Devotional journaling can be a powerful spiritual discipline for Christians seeking to grow deeper in their faith and connect more intimately with God. Through writing out prayers, recording insights from Bible study, and chronicling God’s work in our lives, journaling helps us process our spiritual journey and reminds us of God’s faithfulness over time.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the meaning and benefits of devotional journaling, offer tips for getting started and developing a sustainable habit, suggest creative prompts to enliven your writing, and share how journaling can enrich your walk with God. Whether you are new to the practice or looking to revitalize your current journaling routine, it is my prayer this post will inspire and equip you to experience the blessings of this meaningful spiritual habit.
Journaling has long been a tool used by Christians to record their spiritual growth and connect with God. Writing out our prayers, thoughts, and revelations allows us to process and reflect on our experiences with the Lord. As King David proclaimed, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done” (Psalm 143:5 NKJV). By journaling, we follow David’s example of meditating on God’s presence and activity in our lives.
Devotional journaling offers many powerful benefits:
- Journaling allows us to deepen our relationship with God.
- Writing helps us process our spiritual growth and insights.
- Journaling improves our prayer life.
- Keeping a journal creates a record of God’s faithfulness we can look back on.
- Journaling assists us in meditating on God’s Word.
- The habit equips us to better discern God’s voice and direction.
In the sections below, we will explore how to start journaling, stick with the habit long-term, and use it to enhance our walk with God. But first, let’s lay a Biblical foundation for why journaling is such a meaningful spiritual discipline.
- The Biblical Basis for Journaling
- 1. David Journaled to Record God's Blessings
- 2. The Psalms Were Journal Entries Set to Music
- 3. Jeremiah Documented His Conversation With God
- 4. Paul Let Believers Glimpse His Journals Through His Letters
- 5. Jesus Went Away Alone to Pray With the Father
- 6. God Instructs Us to Teach Our Children About Him
- How to Start Journaling
- Making Journaling a Habit
- Creative Journaling Prompts
- The Blessings of Regular Journaling
The Biblical Basis for Journaling
Scripture gives us many examples of faith heroes who journaled as part of their relationship with God. By examining their practices, we gain wisdom for our own journaling habits today.
1. David Journaled to Record God’s Blessings
King David was a devoted journaler. Throughout the Psalms, he continuously reflects back on God’s goodness. For example:
“Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul” (Psalm 66:16 NKJV).
“Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2 NKJV).
David’s habit of journaling allowed Him to remember and reflect on the way God had moved in his life. We can follow His example by keeping a record of God’s faithfulness to encourage us through difficult seasons. As we journal about the ways God has blessed us, we cultivate a heart of gratitude.
2. The Psalms Were Journal Entries Set to Music
The Psalms themselves were essentially journal entries set to music. They contain David’s prayers, confessions, laments, thanksgivings, and declarations of God’s power and goodness. As believers today, we have the gift of reading David’s spiritual journal. We can model our own journaling off the vulnerability, passion, and depth of the Psalms.
Some great Psalms to study as examples of journaling prayers and praises include:
- Psalm 13: A lament Psalm laying out a raw conversation with God in a time of need.
- Psalm 40: A testimony of God’s deliverance and faithfulness.
- Psalm 103: A worship-filled journal entry celebrating God’s benefits.
3. Jeremiah Documented His Conversation With God
The prophet Jeremiah received direct revelation and dialogues from God. He faithfully recorded these conversations in the Book of Jeremiah. We see his candid journal entries of what God revealed to him such as:
“O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O Lord, correct me, but with justice; Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:23-24 NKJV).
Jeremiah sets an example for us to likewise write out prayerful conversations with God, listening for His voice and revelations to us through the Holy Spirit.
4. Paul Let Believers Glimpse His Journals Through His Letters
Many of Paul’s New Testament letters were essentially excerpts from his spiritual journals and communications. For example, Philippians 3 shares transparent journal-style reflections on his life before Christ in contrast with his new identity in Christ. Philemon reads like a personal journal entry preparing his friend for an upcoming conversation.
