In writing about practices that have helped me grow spiritually, I began in the last post talking about the importance of silence. I would add one or two comments. Unless you live isolated from modern life, it is almost impossible to escape the roar of traffic or the sounds of neighbors. I have found a free app called Insight Timer that helps me block out most of that noise with quiet sounds like flowing rivers or tinkling bells. It also allows me to set the timer for 10 minutes (or more or less depending on my desire). If you think it might help you, give it a try.
Now on to practice #2. It is journaling. WAIT, don’t quit reading! I know that journaling may not help everyone, but it is the single most important practice that I do because it helps me with most of my other practices.
The value of a daily journal is at least three-fold. It helps us to know ourselves as we write about events in our lives, our thoughts, and our feelings. It can also help us to relate to God. I often find myself talking to God as I write. It also helps us to concentrate. More about that in a moment.
So, what do I write in my journal? I usually begin by writing some comments on my morning scripture reading. Knowing that I am going to write something, helps me to concentrate on the reading. I’m not just reading to check off a daily accomplishment. I am reading to find something meaningful for me in that moment. Journaling helps me to do that.
I also write about my life. Since most of my journaling is in the morning, I usually detail some of what happened the day before and what I plan for the coming day.
And I usually write some short one or two sentence prayers. Perhaps I will thank God for something that happened the day before or an insight I discover in scripture. Perhaps I will ask God to help me in general or specific ways as I reflect on scripture and my life. It’s sort of like sending a text message to God. (Sometimes, not often, I will write out a long prayer, usually of thanksgiving.)
I do a few other things from time to time, but these seem most important to me. I do not spend a lot of money on fancy journals. I often just buy a spiral bound note book.
I began journaling on December 16, 1977. I have written over 2000 pages, maybe closer to 3000. The goal is to write every day, but I don’t. In the past, I might miss several days in a row. Being retired, it is easier to write almost daily. The important thing to remember is that if you miss a week, don’t give up. Simply start up again on the day when you can.
If you are not already keeping a journal, I encourage you to give it a try in 2018.
(As always feel free share any of this with others you think might benefit. Thanks for reading!)
5 thoughts on “My Most Valuable Practice”
Good advice, Lamon!
Sent from my iPad
A question: when do you re-read your journal? And under what circumstances?
Sent from my iPad
Hey Mike, I just saw your question! Sorry to be so late in responding. Occasionally, when I want to refresh my memory about something I need to know or want to share, I will look back and try to find it. Otherwise, I have not reread them, until last year–or maybe a little longer. I decided I wanted to write a memoir for my kids and grandkids. I am rereading and making notes with that book in mind. I am currently in the middle of 2002, so have about 16 more years to work through. It is interesting to see some of the changes in my perspective and thought. I am organizing my notes under four headings: life with God, family and friends; theology; comments on the Psalms; comments on the Gospels. I am looking forward to how to put it together realizing that I cannot include even most of it!
Lamon, I know I would benefit from journaling so am going to begin that practice again.
It is refreshing to read your writings. Thank you, Caroline
Thanks Caroline. Glad you enjoy my writing.