Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Spiritual Discipline of Journaling

Journaling strikes me as an interesting activity. It seems like a good way to express yourself and to take some time to reflect on life and learning. I don't know many people who do a little journaling. Most people would never do this, while others have journaled for their entire life. Either way, it might surprise you that journaling may be quite useful as a spiritual discipline.

Donald Whitney's classic "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" has an excellent chapter on Journaling. Here are some notes from that as well as eight reasons why we should consider journaling.

"One of the seldom-practiced but very valuable Spiritual Disciplines is journaling.  Though not commanded in Scripture, God has blessed its use since Biblical times. Journaling is one way to express the pursuit of Christlikeness commanded in 1 Timothy 4:7:  ‘Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.’"

What is a Journal?
"A journal is a book in which a person may keep a variety of things, including a record of the works and ways of God in his life, of daily events, of personal relationships, of insights into Scripture, of prayer requests, of his feelings about and responses to these things, and the interpretation of all these from his own spiritual perspective.  The Bible itself contains many examples of God-inspired journals.  Many Psalms are records of David’s personal spiritual journey with the Lord.  The journal of Jeremiah’s feelings about the fall of Jerusalem we call Lamentations.  A journal not only promotes spiritual growth by means of its own virtues but it’s also a valuable aid to the other Spiritual Disciplines as well."

The Value of Journaling
  1. It helps in self-understanding and evaluation (Rom. 12:3)
  2. It helps in meditating on the Lord and His Word (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:1-3)
  3. It helps in expressing one’s deepest thoughts and feelings to the Lord (Ps. 62:8b)
  4. It helps in remembering the works of the Lord (Ps. 77:11-12)
  5. It helps in creating and preserving a spiritual heritage (Deut. 6:4-7; 2 Tim. 1:5)
  6. It helps in clarifying and articulating insights and impressions (1 Pet. 3:15)
  7. It helps in monitoring goals and priorities (Phil. 3:12-16)
  8. It helps in maintaining the other spiritual disciplines (1 Tim. 4:7)

For more info on journaling I would recommend Donald Whitney's book . Search around and you may find excerpts or notes on this, for example this handout on journaling based on Whitney's book. John Ortberg's "The Life You've Always Wanted" also discusses journaling. Upward Call ministries has on their website a  good article on journaling. Others are looking at more modern forms of journaling and have suggested Blogging as a spiritual discipline, and now even Twitter as a spiritual discipline. In fact, one reason I started blogging was to add some discipline to my own reading, Bible study, and sharing of insights. 

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