Putting things into words (your own words), leads to the openness and receptivity that is vital to life change and growing intimacy with God. Jesus often asked people, “what do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36, 51) He knew exactly what they wanted. But, He knew that people need to put things in their own words if they are going to embrace and truly be open to transformation at the heart level. Giving voice to our desire opens us to what is going on in the depths of our lives. Sometimes, it clarifies our hearts, and at other times, it reveals our hearts.

With this in mind, journaling can be an important spiritual discipline for growth.

Journaling: Listening to your life

In a consumer society it's easy to accumulate experiences, believing the ore we have the better! Yet experiences don't necessarily bring wisdom, nor do they automatically transform us. We need to listen and reflect on our experiences in the presence of the Holy Spirit to learn from them. Journaling is a way of paying attention to our lives - a way of knitting the vast ball of our experiences in to some with shape that attests to the state of our soul. Frederick Buechner reminds us in Listening to Your Life that "there is no chance thing through which God cannot speak." On the pages of a journal, in the privacy of a moment, we can take tentative steps into truth and scour our feelings, hurts, ideas and struggles before God. Over time repetitious themes, sins, compulsions, hopes and concerns emerge. We begin to recognize our besetting sins, limitations and desires. During times of transition, travel, loss, joy, illness and decision making, journaling can provide a way of processing the hopes, fears, longings, angers and prayers of our heart. It can be the place we sound off before God so we don't sound off in an inappropriate way to others.
The ongoing nature of a journal catalogs the journey of a soul into God. It reveals how we hammer out our identity as a Christ-follower through the ups and downs of daily routines as well as in times of crisis. There is no right way to journal. You don't need to journal every day or even every week. Find the rhythm of journaling that suits your phase and stage of life. If writing isn't your thing, make a journal of photos or drawings or articles. Assign key words or thoughts or themes to the entries. If you don't write well, remember that you don't need to write beautifully or use complete sentences. Journaling is a way for you to be with God and your thoughts, not an exercise in language arts. Tell the truth to God and yourself as best you can. Review what you write on a regular basis. As you do, you will begin to recognize recurring life these, desires, frustrations and patterns of interaction. These insights become matters for dialogue with God.

From Adele Ahlberg Calhoun's "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook"
When you journal, it is helpful ask yourself a series of questions in order to grow in the awareness of what is going on in your life and open yourself to the influence of the Holy Spirit. 


In the morning you can start with the question:
What do I want? (You can answer generally or specific to the day) As you write, open your heart to the influence of God to affirm, shift, or expand what is in your awareness.


If you journal in the evening, you can ask yourself: How was God present with me today? How did I respond to His presence? (This is an important step in learning to be aware of His presence in your life)


If you are experiencing afflictive or confusing emotions, you can ask: What I am thankful for? (Make a list; ask God to bring things to your awareness)

Other considerations

Other questions that you can consider are: What am I thinking? What am I feeling? Is there anything in my life that I am resisting? What question might God want me to ask myself?