewed by His grace
With a greater desire to, with others, His love share.
Emerging with confidence and purpose aligned,
Having been transformed by His power within,
I was ready to face life’s battles once more,
And in His power, each victory to win.