Ok. Perhaps the title is laced with just a bit of hyperbole, but if you’re reading this, it did its job and got your attention.
This may come as a surprise to you considering the fact that I am a fairly frequent blogger, but I hate writing. I really do. Perhaps the digital age has made my hand lazy but I do not enjoy the physical process of using a pen and paper to write.
So what got me started into the process of journaling? My quiet times with the Lord were becoming more ritualistic and routine than they were about strengthening my relationship with Him. It was another box on my To-Do List that I was simply checking off. I wasn’t learning. I wasn’t growing. Something needed to change. Enter the journal.
About two months ago I began journaling my devotional times each day. It has taken me roughly that long to get the ‘structure’ down to a process that makes sense when I go back and look over things several days or weeks after I first jotted them down.
What a difference it has made! Perhaps it is the simple fact that you have to slow down to write things out. I find myself learning more, asking more questions that drive me to research things, and I’m growing again. Don’t get me wrong. I still don’t like writing, but putting pen to paper is so much more personal to me than having a digital journal. I have reached the point where I can’t see myself not doing it.
How has it made a difference for me? There are three big things that have changed about my quiet time.
1. Stronger Prayer Life
Yes, I know the movie War Room has made this a hot-button topic. (Go see it if you haven’t.) Journaling has completely rejuvenated my prayer life. Each day I begin by going through the previous day’s prayer list and if any of those prayers have been answered, I create a list of answered prayers. I then copy forward the list of prayer needs. Why write the same things down again? It keeps them fresh in my mind. In fact, without looking I could most likely tell you from memory all 15-20 items from today’s list. I don’t struggle to remember. I read each one and pray specifically for that need.
A side note to my friends: if I see a prayer need on your social media, it goes in my book and stays there until I see something that lets me know that God has intervened.
2. Scripture Has Come Alive
As I go through my daily reading, when a verse or passage speaks to me or hits me over the head, I write it down. Not just the reference. I write the verse or passage in its entirety. Sometimes I will jot a note underneath the passage to remind me of what God was showing me. Other times the verse speaks for itself and doesn’t need my flawed attempt at explanation.
Have you ever been in a situation where you are reminded of a verse you read a couple of days ago but you can’t remember where the verse was found? It used to happen to me all the time. Now, the chances are that I wrote it down and will be able to find it in a matter of moments thanks to my journal.
3. Improved Study Habits
Why am I studying? I’m not in school. I love to read. It’s one thing that I truly hope to pass on to my kids. I enjoy fiction, but I also read books by the likes of Craig Groeschel, Perry Noble, A.W Tozer, Mark Driscoll, and others. I have found that if I take notes as I read, the information sticks with me more than it does when I don’t.
If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to. You don’t have to drop a lot of money on a journal. Just spend a couple of bucks on a small notebook and give it a shot. You might be as surprised as I was to find out what a difference it can make.
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