Why I Keep A Journal

Thankfully I don’t keep a journal for an English teacher, a critical editor or future blog posts. You would likely scoff at much of what I write. But I will let you in on a little secret, I write for me. My journal keeping is a devotional exercise, through which I hone my communication skills with my heavenly Father, it is a spiritual discipline.

This morning I reflected on why I continue to attempt a regular practice of journaling.

Writing clarifies – it’s well worth the effort of putting words onto a physical page. As words take shape in ink, they somehow become more genuine and take on real meaning. Writing brings amazing clarity to the randomness of the thought-storms circulating in my mind. Usually I answer two questions: A. What are you doing in my life Lord? (aka What are you trying to say to me?) B. How am I responding?

Writing confirms – prophets were often told to write down the visions they saw. I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me…(Habakkuk 2:1). Journaling is a time of looking and listening, as much as it is recording. Sometimes God speaks by putting images in my mind. Writing brings life to what I see with my spiritual eyes. It confirms there to be a reality bigger than me. Ephesians tells us that our hearts have eyes (Eph 1:18). Try journaling you may discover and confirm this to be true.

Writing connects – the most exhilarating part of the exercise is when I write in my margin “V.O.G.” This acronym stands for “Voice of God.” Years ago a wise pastor told me that he never concluded a time of journaling without this entry. “V.O.G.” is a point on the page that marked a change in his writing to the first person. So I adopted the practice (for over 13 years now). In “V.O.G.” section, I write as if my thoughts are God’s thoughts for me. It is amazing what happens. Though the entries are as varied as the species of fish in the ocean, my Father always begins each section in the same way: Samuel, my son, I love you. He always calls me by my full name and he always tells me he loves me. That to me is enough to fuel my entire day. Sometimes He continues on, with affirmations of His presence or protection – I am with you, I watch over you, I have assigned angels to you and your family, BIG ones. Other times He gently rebukes – my son, take care to keep yourself pure. It may only be a few sentences like this, but I wouldn’t miss the connection with my Father and His strong loving voice any day of the week.

Throughout my day, I can drift from away from the immediacy of those early morning intimate moments with my Father. I may start believing untruths about myself or my circumstances. Rereading my journal’s “V.O.G.” section reconnects me instantly back to what He told me to be true.

In what ways have you benefited from the discipline of journaling?

12 Responses to Why I Keep A Journal

  1. Seriously considering to start a journal. I feel I need to corner a bit more who I really am, who God really is – to write it is the best way to make his presence practical. Thanks!

    • Awesome Nathan. It takes a bit of time, ink, and paper. Be realistic with your time goals. Start once or twice every week for 15-30 minutes…if you run out of time and find yourself enjoying the exercise add a few more days. Don’t do what I do sometimes and set the commitment level too high, but then get discouraged and quit. On a very busy day, I may only have 5 minutes to journal. But those might be the best 5 minutes of my day.

  2. Thanks for the great blog, Sam. I have been journaling on and off for around 10 years now myself (mostly on). I really love your V.O.G. section – personalizing what God is saying to us in prayer. There is such a power in articulating our thoughts and interactions with God & His Word.
    God became real to us earthlings when “the Word became and made His dwelling among us.” His Son and HIs plan became evident to us, not just an idea or abstract understanding. Through journaling, I get to hammer out my fears & apprehensions, celebrate victories,and work through failures. I get to be “real” with God and not hold back as the pen rolls out the ink.
    Thanks for reminding me how important it is to write to God from the heart and to listen intently to him with our ears.

  3. Hey Sam,

    The V.O.G thing is an awesome idea. I’m not much of a journaler and I don’t know why, because when I do it I always feel so uplifted with a sense of accomplishment. I know when I reflect on the few journal entries I have done, it serves as a reminder of where I’ve come in my walk with God and acts as a reminder of God’s promises to me. So that when I look back, I can affirm that “yeah, God did do that in my life.”
    Thanks for the encouraging words, and challenging me to journal again!

  4. When I get busy (like now) I tend to let journaling slip off my to do list, but I’m encouraged again to keep at it! I so often benefit from being able to look back and see what God has been saying. And the idea that (shock!) I can even just take 5 minutes to do it? Might just help me not drop it during this hectic season (that I do really want to remember.)

    That’s one thing I like about the SHAPE journal acronym: Scripture, HEAR, Application, Prayer, Exalt. I like that it includes the listening part. I do often seem to listen better with a pen in my hand… : ) Thanks for the reminder.

  5. God always calls me by my full name, too. I used to hate my name because of the negative memories i associated with it. people who really hurt me when i was younger used to twist my name and mock me, and i was only ever called by my full name by my parents when i was in trouble. but God likes to heal and redeem and restore every part of us–including our names. he’s really detailed like that, eh?

  6. Pingback: Advice To Live By In 2012 | Sam Dick

Leave a Reply