It begins with an awkward moment. Then, “I don’t know what to write…” But when you’re starting to keep a journal, it’s worth the discomfort of writing those words—and then discovering what comes next. Because, eventually, you’ll find your voice, and who God has created you to be.
At first, it can be difficult to look at one’s inner world expressed on the page. Amidst our praises and blessings, we may feel ashamed to see our false beliefs, bad attitudes, and sinful thoughts transcribed by our own hand. But it is far safer to deal with our faults with pen and paper than to let them continue to influence our everyday lives.
When we journal, we lay out all our thoughts, actions, and motivations. Then we decide what to keep, what to change, and what to get rid of, tidying up our inner lives like a Konmari expert.
If you’re new to journaling, or just looking for a way to revive the practice, we’ve put together this list of journaling styles. Pick one to try, and if it doesn’t seem to suit you, try another one. Eventually you’ll find something that fits and works for you.
Simply read a passage of Scripture and write down what you learned. Easy, right? You can use a book or magazine like our In Touch daily devotional to guide you—or utilize a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. Our new Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Journal has a verse on each page that you could study. Ask yourself “What is the writer saying?” and “How does this apply to my life?”
Popularized by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, this method utilizes a stream-of-conscience approach to journaling. Basically, you start writing and don’t stop until you’ve got three pages complete. That’s it. There’s no wrong way to do it. Simply write three pages, and then write three more tomorrow.
The 5-Minute Journal
Created by U.J. Ramdas and Alex Ikonn, this journal is great for those get-it-done types who don’t like to linger. This journal has bullet point lists with short lines. Simply write three things you’re grateful for, set a goal for the day and a plan to accomplish it, then go about your day. Come back later in the evening for a few minutes to reflect on the day.
For this one, instead of selecting a journal, pick out stationery. Write a letter to God each day and keep them in a special box. Decorate it or keep it simple—your choice. All you need to do is write to God like a long-distance pen pal.
No matter your personal approach to journaling, it’s important to discover how you grow spiritually. For while salvation is free, sanctification takes work. We must discover and put aside our sinful old selves and allow the Spirit to do His work in and through us. But through it all, we can rest assured in the promise that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).