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Journal Writing

Journal writing is a discipline that will be invaluable in retaining the lessons God is teaching us now, as well as providing a memory bank for the ways God has ministered to us in the past. Many devout people have kept such a record of the ways God has dealt with them. Here we will learn the basics of Journal writing, how to write a psalm and how to turn life's experiences into praise.

A list of items to be included in a journal:

  1. Highest Hopes. A journal should record our highest thoughts, inspirations, goals, and ideals.

  2. A Confessional. In a journal we can also freely express our feelings, frustrations, and failures, then pray precisely about them, e.g., repentance.

  3. Prayer Requests. Keep a record of prayer concerns we have committed to God, as we may forget many things for which we have prayed.

  4. Written Prayer/Paraphrasing Prayer. When it’s difficult to express ourselves and keep on track, e.g., desires are vague; it is difficult to concentrate; writing out prayers can be liberating and help to avoid routine.

    Paraphrasing some of the prayers of Paul or the Psalms can also be a good way to learn and broaden the scope and language of our prayers. For example, try paraphrasing Psalms 40; 42; 77; or Paul's prayers in Eph. 1:15-19a; 3:14-21; Phil. 1:3-6, 9-11; Col.1:9-14, etc.

  5. Answers To Prayer. Keeping a record and seeing God’s gracious and intervening action is amazing. Note: It is true that praying people have continuous answers.

  6. God’s Direction. Our lives can be impoverished if we forget to write down the direction God gives us in our quiet times.

  7. God’s Promises. A review of meaningful promises discovered in Scripture enables us to strengthen our faith in time of need. A record of these promises enables us to review them to strengthen our faith.

  8. New Commitments. Those commitments made mentally may soon be forgotten, but if they were written down, a frequent review would be of great profit, e.g., in the form of a commitment. Jonathan Edwards wrote seventy resolves which he purposed to read every week. The habit kept his life commitment ever before him.

  9. A Source Book. A daily record of your spiritual pilgrimage provides something fresh to share with others.

  10. The Writing Of Psalms. A meaningful way to save your prayers and praise to God. (See the format of the 4 R’s for writing Psalms.)

  11. Reflections On My Reading. Salient quotes can be saved in the journal for further reflection and meditation.

A list of practical suggestions

Anyone beginning to keep a record will ask, "How can I be most effective in keeping a record?" The following are suggestions that will be helpful.
  1. Use a record book—not a diary. The days are not marked, so if the writer fails to write for a day or two, he won't have to leave blank pages.
  2. Be completely honest. Don’t tell a better story than actually happened, and don’t get it in your mind that you are writing for an audience.
  3. Write regularly if you can. There is a tendency to neglect writing when we are low, or are pressed for time. At a minimum, write at significant moments.
  4. Keep your journal and Bible together.

A journal project

Begin by doing the following:

  1. Purchase a journal.
  2. Pick two from "a list of items to be included in a journal," and write about them.
  3. Write a paragraph each day about what you’ve discovered in your walk with God. If you miss some days, don’t worry, but be as consistent as possible.
  4. Record principles you discover from your Bible study each day. Maybe a sentence summary to begin with is all you need.

Journal exercises

Reminiscing ...Read Psalm 137:1-6; 138:1-3.

God, the Creator of the Universe has indeed been with you quite awhile. There have been times when He has stood at your side; but only later, reflecting on your experience, did you become aware of that fact. Other times His presence has been almost tangible. Remember those times, reenter those moments and live them again, with Christ. Recall the unique and precious story that bears your name. You might want to start with, "O God, when I think back to my times with you, I remember..."

Reflection ...Read Psalm 139.

You are known. In every moment, at this moment, God knows you through and through and loves you as you are. So you are set completely free; free to know yourself, to know how you are feeling about things, about Christ. Think about Christ now, feel the feelings; say what you feel, what you really want to say. And hear, hear what Jesus Christ has to say to you. You might want to start with, "Lord, you know what is going on in my life. Please..."

Dreaming ...Read Isaiah 55.

You have heard the call of God. God has made an everlasting covenant with you. He and you have plans and dreams that will bring glory to Him. Share those hopes, those dreams, those perhaps secret wishes. Don’t worry about impure motives—God has seen and worked through those before. And don’t hold back. It is the Creator of all who is your friend. Therefore, humble yourself and your dreams before Him. Hand them over to Him. Hand yourself—your future over to Him. As you do that rejoice, for your future is held by the One who has both power and deep, deep love for you. You might want to start with, "Almighty Father, as I think about the days ahead, I...."