As we read Paul’s letters, we gain insight into how to transparently process our relationship with Christ through journaling. Paul’s example shows us we can freely express our emotions, thoughts, and questions in our journal.
5. Jesus Went Away Alone to Pray With the Father
While Jesus did not leave behind a written record of His earthly spiritual journaling, Scripture gives us glimpses of His journaling habits when it describes Him seeking solitary places to pray.
“Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place” (Luke 4:42 NKJV).
“However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:15-16 NKJV).
Jesus set the perfect example of beginning each day connecting with the Father in solitary, devoted prayer. We can follow His model by starting our day writing in our prayer journal and interceding for the day ahead.
6. God Instructs Us to Teach Our Children About Him
While the Bible does not specifically command keeping a devotional journal, God does instruct parents to be diligent in teaching children about His commands and mighty works. Journaling is a powerful tool we can use to fulfill this calling:
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NKJV).
Journaling allows us to document all God is teaching us so that we can in turn impart spiritual wisdom to our children. Leaving a written legacy of our walk with God is a spiritual inheritance for future generations.
Now that we have explored the biblical foundation for journaling, let’s dive into practical tips for starting and sticking with this powerful spiritual habit.
How to Start Journaling
If devotional journaling is a new habit for you, it can feel intimidating to get started. Here are helpful tips to begin:
Pick a Journaling Format
- Bound journal: Invest in a nice hard or soft cover bound journal. Having a designated place for your writing helps cement journaling as a habit.
- Notebook: Use a notebook, legal pad, or other paper option that allows you to easily remove and store entries. This makes journaling more portable.
- Online document: For digital note-takers, use a Word doc, Google doc, the Notes app on your phone, or an online journaling tool like Penzu or Five Minute Journal. Use whatever format you’re most likely to keep up with.
Set a Regular Time
Choose a regular time of day to focus on journaling so it becomes ingrained in your daily rhythm. Ideal times include:
- Early morning: Journal as you drink your coffee before the busyness of your day starts.
- Lunch break: Take 15 minutes mid-day to reflect.
- After prayer/devotions: Journal directly after your dedicated prayer or Bible study time while insights are fresh.
- Before bed: Wind down and process your day with God.
Don’t pressure yourself to write lengthy entries if you are new to journaling. Aim for 5-10 minutes per entry as you begin. It’s best to start small and be consistent than to burn out trying for long daily entries. Over time you can increase your journaling time as it becomes more natural.
Follow the SPIRIT Acronym
Use this simple acronym to guide your journaling sessions:
- S = Scrpture: Record any Bible verses or passages you read along with insights and observations.
- P = Prayers: Write out your prayers, combining worship, gratitude, intercession for others, and requests for yourself.
- I = Insights: Note what God is teaching you, areas He is revealing about your identity in Christ, next steps of obedience, etc.
- R = Reflections: Process experiences in your relationship with God and record how you are growing spiritually.
- I = Inspiration: Journal things God speaks to your heart and any inspiration that comes to mind about your calling.
- T = Testimonies: Recount blessings, breakthroughs, provision, healing, answered prayers, and record God’s faithfulness.
Making Journaling a Habit
The key to making devotional journaling stick is having a plan in place to form it into a habit. Consider incorporating these best practices:
Dedicate time to journal every day, even if some days you only have time to jot down a few sentences. Skipping days can easily lead you to abandon the habit altogether. If you fall off, simply start back the next day.
Use Journaling Prompts
Pre-made journaling prompts can give guidance and inspiration when you feel stuck. Prompts help break writer’s block and get your creative juices flowing. See the Journaling Prompts section below for lots of ideas to try.
Keep it Close By
Make sure your journal is visible and within arm’s reach so you remember to do it. If you journal digitally, keep the document open on your computer or save it to your home screen. Out of sight means out of mind.
Share your goal of daily journaling with a spiritually mature friend. Check in regularly and ask them to encourage you when your motivation dips. Sharing the commitment amplifies your dedication.
