You may not think of journaling as a discipline, but I’m convinced we need to be regularly writing about what God is doing in our lives. There are some simple ways anyone can get started with this discipline—including ways that may not feel like journaling at first:
Each day, write a brief summary of what the Lord shows you during your quiet time.
The entry doesn’t need to be long. In fact, it can be one or two sentences. Here are two examples from my own quiet time recently:
• I’m reminded today in Exodus 32 about the silliness of following idols that are lifeless. I confess my idols to the Lord today.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:17 challenges me to be more thankful today, no matter what I face.
Each day, write the most important prayer request you have.
We can tell a lot about the state of our heart by our prayers, and it’s good for us to put those prayers in writing. Not only does writing the prayer request help us to stay focused as we pray, but it also has a way of lessening the burden of that prayer. Be sure to record when God answers your prayer—and thank Him!
Send a weekly email or text about what the Lord is doing in your life.
All of us can journal about God’s goodness to us, even if what we say is simply, “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or His children begging for bread” (Psalm 37:25). Send that email to a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor—or even a non-believer you think would be receptive to it. Be a witness through your journaling.
Write a letter, note, or email to your children or grandchildren—even those who are adults—explaining how you became a believer.
I’m amazed how many family members have never heard the testimonies of their believing parents and grandparents. They don’t know how we became believers, where we were baptized, or what joy that conversion brought. Writing that letter, note, or email now will allow you to journal about God’s goodness, and it will leave your family members with a written memory.
Journal in the margins of your Bible as you read.
This year, I’m doing just that, and my plan is to give that marked-up, journaled Bible as a Christmas gift later in the year. The margins of that Bible include exclamations (“God, You’re so good!), questions (“Why am I prone to wandering, Lord?”), and insights (“The disciples were so fickle, yet the Lord used them anyway—just the way He uses me even though I don’t always trust Him”).
You may choose other topics to journal about, but whatever you do, start somewhere. Journaling is an incredible tool that God can use to help you remember His goodness and testify to others how He can be at work in their lives, as well.
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. For more from Lawless, visit chucklawless.com.