Writing a Psalm

A Time to Remember and Praise

Here is a suggestion for keeping our hearts filled with good memories and praise; it is the writing of a psalm. This can be a very rewarding experience and an effective way to recall God’s blessings in our lives. It is simply not acceptable to be forgetful about God’s goodness. How is it done?

Walking with King David

David is obviously the most effective model for us to follow. Let’s look at two examples that show the pattern he often followed.

 

Psalm 77. Notice how the Psalm is arranged.

  1. His present situation—vv. 1-2
  2. His memory of God—v. 3
  3. His memory of God’s work in his life—vv. 3-6
  4. His present questions—vv. 7-9
  5. His memory of the deeds and miracles of the Lord—vv. 10-12
  6. His memory of who God is—vv. 13-19
  7. His memory of miracles in the past—vv. 19-20

Psalm 42. This Psalm follows the same pattern. David begins with:

  1. His present situation—vv. 1-3
  2. His memory of previous good times—v. 4
  3. His statement of faith—v. 5
  4. His present situation—v. 6a
  5. His memory of who God is—vv. 6-8 psalm

    With David’s example in mind, let’s try to write our own psalm. There are usually four Rs in writing our own personal psalm of praise.

     

    Record your present situation, your feelings, and circumstances. Be as honest as you can.

    Recall the times God has helped you. These are major events.

    Restate your understanding of who God is. Write out the attribute/name of God that applies to this situation.

    Resolve to let God work in and through you again, by making a statement of faith in conclusion.

     

    Now—put this all together in a psalm from your life using the four Rs.

Write a general psalm

Psalm writing can be based on personal memories of the past, or many other items of praise. David and others remembered four key things.

The Psalmist remembered what God had done—Ps. 145.

The Psalmist remembered God’s constant care for His people—Psalm 121.

The Psalmist remembered the fact that God had spoken—Psalm 62:11-12.

The Psalmist remembered God’s provision in nature—Psalm 135.

Assignment

After you have written your personal psalm using the four "Rs," try writing a psalm of general praise—a psalm reflecting what God has done and is doing for all His children.

Turning Life's Experiences Into Praise

This project will reveal how to turn your life experiences into praise, worship, and thanksgiving to God by writing a spiritual history.

 

This process can be painful, but if we stick with it, there will be great joy in its completion as well as providing a storehouse of praise to God. There are four simple steps involved:

 

First, list the major tragedies you’ve had in your life. These are circumstances you did not initiate. You were not the cause, only one caught in the middle; e.g., the death of a parent, a mate, a friend; the loss of a job due to economic conditions; the loss of a home through fire; a car accident; the theft of belongings.

 

Second, list the major failures you’ve had in your life: experiences that, in reflection, were a result of your ignorance, disobedience, rebellion, sin—e.g., a moral failure, divorce, the loss of a job due to laziness, out-of-control anger, overindulgence, gossip. There may have been others responsible for contributing to this failure, but that isn’t our concern here. List the major failures that have affected your life, or your negative feelings about others or God. Give your utmost attention to those failures that have turned into victories, e.g., Ps. 32; 51; your salvation. We will concentrate on those.

 

Third, look back over the above lists. What are some of the ways you have benefited from the tragedies or failures? There may be negative reflections you could make, but at this stage we are only concerned with the positive lessons learned. The following may help you to discern what has been beneficial. Be very brief at this point.

  • Attitudes you have acquired
  • Biblical concepts you have applied
  • Healing of broken relationships and hurts
  • Lessons you have learned (write short capsulized statements)

 

Fourth, now list short praises to God for each of these positive reflections. "Lord, I have reflected on my past and I want to..."

  • "praise you for the patience you have brought into my life."
  • "thank you for teaching me I can do nothing in my own strength, but as I draw upon your resources, all things are possible."
  • "praise you for the comfort, protection and provision you gave to me during my divorce."
  • "thank you for smashing my arrogance and teaching me to humbly stand before you."
  • "praise you for revealing my secret sin. The pressure of trying to conceal it and the lies I planted are now gone."