Pray Over Your Journal
Ask God to give you revelation and consistency through the spiritual discipline of journaling. Inviting Him into the process will confirm it as holy time with Him that should not be skipped or hurried through.
Read Back Over Old Entries
Taking time to read previous journal entries reminds you of how faithful God has been in the past. Seeing how God has guided your journey fuels you to keep attuned to His voice through regular time journaling.
Creative Journaling Prompts
If staring down a blank page fails to spark ideas for your journaling sessions, prompts and questions can help stimulate spiritual reflections. Try out these prompts if you need inspiration:
- What is a truth about God’s nature or character you need to dwell on today? How does remembering this aspect of God’s heart encourage you?
- Summarize your current season of life in 1-2 sentences. Then write a prayer asking God to reveal His purposes for you in this season.
- What is a practical way you can apply one of the Bible verses you read today?
- What recurring negative thought pattern, false belief, fear, insecurity, or “tape” are you asking God to renew your mind about?
- What fruit of the Spirit do you desire God to continue cultivating in your life?
- How did God demonstrate His faithfulness, provision, or miraculous power in your life recently?
- What act of service and kindness can you extend to someone in need this week?
- Ask God to bring someone to mind that may need prayer or encouragement. Now intercede a prayer for them.
- What spiritual gift(s) has God blessed you with? How can you use your gifts to serve the church?
- What sin do you need to repent and turn from today? How can you actively put off this sin and put on righteousness?
- Is there a next step of obedience God is calling you towards? Write it down as a commitment.
- How did your time reading and studying the Bible impact your faith today? What key insights spoke to you?
- Take a moment to still your soul before God’s presence. Listen for what He wants to speak to your heart then record it.
These are just a handful of the endless questions and prompts that can spark deeper spiritual journaling sessions. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to the most meaningful reflections each day.
The Blessings of Regular Journaling
committing to regular devotional journaling cultivates greater intimacy with God and fuels your spiritual growth. Here are just some of the blessings that come from diligently journaling:
Develop a Deeper Prayer Life
Writing prayers naturally leads us into deeper, more meaningful conversations with God. We move past surface level prayer requests into vulnerably sharing our hearts. Journaling prayers also helps keep our minds focused rather than racing to new topics.
Receive Greater Clarity from God
Journaling creates space to process our thoughts and emotions before God. As we unpack all that’s on our minds, the Spirit can then speak truth, wisdom and direction into our hearts and reveal lies we are believing or areas of growth needed.
Grow in Understanding of the Bible
When we journal about the Bible verses we read, we cement God’s Word in our hearts and gain fresh perspective on applying it. The Word comes alive more as we interact with it through journaling.
Remember God’s Faithfulness
Documenting prayers, breakthroughs, acts of provision, healing, and other blessings creates a gratitude journal reminding us of God’s miracles over the years of our spiritual walk. This fuels continued trust in God.
Discern Destructive Patterns
Journaling increases self-awareness as we identify negative thought patterns, behaviors, and strongholds that limit our freedom in Christ. We can target and overcome these through journaling.
Receive Guidance and Revelation
We tune our spiritual ears to hear God’s voice more clearly as we regularly create space to listen and then record what He reveals. Journaling helps us capture and recall His specific direction.
Grow Closer to God
Just as consistent conversation cultivates greater intimacy between friends, so too does consistent spiritual journaling nurture increased intimacy and connection with God. It anchors us in His loving presence.
Leave a Legacy for Future Generations
When we record the activity of God in our lives through spiritual journaling, we leave a living legacy of faith that can inspire and educate our children and grandchildren long after we are gone.
I hope this comprehensive overview inspires you to start journaling or reinvigorates your current journaling habit. Though it takes dedication, devotional journaling is one of the most rewarding spiritual disciplines. Even just a few minutes a day can reconnect your heart with God’s, fuel your purpose, and leave a lasting faith legacy. Experience for yourself the blessings of meeting with God pen in hand!