Occasionally, I take “prayer days,” where I go somewhere remote to decompress and talk to God. Recently, I literally went to the end of a dirt road in Randolph Co., AL to my childhood hunting camp. I was armed with a load of journals. Journaling isn’t something I did before I was a Christian but a few years into my journey as a follower I began writing down what God was showing me. I wrote down prayers and other things I wanted to remember. I ended up spending a lot of time on this prayer day reading my past observations and prayers. One selection that was particularly impacting was a reading from 1996 when God was doing some tremendous things in my life. I was making trips to the Brownsville Revival and spent the summer in Louisiana working in the cotton fields and as a youth pastor. As I read, I literally began to feel the Lord’s presence like I did at those Brownsville meetings.

I usually journal little more than a couple times a month. Taking just that little time, however, to write down what God is saying and doing in me, writing my dreams, thoughts and prayers, has had a tremendous impact on my faith walk. I wanted to pass on a few thoughts that might encourage you to document your own history in God.

Writing my thoughts gives me clarity.

When we write we have to think the thought on a level that is at least somewhat comprehensible. Writing moves our thoughts from ambiguity to articulation, or as Dawson Trotman says, Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through your fingertips. Writing helps you find the words.

Writing my prayers gives me a voice.

The psalmists were probably some of the most emotionally healthy people on the planet because they learned the art of expressing their emotions without accusing God. Psalm 142:2 I pour out my complaint before him, before him I tell my trouble. Journaling our thoughts, burdens, and prayers is another form of meditation. When you write a prayer, follow the example of the psalmists: remember to write first how you feel, but always end with truth. “Life is hard right now, it seems like everyone is against me….but I know you are good and I will praise you.”

Writing my dreams gives me memory.

Job 33:14 says this For God does speak–now one way, now another–though man may not perceive it. Yes, God speaks through dreams. We need to “perceive it.” Scripture is riddled with examples of God communicating to his people in dreams, even about the birth of his own son. Click here if you want to hear an entire teaching on dreams. John Paul Jackson says that “dreams are written in disappearing ink,” that’s why its great to write them down.

Writing my prophecies gives me get up and go.

Aren’t you glad the prophets wrote down what God was telling them? In fact the difference in the major prophets and the minor prophets was how much they journaled! God sends prophetic words into our lives to encourage us towards specific ends, to clue us in on what he is up to and to help us understand how we are designed. Writing these down not only shows you patterns over time, but they give great encouragement when you read them. Write the vision so you can run when you read it. Habakuk 2:2  And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. (ESV)

Writing my goals gives me the next step.

Writing down what we want helps us to think about what we want. Solomon put it so well in Proverbs 14 when he said “it is the wisdom of the wise to give thought to their ways.” When we think about our life and take intentional steps grow it will start to show. “The path of the wicked,” Solomon also says, “is like deep darkness, they did not journal.” Ok, it really says “they do not know what makes them stumble.” Maybe they weren’t giving thought to their ways. Goals help me crystalize what I want and then move toward them.

I have life goals that I’ve been working on for sometime. I use these goals to make more specific seasonal goals (a good activity for a prayer day). Though, I never do all of them, I am usually amazed at how many of them I did get done simply because I wrote them down.

There are many great reasons to take a few minutes and write things down. I hope you are encouraged as you write and read what you have written.

Below is a talk where I go a little deeper into the subject of journaling. If you think it will help someone please pass it on.