I’ll never forget the look on Deb’s face when I asked it she kept a devotional journal.
I ___” Long pause. ‘I know everyone has one.” Another pause, then a quick, “I guess I’m not normal, because I jut don’t like to write.”
Well, Deb is perfectly normal and in perfectly good company. Millions are born without a love for writing, but writing is not the only way to keep a journal. Consider the following, and you may find ideas for adding new meaning to your quiet time with God.
For the artist, a sketchbook
Feelings, thoughts, even prayers can be sketched or painted. Color, brushstroke, texture, and design can speak the thoughts of your heart and reflect the yearnings of your soul. You can offer God praise, adoration, thanks, contrition, grief, sorrow, happiness, joy , pleas, abject needs and more—in picture, symbolism, or stylistic design.
Recorded in a sketchbook, these expressions of your inmost self may become an inspiring record of your walk with God
Craft your praise and prayer.
Knitting, crocheting, quilt making, sculpting, crafts, and handwork of all descriptions are full of symbolism and meaning, and you can capture spiritual truths in pattern, shape, and design. You can incorporate Bible texts or words of prayer and praise for added depth of meaning. The key is to keep your heart “stayed on God,” to consciously link what you are doing with His word and His ways, and to make it a special part of your time with Him. Ideas and sketches in a pattern book with supporting texts or notes regarding their symbolic intent will become a journal that comforts you when you need inspiration and encouragement.
Plant your blessings.
Gardeners rely on their gardening calendars for planting and harvest times, and for noting specific care or particular results. Plant your blessings. Dedicate certain flowers or plants as praise or tanks or reminders of particular individuals or needs.
Whether it’s a single plant on your windowsill or a field that stretches to the horizon, make yours a garden of prayer. Search the Bible for texts and parallels. Ask yourself how Jesus’ outdoor parables apply to your own gardening experiences and to your life in general. Record the specifics on your calendar and you’ll have an ongoing record of God’s place in the garden of your life.
“Organize” your spiritual life.
If you love to file, memorize, and follow step-by-step procedures, an ideal journal is an appointment calendar with space for keeping lists and making notes. Keep your prayer list here, noting the name, date, and request. Systematically pray for those on your list and write down answers as they come. Copy in a key text for each day to think about and to memorize. At the end of the year you will have a wonderful chronicle of specific times and ways God has intervened in your day-to-day walk with Him.
Photo album of God’s love
A picture is worth a thousand words. Make God a part of your picture-taking. Think of the possibilities for creating an album of praise or for bringing alive a favorite Bible passage or for making a montage of your own spiritual journey.
Choose subjects with significant meaning or that symbolize various aspects of life, and look at them from different angles that show varying influences of light, color, and surroundings. Link the differing views with aspects of God’s love, care, and guidance. Arrange them into a photo essay, and you will have a book of spiritual memories that shows your growing relationship with God.
For the collector, a scrapbook
A popular going-away gift from groups is a memory scrapbook of photos, mementos, and notes. Why not make a scrapbook of memories for or about God? Count your blessings. Find meaningful cutouts or paste-ins; collect items that have a “this is what You have done to me” theme; add quotations, pictures, souvenirs, and keepsakes from places visited and experiences encountered. Write thank-You notes for the times you realized God’s presence or sensed divine intervention in your day-to-day life, or just because. Print out special Bible verses on decorative paper, add other touches, and you’ll soon have a scrapbook full of guidance and praise. (Be sure to date each entry.)
Loving blank books
As a writer, I have a shelf full of journals of varying sites and styles filled with thoughts, memories, and quotations. Currently I favor small, hardcover, spiral-bound notebooks with lines. “I’m also a “sticky note” person, who scratches down thoughts and ideas. When a quotation or a Bible passage catches my attention, I print it out on colorful paper, sized and shaped to the moment, paste it into my journal, and write around and about it. As I look back, I can see god’s guidance through the thoughts, Bible verses, and inspiring quotations I’ve pasted in, and I am encouraged to trust Him to lead and guide me in the future.
Regardless of your style or approach, devotional journaling should include the three basic elements of personal worship: Bible study, prayer, and self-examination. The Bible because, it is God’s revelation of Himself to us and is the main place where we can get to know Him better. Prayer because, whether expressed in word or some other form, it is the opening of the heart to God. Self-examination because it helps to keep us on track with Him.
Remember, whatever your interests, your talents, or your calling, there is a devotional style just for you. Find it, try it, and you can heighten your awareness of God’s presence in your everyday life.
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