WHAT + WHY
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
God spoke and the world was created. God also asked people to write down the Words of life, and we have the Scriptures today because of spiritual journaling. We might not call it that, but the recording of human interaction with God, experiences, and insights. The Bible is not a bland historical record, but rather reflection, poetry, philosophy, theology, and wrestling. It is the record of human beings interacting with God.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered…” (Exodus 17:14)
Spiritual journaling is a way to articulate the Word as God impacts the deepest places of our hearts and minds. The Greek word for Word in the Greek is logos, but there is another word, rhema which also means “word.” The written or spoken word in response to the movement of God is not a divine word, but is a human reflection or articulation of an encounter with the divine Word.
In personality studies, some people with particular personality styles often joke that they do not know what they are thinking until they start talking. There are those of use who are “interior processors” and “external processors.” Sometimes we literally do not know what we are thinking and feeling until we articulate it through writing or speaking. This is why many of us see a counselor or a spiritual director – because talking helps us articulate what we think and feel. The same is often true with writing. When we write letters, notes, poetry, prose, or journal, we tap into a deeper place within us and we sometimes surprise ourselves with what comes out.
Spiritual journaling, or spiritual writing is a unique archaeology of the heart and soul. Writing can tap into both our minds and our hearts to capture spiritual movement and words that lie just beneath the surface, the unconscious working out of our deep sensibilities. We often find ourselves writing out “revelations,” or “aha’s” or surprises that can reveal deeper wounds, deeper joys, and more profound truths about ourselves and our experiences with the world around us.
“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.” (Jeremiah 30:2)
“Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness…” (Deuteronomy 31:19)
Our writing also is a way to witness, to remember, and to share and strengthen both our faith and the faith of others. Maybe you will never share your spiritual journaling with anyone else, but like a diary, spiritual journals become a way to witness to ourselves and remember what God has done, to sing the song of remembrance about his faithfulness and presence to us. When we are in need of hope, we can return to our spiritual journals and be reminded of God’s goodness and movement throughout our lives over time.
Lastly, spiritual journaling can also be a way to pray. It has been standard practice among Christians for centuries to write down prayer letters to God. Sometimes what we cannot express or articulate with our spoken words can be written down. Written prayers are a beautiful way to open up your heart and mind to God.
Step 1: Use journaling along with your spiritual reading, or Lectio Divina. Write down key insights, words from God, and words that arise from the Scripture and speak to your heart.
Step 2: Write a prayer to God. Start by sharing your day, your unique moments, and your questions.
Step 3: Dig deep and examine the wrestling in your soul, in your heart, in your mind. Pay attention to your relationships and your emotions. Begin writing about these, examining them from multiple perspectives and ask God to give you insight, discernment, thanksgiving, praise, and confession.
Begin by making a commitment to keep a spiritual journal for 30 days. Simply find a time each day to sit down and write a prayer, or if it’s easier, write a letter to God as if he is an intimately close but physically distant friend and share your heart.