What Sustains You?
The July issue of Sojourners Magazine asks various people the question: What sustains you? What keeps you refreshed for the journey to justice?
The answers have been interesting. Richard Rohr writes, “my daily and primary practice is contemplation.” Other answers include centering prayer, prayer of examen, community, saying thank you, Bible reading, and retreats.
So far no one has mentioned keeping a journal. Though journal keeping can be a form of prayer, I find it is so much more.
A spiritual journal is different from a regular journal. It is a written record of personal reactions to spiritual matters. Many people have discovered that writing down their thoughts and feelings helped them clarify some of the basic questions they were asking about life. “What’s it all about?” “What am I doing here?”, “What does God want me to become,” “Where does God want me to serve.”
Journal writing gives us the time to think through and clarify our beliefs. Writing in a journal helps us be more honest with ourselves. A journal is a helpful way of keeping up with our spiritual journey. Writing helps us to clarify the difference between the world’s concerns and God’s concerns
Benefits of Keeping a Spiritual Journal
~ clarifies one’s understandings of the nature and will of God
~ organizes one’s thoughts
~ gives one a chance to play with ideas
~ brings out thoughts that might never have occurred to one otherwise
~ records spiritual thoughts and realizations one has, so they’re not forgotten
~ forces one to take time out on a regular basis to sit with God and make some sense of life (sometimes we’re so busy living life that we don’t take time to get perspective)
~ makes a record of one’s spiritual growth, kind of like pencil marks on the kitchen doorway of one’s spiritual life
~ helps one to keep a balance between head and heart
~ can help one to know oneself better.
Putting something in writing is a powerful tool for our hopes, dreams, discernment and struggles.
Gordon McDonald writes, “I became aware, little by little, that God’s Holy Spirit was directing my thoughts and insights as I wrote. On paper, the Lord and I were carrying on a personal communion. He was helping me, in the words of David, to ‘search my heart’. He was prodding me to put words to my fears, shapes to my doubts. And when I was candid about it, then there would often come from Scripture or from the meditations of my own heart, the reassurances, the rebukes and admonitions that I so badly needed. But this began to happen only when journaling was employed.” [Ordering your Private World.]
Keeping a journal is my favorite floatation device in the storms of life.
What spiritual discipline sustains you?
I love journaling. I have kept prayer journals off and on for years and love looking back and seeing how God has worked in my life and answered prayers. Or not. Sometimes I look back and am SO glad He did not give me things I begged for! ;0)
I write at least part of my prayers daily and somehow it helps me to really release it to Him. It seems concrete somehow.
Great post, Jeanie! I hope it encourages others to adopt this practice. It’s definitely worth the time and effort.
Andrea Hawkins says
I find that writing does help me to understand my intentions and prayers.
I journal and have referred back many times to see God’s amazing work and His answers to prayers. I believe it is important, too.