How Journaling Can Help Your Faith and Emotions
When life takes an unexpected turn, or we are stressed and busy, it is easy to go into survival mode and bury our emotions. We keep pressing on, doing the things we know we are supposed to be doing and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
It is also easy during that time to not spend intentional time seeking God. We are in survival mode, not seeking God mode.
But it is vital that we process those emotions, rather than holding them in until one day we explode or hit a breaking point. Whether with other people, or alone on the pages of a notebook, our emotions need to be processed. Felt. Dealt with. And released.
Writing is a creative form of worship. David was considered a man after God's own heart and he was known for writing the Psalms–full of his struggles and worries but always coming back to praise God and declaring his love and trust of God.
It only takes a few minutes to sit down in front of a computer or a notebook with a blank page in front of you and start writing. Write whatever comes to mind. Get those thoughts out. Be honest and vulnerable, the page is a safe place for you.
After I've written and processed for a while, I then like to turn my thoughts toward scripture and God. What would I say to God in this situation? What would I like for Him to say to me?
And so then I end my journaling with a time of writing out my prayers–it is essentially a love letter to God. Of being honest and vulnerable before God. Of asking Him for help and guidance and wisdom and peace and whatever it is I need in that situation.
Journals are also a great resource for going back and seeing how much you've grown spiritually and personally. How God has answered your prayers (because let's face it, it's a lot easier to see how God is working when we're looking back at how the pieces all fit together).
Things you can include in your journal
- Letters to God, your spouse, your children, fear, your idols, people who have hurt you, etc. (You do not need to give these letters to these people, it is simply a way for you to process your thoughts, release any negative emotions you may be feeling toward that person/item, and allow you to move forward)
- Praises (how God has answered prayers)
- A list of things you are grateful for
- Scriptures for particular topics or verses that come to mind while you are praying
Bible passages that you have been studying and how it is applicable to your own life
- Dreams, visions, and goals you have
- Confession of struggles and sins–get it off your chest, onto the page, and into the forgiving hands of God!
- Your questions to God–it's ok to verbalize them, but make sure you're asking with a heart to understand what God is trying to teach you, because that is when He will answer
- Prayer requests of family, friends, ministries, etc
- Your own prayer requests and needs you are putting into God's hands
Set your journaling intention
- What materials will you use? A fancy journal or a composition notebook? What writing materials will you use-pencil, or your favorite pens? Or will you use your laptop and a Word or Google document? Coffee or tea? A candle or music or something to make your journaling time special? What other materials would you use?
- How often will you journal? Once a week? Three times a week? Every day? Try to honor your goal and evaluate if it is often enough or too much. If you don't make your goal, give yourself grace. Journaling is supposed to be a freeing experience, not one to feel guilty about.
- When will you journal? At night before bed? In the morning? After or during your Bible reading? Knowing when you will journal will make it easier to stay accountable and make sure you make it happen.
- How much would you like to write? A page? Three pages? Or no page goal, just simply until you feel you've gotten all the words out?
- What will your journaling method be? Will it be writing letters to God? Writing out prayers? A combination of your thoughts and letters? Will it include lists of prayer requests and things you're grateful for?
Don't worry about perfecting and editing! Just get the words out and onto the paper. God already knows what you're thinking and He wants you to share your heart with Him so He can help you move forward with Him.
And try to always end your journaling with words of praise and worship-it'll do you and your faith a lot of good.