I have been a devotional journaler for about 21 years now. I started this devotional habit after completing the Experiencing God study in 1997!
Journaling helps me pour out my ideas and prayers to God, along with processing life and what I’m reading/studying in the Bible. I’ve written about the daily devotional habits I aim for here.
Making journaling work for me requires a plan. Recently, I’ve found a helpful rhythm with three categories that help me process and pour out my prayers and ideas to God.
- GIVING THANKS – What do I need to thank God for today? I’ve heard people talk about gratitude journals for years. As I get older and difficulties and worries add up, I’ve found it helpful and invigorating to write out 10 to 20 things I’m thankful for each morning. This simple practice works! And it’s biblical! “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.” Psalm 107:1. No matter what, we almost always have more to be thankful for than to be worried about!
- GIVING UP / GIVING TO GOD – What is too big for me to handle today? Life on mission, parenting, getting older, being a leader – it all brings you up against your limitations regularly. I’ve found it helpful to admit and write out the things I will not be able to handle on my own and that I’m struggling with in life on this particular day or week. This is practicing in writing the admonition of 1 Peter 5:7 – “Casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.” Looking back at the list, I can see God’s hand at work and recognize that I’m never alone in the big battles I’m facing in life.
- GIVING AWAY – What opportunities do I have coming up for mission and generosity? This is a time to think through opportunities for mission and generosity that this day and the near future will bring. Busyness is an enemy of thoughtfulness, kindness, evangelism, and being on mission for others. A few minutes each morning helps me plan ahead, ask for God’s help, and make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16).
Along with 15-30 minutes of reading and responding to the Bible, these three categories are helping me be more meaningful in my devotional life and more prepared for my day on mission with God.