So now you’ve picked your quiet time spot – mine is a black and white chair in the bedroom – set your alarm for earlier, and started reading your Bible every morning. In the basket next to my chair I keep my Bible, pens, colored pencils (don’t bleed through the pages), sticky notes (reminders for later), and my journal.
Why do we journal? Isn’t that a habit you left behind in 4th grade?
We journal for at least three reasons:
(1) Self discipline. Every day you read, every day you write. Just pen a couple of lines about what you read. Don’t write a novel, you’ll never finish your quiet time. You might note the chapter number and what topics or stories were in the that chapter. If you’re pursuing a question like “How does this passage reveal the character of God?” then you might jot a few notes about that. If a verse jumps out at you, write it out. If there’s something you don’t understand, note the verse number and put a big question mark. (Then when you have time later ask someone else what that verse meant, or go look it up in a commentary.)
(2) Reflection and Release. One day recently I sat down for my quiet time but, honestly, I was too mad to think about reading Ecclesiastes. So I made a list in my journal instead titled “Why I am So Grumpy Today”. It’s kind of funny when I look back at it two weeks later, but it was a useful exercise. By making the list I got a lot of the angst off my chest. I also was able to reflect on how significant (or insignificant!) some of my issues were. I gained perspective. I turned that list into my prayer – and I told God that I wasn’t going to carry all those rocks around with me all day! I think I made some progress.
(3) To See Patterns and Progress. Since January I have read Luke, 1 & 2 Samuel, and Ecclesiastes. All my notes are in my journal. My sermon notes are there too (taking notes helps me pay attention in church… fight the ADHD tendencies!). I am learning things and I can look back and see it. That’s really encouraging.
Also, did you ever notice that when God wants to address an issue with you it crops up everywhere?! Whatever topic is on His mind – and He wants me to pay attention to – keeps reappearing in my quiet time reading, in sermon series, in articles I read online, and in other books I’m reading. God is amazing at choreographing life input so that I will get the message! You can see this pattern if you are journaling.
Try journaling! It’s an excellent discipline and will contribute to your spiritual growth, if you’re willing.