“I consider the time spent writing in my journal as Sabbath time – a time of rest and solitude, a time to come apart to be with God and to reflect on his Word, to search for his will, and to record the insights I receive. My journal has been the channel of many blessings” (p.17).
Journal Prompts for your Prayer or Scripture Journaling
Throughout the centuries, some of the greatest men and women of God have kept journals. But journaling isn’t just for spiritual giants. It’s for you and me.
If you find it hard to concentrate in your quiet time, a journal can help you focus on God and His Word.
Recording Scripture in a journal can help you remember and meditate on God’s promises.
If you have a desire to leave a record of your spiritual journey for your children or others, a journal is a great place to do so.
A journal can be a great place to capture ideas and pray for God’s timing and will.
It’s, also, a good place to record prayer lists, concerns and answers.
So What About You …
Do you keep a spiritual journal? Maybe you call it something else: a prayer journal, a Bible study notebook, or a Scripture journal.
Maybe you’ve thought about keeping a journal. You hear other people talk about it, but you think it would take too much time.
Maybe you hated writing in school and you can’t believe you’re even thinking about writing in a journal.
But a journal can be anything you want it to be. It can be handwritten or in an electronic format. Computers and tablets have dozens of apps and programs to fit every personality.
You can write a paragraph or a page, record a verse or a passage of Scripture, a prayer need or a prayer list. You can write everyday or only occasionally.
Here are Some Prompts to Try Out as You Journal or Experiment with Journal Keeping:
Start with the simple word “Yesterday …” then record the events of the day. At times this may lead into prayer for people or situations.
What’s going on in your heart and mind? Is there peace and trust? Or worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety or other negative emotions threaten to have their way?
Even if you haven’t followed along lately, I hope you’ll take the time to read this post. Our thinking is so important and learning to think biblically makes all the difference in our emotional condition.
Verses 22-31 repeat much of what we read a couple of months ago in Matthew 6 about worry and trust in God, but we can never hear these things often enough. Verses 29-31:
29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
I especially like verse 29, “And do not … have an anxious mind.” Why are we so often anxious? What, generally, controls our emotions?
Philippians 4 says:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Have you ever prayed and given some situation to God, only to find yourself worried about it a hour later? Why do we find it so hard to leave our troubles with God?
I believe the answer is in verse 8.
When it comes to worry and anxiety, it’s not enough to pray and then go back to thinking about it, trying to figure out how God’s going to solve the issue, or as we often do, fretting about what we should do to fix the problem. We need to change our thinking.
It’s no accident that verse 8 follows 6 and 7. “Finally …” after you’ve prayed about it, “meditate on these things”! Think about them deeply.
What is it we’re to think about deeply?
We’re to focus on what’s true, not the what if’s and maybe’s. We’re to think about the greater truths. It may be true that your husband has lost his job, but the greater truth is that God is your Provider (2 Cor. 9.8; Phil. 4.19).
We’re to think about what’s noble and lovely. Believe the best of others. Don’t see them in the worst possible light. See them as God sees them. And remember no one is too hard for God (Prov. 21.1).
Think of the good, those things for which you can be thankful. Think about how God has taken care of you in the past and how You have seen Him work in the Bible and in the lives of people you know.
2 Corinthians 10.4-5 says:
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Notice the words “arguments”, “knowledge” and “thoughts.” These strongholds have to do with our thinking and patterns of thinking. We take our thoughts captive by replacing them with God-honoring, God-filtered ones.
When we’re tempted to worry and be anxious, we must remind ourselves that if the Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want. We won’t lack anything we need. But, as I heard someone say, Psalm 23.1 may be the best known and least believed verse in the Bible.
When we start to wonder if our spouse will ever change, we must remind ourselves that our job is to first take the logs out of our own eyes (Matt. 7.5), that we overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.21) and that doing good to the other person will be the most likely way to bring conviction (Rom. 12.20).
