As you might of heard in our Vision Sunday sermon last month, part of our Be One, Make One, Reach One ministry vision for 2021/22 is aligning our hearts with God’s through weekly journaling, prayer and Scripture memory. As spiritual disciplines go, these practices are ways that you can draw closer to God. They’re tools to use as you continue growing in your relationship with Jesus — but that doesn’t mean we always know where to start with them!
That’s why this fall we’re giving out journals to use as we go through the Upper Room Discourse in the Gospel of John. These journals are designed with space to read Scripture, make notes, write questions or prayer requests, and even memorize Scripture. As you start to use your journal, here are a few tips.
How to Journal
The great news about journaling is there’s no one way to do it. That’s right! It’s all up to you, friend.
Some people write in their journal every day, others write a couple times a week or month. Some people write paragraphs of their own wonderings, others write questions or prayer requests. Some people draw pictures and others collect verses that are important in a certain season. The beauty of journaling is that it’s absolutely up to you how you go about it. James 4:8 tell us that if we draw close to God, He’ll draw close to us — journaling, however you choose to do it, is one way to draw close.
Even if journaling is not something that comes natural to you, there are a couple reasons why it may be a worthy addition to your regular routine.
First, journaling helps you slow down and think through what you’re reading in Scripture and what you’re dealing with in your own life and relationship with Jesus. Maybe you have a lot of questions right now about your life or faith — journaling will help you stretch them out and look at them from a new angle. Maybe you have stories you want to record — journaling gives you the space to put them down. Maybe you want one place to keep all your notes from Sunday sermons — you can do that too! Whatever you have to say, there’s something about the act of writing (or typing) the words out that creates space for God to lean in and meet with us (Psalm 116:1-2).
Second, journaling can be helpful as a way of recording and remembering God’s faithfulness in your life. The journaling you do this fall will remind you six months, a year, a decade down the road of God’s presence and goodness in your life. We need to write these things down so we remember the tangible, daily ways God has shown up in our lives. It’s an encouragement to your future self as well as your community. Our stories and how God shows up — that’s the good stuff and that’s what keeps us going on a lot of days. So, write yours down!
One Method for Journaling
If you’re still looking for some guidance as you start journaling, the S.O.A.P. method might be worth trying. It will help you explore a passage, consider what you’ve read and take time to apply it to yourself. Here are the steps, broken down for you.
S – Scripture. Read the passage — slowly and thoughtfully.
O – Observe. Write down what you see. Keep it simple. Look for key words or phrases.
A – Application. Make a note of any ways you might apply what you’ve read to your life.
P – Prayer. Ask God to help you live out what you have learned.
A Few More Recommendations as You Get Started …
1. Begin prayerfully.
Start each day’s reading with a brief prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to give insight into the passage and assistance in applying it to your life.
- Read expectantly.
The Bible is the revelation of God to man. It is one of the primary means He uses to speak to His children. Expect to hear from Him. It could come in the form of encouragement or conviction, as a helpful reminder or a new insight.
- Look carefully.
Don’t be in a rush. Take your time as you read. Look for key themes, main characters, repeated phrases or obvious insights. Take special note of any verses that jump out at you.
- Think logically.
Approach each passage with a plan. Consider the following three questions to guide you as you read each day’s passage:
-What does it reveal about the character of God?
-What does it reveal about the nature of man?
-How could you apply it to your own life today?
- Close gratefully
Close your time in the Word with a prayer of thanks. Express your gratitude to God for His Word, the help of His Spirit and the promise of His ongoing transformation in your life.