Spiritual Journaling: A Rhythm of Relationship with Jesus in the Pages

Written by: Inés Franklin
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Every moment of every day, God is at work in our lives, weaving our existence into a tapestry that spans all eternity. God is at work around us, within us, and through us. It can sometimes be a quiet whisper, a gentle nudge – easily overlooked amidst life’s noisy hustle and bustle.

Because of this, we must find intentional ways to tune into his voice. One beneficial practice towards this end is to cultivate a heightened awareness and discernment of the Holy Spirit’s movements through journaling. It can be an integral part of the spiritual journey when done regularly.

Journaling: Amplifying our Listening

I firmly believe that journaling amplifies God’s impact on our lives. It’s one thing to recall God’s interplay in our lives mentally, but quite another to ink it down, creating a tangible record of what he has done and how we notice him in our day-to-day.

Journaling is an extension of our thoughts and feelings. It externalizes our internal dialogues, capturing fleeting emotions and crystallizing them on paper and in our minds. A recent study at the University of Tokyo found that “writing on physical paper can lead to more brain activity when remembering the information an hour later.” Essentially, things are more solidified in our minds when we write them down, whether we go back to read them or not.

And the more we practice this form of prayerful journaling, the more patterns of God’s movements emerge, and the more we will understand our deeper emotions, desires, and motivations. We’re charting our spiritual journey by journaling about our faith and relationship with God. We can trace back, revisiting pages soaked with God’s grace, reminding ourselves of His unwavering faithfulness during times of struggle or doubt.

The Journaling Process: Your Spiritual Safe Space

When choosing your journal, let it be an extension of you – something that sparks joy every time you reach out for it. At its core, a spiritual journal is a sanctuary for your soul. It’s where you pour out your most intimate thoughts about your relationship with God, chronicling the ebbs and flows of your connection with God. Like any relationship, there will be times when His presence is palpable and others when it seems distant. However, as we often need reminding, God’s proximity doesn’t waver – our perception does. Our hearts, sometimes, are the ones that wander.

Journaling brings mental clarity and emotional healing. It is therapeutic, bringing tranquility to turbulent hearts and giving voice to silent intuitions. It can be cathartic, creating space to purge pity, fear, and emotional tensions. The physical act of writing provides an anchor, centering our thoughts. When I journal, I also staple or glue parts of articles, sermons, drawings, and anything else that helps me capture the heart of what I am trying to process. My journal is peppered with dried leaves and flowers to help me remember where I was at the time of reflection. All this is to say that journaling can be a multi-media experience, not just a writing exercise.

The Journey of Journaling

There isn’t a rigid structure you have to follow when it comes to journaling. Instead, make it about finding a rhythm that resonates with your spirit. Yes, you are free to choose how much to journal, when, and how often. But before embarking on your writing journey, finding a quiet haven is beneficial. As you prepare to journal, a few moments of prayer, Bible reading, or worship can center your spirit, aligning your thoughts with the Lord’s. And as you pen down your reflections, let it flow organically. Be it short musings or lengthy ruminations, there’s no prescription. You might be surprised at what percolates up from the depths of your heart or what biblical insights the Holy Spirit will illuminate. The more you practice journaling, the more you will notice the change God is bringing about within you, as revisiting past journal entries can highlight personal development, spiritual growth, and changes in perspectives. Revisiting past entries can be a profound experience, a testament to your transformative and evolving relationship with Jesus.

And that is not even mentioning the practical benefits! You may experience enhanced creativity as you regularly stimulate your creative thoughts, exploring ideas and possible solutions. As you reflect on your problems from multiple perspectives, including that of the Holy Spirit, you may start to find solutions you had not thought of before. Journaling regularly will also improve your writing by honing grammar, vocabulary, and articulating skills and aid in memory retention. And when you include lists of things you are thankful for, you will notice increased positivity and growth in your overall well-being. Psychological research is revealing what God has known all along: cultivating gratitude is good for our health!

Treat your journal with the reverence it deserves. If its contents are sacred and private, ensure it is kept securely.

Journaling for Spiritual Growth

I have a stack of journals among the books on my office bookshelves. The variety of exterior physical forms—spanning colors, shapes, sizes, and styles—reflects the various stages of faith I have experienced, and the twists and turns, highs and lows, of my journey. Some even have writing on the outside, as if I wished to use every inch to capture an unearthed emotion or bit of inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Each phase of my life is precious to me and reminds me that God doesn’t waste any part of my journey, and that he often uses something from even the toughest of phases to help me and others along their own walk with Jesus.

Perhaps the most precious parts of my journals are the many prayers that the Lord has put in my heart over the years. Here is one example:

“Lead me LORD, to a blameless life. Nurture me to a loving relationship so that I may do what is right by loving others and telling your truth. May the light of your glory shine through your work on me.”

As you can see, journaling is more than just a record-keeping activity, but a prayerful practice of reflection, gratitude, and refocus. Journaling is a versatile tool that offers numerous cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and psychological benefits. Whether used as a medium for self-reflection, creativity, or therapy, it provides an avenue for personal exploration and growth. But, as a vital part of our faith journey—with God’s omnipresence as the constant backdrop—embracing the act of journaling can lead to profound spiritual insights.

In the quiet pages of a journal, one can find the profound echoes of the Holy Spirit’s guidance as well as the transformative power of Jesus’ love.