Words reveal, challenge and inspire
August 30, 2022
Many of us probably kept a journal at some point growing up. I know I did. And when I look back at them, I read entries about what I did, what I ate and the time I went to bed on any given day. I’m not sure why I ever thought that last piece of information about my fascinating 10-year-old life would be important for any future reading. It seems, though, taking inventory of our days comes naturally to us.
The practice of spiritual journaling stems from that same instinct to catalog our days. But rather than make note of our eating and sleeping activities, the focus is on the deeper reality of our relationship with the Divine. As daunting as that might seem, it doesn’t have to be. Taking stock of your spiritual life can be a powerful tool that helps you recognize the people who are allowing you to move farther in your walk with God or, conversely, those things that are blocking that journey. And while you can invest in a fancy journal or a special pen, any old notebook and ballpoint pen will work just fine.
Start your spiritual journaling by picking a time of day that works best for you and that can be somewhat consistent. If you are a morning person, take time to write about the hopes and aspirations for the day. If you prefer journaling in the evening, walk through your day in your mind and note where you were aware of God being revealed in the people or situations you encountered.
Depending on your own style and personality, you may find it easy to write in prose, or you might prefer to make bullet points. You may even just doodle with words or images. If you find yourself with writer’s block, you may choose to base your journaling on passages of Scripture, using key words or verses as writing prompts. For example, select a passage and read it a few times, allowing thoughts to come to the front of your mind. Then, write them down. Write about what the passage means to you or what it might be saying to a particular situation you face. Perhaps there is some question that comes to mind, or the passage challenges you in some way. Whatever you write, do so freely and without judgment. This isn’t an academic paper, so you don’t need to develop a thesis or come to any neat conclusions.
Like any spiritual practice, the rewards of spiritual journaling come through the intentional slowing down of our lives. Each time we engage in the act of putting pen to paper we slow our minds and give that space to be present to God and God to us.
Often as I read back through previous journal entries, I am heartened by the ways that God is revealed and reminded of both the joys and struggles that God led me through. And these spiritual journaling entries are a lot more interesting than those telling me what time I went to bed!
The Rev. Dr. Maureen Paterson is associate pastor at Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
Today’s Focus: Practice of spiritual journaling
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Dee Decker, Acting Director of Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Chelsea De Lisser, Retreat Center Manager, Stony Point Center, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
We thank you, O God, that nothing can separate us from your great love. We thank you for knitting us together not on the basis of bricks and mortar but through the blood, sweat and tears of Jesus Christ. Keep us faithful and let us not grow weary in doing good. In Jesus’ name. Amen.