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Journaling as a spiritual discipline

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

One of my missionary heroes is Jim Elliott. Reading his biography in The Shadow of the Almighty both demonstrated the value of and challenged me in the practice of “daily” journaling.

Journaling is a spiritual discipline. It helps you shape your thoughts. It records your progress, or lack thereof. It visualizes the structure of what you are reading, thinking, doing, what events and people and Scripture impact your life. It is a chronicle of your life — however simply recorded in the journal. Without a journal it would be impossible for me to recount how and what God did and what I’ve learned through life. Much would be lost.

In recent years, my devotional journal has also become my “day book”; that is, I also record highlights of the day or days or week: work activities, contacts, phone call notes, etc. That, too, has proven to be an invaluable record for future reference.

As I fill up one journal book, I go back and read pretty much everything written in order to transfer to the new journal the most important highlights and significant information to which I may want in hand into the foreseeable future. So, that process or review and re-recording of highlights becomes a golden opportunity for reflection and thanksgiving upon God’s goodness and His inimitable Hand in my life.

Below I’ve condensed an article from somewhere (I don’t remember where I got it. A men’s ministry called “The Journey”, I think), written apparently by a Bryan Craig about journaling. Enjoy!


Journaling 101

On our Journey to Intimacy with Christ, one of the key components in helping men get to this place is Journaling. This is a foreign concept to most men. They either think this practice is something for women, who have kept diaries since they were little girls or [worse] …

How do I get started?

You simply need a pen, some paper and your Bible. You can use a spiral notebook or you can use a fancy leather-bound journal. It’s entirely up to you. However, we discourage the use of an electronic journal. … Remember, this is not a creative writing exercise nor is this an English assignment where grammar and spelling matter. It’s not poetry or storytelling. … Some men are the creative types who love to write long sentences with imagery and analogies, whereas some men feel more comfortable organizing their thoughts into Bullet points. It doesn’t matter. It’s your journal. All that matters is that you are putting your heart on paper.

A Letter to God

… The hardest part of journaling is getting started. Most men look at that blank sheet of paper, and feel it amply represents what is going on in their brain. They can’t think of anything to write- they go blank. Start by writing a letter to God. … Tell Him what’s on your heart. Tell Him about your struggle with journaling. Tell Him what you’re worried about. Tell Him “Thank You” for the blessings in your life. Tell Him your dreams, your fears. Many have described journaling as nothing more than another form of Prayer. However, there’s something about writing it all down. …

A Historical Record

Another way to start journaling is the “Lewis and Clark” approach. You probably know this by now, but life is an adventure. … As with all journal entries, write the date at the top of the page, to give each day its place it time. [Write] about what’s going on in your life. Write down your day’s events and the challenges you’re facing right now. It’s strange, but it helps to sort out your thoughts on paper. … Your Faith will grow, as you take time to reflect upon your life and how God truly is working things out and guiding your steps. Many times, as you begin to write down these miracles and “God sightings” in your own life, a sense of gratefulness begins to overcome you and your journal becomes a prayer of thanksgiving. … Many men have commented that when they have gone back to read some of their journal entries, they can’t believe they actually wrote the words they’re reading.

Revelation from God’s Word

We mentioned that you should always have your Bible close by as you journal. God’s Word is living and active … These are great times to write down the things you are seeing and learning, for once we get back into the real world, it’s easy to forget what God was showing us.

A Prayer Form

As was stated earlier, many think of journaling as nothing more than another form of Prayer. Just as it can often be more meaningful for you to pray out loud rather than in silent, a written prayer has the extra blessing of being a treasure to keep. … you can write words of praise and adoration for the King. You can ask for forgiveness and write out your desire to repent of those things keeping you from Him. You can pour out thanksgiving. You can ask Him for guidance and wisdom. You can record your concerns for others, as you seek to intercede on their behalf. Since these things are recorded, you’ll be able to look back upon them someday and see how God answered your prayers.

It’s Your Journal

Once you get in the practice of Journaling, it’s very addictive. You will develop your own preference and style. Whether you write letters to God, historical records, Scriptural insights or Prayers, the main thing is that your relationship with God will deepen through it- Guaranteed! However, just as with all other attempts to draw close to God, the enemy will try to keep you from this practice. It will be a challenge to sit down and make the time to do this. He will distract you and torment you, but mostly, he’ll make you feel as if you have nothing to say to God. What a lie! Journaling has truly been a breakthrough experience for many men. Even for men who have walked with God and studied Scripture for many years, journaling has unlocked a part of their heart which they didn’t even realize existed. As we said before, we believe journaling is a gift from God for men. Great men of faith who came before us did it. Let it help you become a great man of faith.