I love starting a new journal.
The pages are clean, the binding is crisp, and the possibilities are exciting. What words will fill these pages? What adventures will I record? What questions will I wrestle through? What prayers will I see answered?
I’ve journaled for most of my life, and there is something so sweet about reading through those memories now. It allows me to see the hand of God steadily shaping me into the woman I am today.
If you’re struggling to see how God is working in your life and finding it hard to believe that AL could ever be found on Main Street, then journaling is a great way to discover and record all the miracles—big and small—that Jesus is doing all around you.
There’s no 11th commandment that says, “Thou shalt keep a journal all the days of thy life,” but I do believe there is strong evidence in Scripture that God can use journaling to strengthen, teach, encourage, and challenge us in our walk with Him.
Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Journaling helps us hold fast to God’s promises as we wait for them to be fulfilled.
And the LORD answered me:
“Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.
Have you ever felt God put a dream or passion on your heart, only to experience doubt when it didn’t come to fruition right away? You may be questioning, “Did I really hear God say that? Does He even care about this part of my life?”
God assures us in His Word that His promises never return void. The fulfillment may seem slow to you, but God is always on time. Journal entries from those days when God’s voice seemed crystal clear will provide you with something to hold onto when doubt begins to creep in.
Journaling helps us to remember God’s work in our lives.
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
On January 1st of this year, I started 2017 by reading through all my journal entries from 2016. I sat in awe of the story that they told. God answered one prayer after another after another. He molded my desires to match His, poured out blessings on my life, met Grant and I in our marriage, and so much more. As my mentor Denise Hildreth Jones likes to say, “God met me in my details.”
Because I captured those days in my journal, His faithfulness didn’t go unnoticed or fade from my memory with time. Reading back through my journal and reflecting on all God did in 2016 was the perfect way to strengthen my faith and confidence on the brink of a new year.
Journaling keeps God’s instructions in front of our eyes and, as a result, at the forefront of our hearts and minds.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
When I come across a scripture I want to meditate on or memorize, I like to write it down. Some people like to doodle or draw or paint or use calligraphy to artistically explore the verse and commit it to memory. I’m not that talented, but the simple act of writing the verse and placing it somewhere I can view it again helps me to hide God’s Word in my heart.
While reading through the bible in a year, jot down verses that stand out to you in your journal. Copy them to a notecard and place them where you’ll see them throughout the day. You can place it in your car, tuck it in the pages of your planner, tape it to your bathroom mirror, or stick it by your front door. Just like the Israelites kept God’s word on their doorposts and their hands, you can use journaling to keep God’s instructions in front of your eyes and at the forefront of your heart and mind.
Journaling allows you to leave a legacy.
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD…
Here’s a little confession: Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve always imagined my great great granddaughter 100 years from now reading through my journals and putting together the pieces of my life. Sure, there are some cringe-worthy chapters of my story—my teenage years produced some pretty melodramatic entries—but on the whole, I hope that young girl will read them and say, “Every door God opened up, Kaleigh step through. He was faithful to her.” And I hope it will encourage her to live her own life fully devoted to Him.
Journaling helps you process emotions and events.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
People process emotions and events in many ways. Sometimes, it helps to talk things out with a trusted friend or mentor. Other times, we are better off following Mary’s lead—quietly pondering everything in our heart until the time is right to share those feelings and experiences with others.
I’m not saying you should isolate yourself and never open up to others. But oversharing can make messy situations even messier. Journaling provides a safe space to clear your head and get a handle on your thoughts and feelings before trying to explain them to someone else.
Starting Your Journal
Now that you know some of the benefits of keeping a journal, where should you begin in starting one? There are no rules to journaling, so write whatever is on your heart. If you’re having a hard time getting started—or just need some fresh inspiration—journal prompts can help get your creative juices flowing. I’ve compiled 20 questions designed to help you reflect on 2016 and prepare for 2017.
Carve out time and space to sit alone, perhaps with your favorite worship album on in the background. Then, use these questions as a guide. Skip those that don’t resonate with you, or make up your own questions to dig into the details of your own story. There is no minimum word count or list of rules, but use these tools to jumpstart and guide your journaling time.
(Helpful hint: Click the Pinterest button at the bottom of this post to save these questions to a Pinterest board for later.)
10 Journaling Prompts to Reflect on 2016
- What life change surprised you most in 2016? What is one thing God did to remind you of His love during that change?
- List 3 good gifts God gave you in 2016.
- What is one prayer you saw answered in 2016?
- If you could assign one verse to 2016, what would it be?
- Which person in the Bible did you have the most in common with in 2016? What is one thing God said to that person that can also bring you hope?
- Which attributes of God were most clear to you in 2016 and why?
- What was the biggest challenge you faced in 2016? What is one thing you learned through the experience?
- Who in your life encouraged you and pointed you to Jesus in 2016?
- How did God provide for you this year—in your health, finances, or the desires of your heart?
- What church(es) did you attend in 2016? What is one way you saw God love, strengthen, or bless someone else in your church?
10 Journaling Prompts to Prepare for 2017
- What is your favorite way to connect with God? How will you make time to do that in 2017?
- What is one book of the Bible you’d like to read or study more closely in the new year?
- What is one Bible verse you’d like to memorize in 2017?
- What is one book you’ve been meaning to read that can encourage you in your faith? When can you make time to start and finish this book?
- What worries you the most about this new year? What does God say about that issue in His Word?
- Write down 1-3 verses that you will pray over your marriage/family relationships in 2017.
- Name one person you met or grew closer to in 2016 that God may be calling you to pray for and encourage in the new year.
- Write down 1-3 steps you can take to build healthy relationships with other Christian women in 2017.
- What is one thing you can do to shine the light of Jesus in your workplace in 2017?
- What is one talent or gift God has given you? How will you use it to worship Him or serve others in 2017?
I want to hear from you. Do you journal as part of your quiet time? What do you record in your journal, and how has it helped you in your walk with God? Share your thoughts in the comments below.