When we start fretting about our children, we must remember that God only asks us to be faithful (1 Cor. 4.2) to teach and train them using godly principles (Eph. 6.4), not to unnecessarily frustrate them (Col. 3.21) or provoke them to anger (Eph. 6.4), and to leave the results in His hands (Prov. 22.6).
But in order to take our thoughts captive to these truths and others, we must first put God’s word in our hearts and minds. Romans 12.2 tells us:
“… be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
And Psalm 119.9-11 (NASB) says:
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
So when we’re feeling anxious or worried or a host of other negative emotions, let’s stop and take an inventory of our thoughts.
The Sovereign God who watches over all the details of life is watching over us. He knows what we need. Our focus is to be on doing the things that advance His kingdom. But if we’re not purposefully thinking and meditating on those things, our default modes of worry, anxiety, anger, other sinful thought patterns will take over.
How Journaling Can Help
When I’m counseling people struggling with emotional issues, I often ask them to keep a journal. It’s often very revealing for them to slow down and ask themselves a series of questions. Continue reading →
As January comes to an end and the second month of 2017 begins, many of us will be thinking about the goals and resolutions we made just a few weeks ago. We’ll examine our progress (or lack of it) concerning a new diet, exercise plan or some other goal.
And when it comes to our health, we get numerous examinations and tests to ensure we stay as healthy as we can. When we go to school, we take examinations to test our proficiency in those subjects. But how many of us take time to examine our lives spiritually?
As the Lord delivered the Israelites out of their 430 years of slavery in Egypt, he gave them several things that were to act as memorials for them. First, was the Passover itself.
He, also, told them the first born of all their children and animals belonged to Him. They were to sacrifice the “clean” animals (more about that later) and were to redeem or offer another sacrifice in place of those animals not appropriate for sacrificing (13.13) and they were to offer sacrifices for their firstborn sons. This was to remind them of how the Lord had spared their sons and animals when He brought the final plague on Egypt.
As we continue with our Old Testament narrative, we will repeatedly see God instruct the Nation of Israel to set up memorials. We, too, need our own memorials. It’s so easy to forget what God has done for us and, instead, get focused on what we think He hasn’t done: the prayers He hasn’t answered our way or how He hasn’t blessed us like He has blessed someone else. We need to remind ourselves about the things from which He has already delivered us and the things He has done for us.
Even, if He never did another thing, we should remember the price He paid so our sins could be forgiven. That is the central focus of the Lord’s Supper, the New Testament counterpart to the Passover. It is a memorial to the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (emphasis mine)
Another focus of the Lord Supper is to remind us to examine ourselves. In the Old Testament leaven or yeast represented sin. As the Israelites prepared to leave Egypt and each time they took the Passover, they were to examine themselves and see if there was sin in their lives. We, too, are to ask God to show us if there is unrepentant sin in our lives before we take the Lord’s Supper.
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (1 Cor. 11, emphasis mine)
This isn’t the only time we should examine ourselves. The Psalmist prayed in Psalm 139:23-24: Continue reading →
Probably one of the most familiar stories in Judges is the story of Gideon. Those who have been brought up in Sunday school have probably heard the story many times. But God doesn’t want us to come to His Word, going “ho-hum, heard that one before.” His Word is “quick” as the old KJV says. That means it’s “alive.” Think of the “quick” under your fingernails—very much “alive” as you know if you’ve ever gotten a splinter under there!
Remember our questions from yesterday and how we can use them to dialog with the Lord. What are You trying to tell me through this passage? Is there a promise here I can claim? Is there a command I should obey? Is there a principle I need to put to work in my life? Is there an example I should follow? Followed by a rereading of the passage. Continue reading →
As January comes to an end and the second month of 2014 begins, many of us will be thinking about the goals and resolutions we made just a few weeks ago. We’ll examine our progress (or lack of it) concerning a new diet, exercise plan or some other goal.
And when it comes to our health, we get numerous examinations and tests to ensure we stay as healthy as we can. When we go to school, we take examinations to test our proficiency in those subjects. But how many of us take time to examine our lives spiritually? Continue reading →