A faith journal is a great way to connect with the deeper things in your life.
After all, there is more to life than your task list. You know in your heart that you are here for a purpose. At a core level, your faith is more important to you than many of the other things that catch you up in daily life.
So when news updates, tabloid headlines, office gossip, or reality TV make you cynical, it helps to have a daily practice in a faith journal to reconnect you to what your heart knows to be true.
Here are five ways a faith journal can inspire your spiritual life:
1. Take prayer out of your head and put it on paper.
Whether you pray all day long or have a set time for devotion, taking time to write out your prayers can make them more tangible.
There are a number of ways to do this:
- Flow words onto paper–steady streams of consciousness as you pour out your heart
- Write out your prayers as a bullet list (this makes them easy to review later)
- Fold your paper in half and write your prayer on one side of the paper, ask God to speak to you, and then free write on the other side as inspired words come to you
Keeping a prayer journal makes prayers more solid. It makes it easier to tie the things about which we are praying to the actions that are occurring in our lives. One of the most effective parts of keeping a prayer journal is reviewing what we’ve written periodically, because it helps us see where our prayers have been answered.
2. Scripture is powerful when read, and even more powerful when journaled.
There are many ways to journal scripture. You might write whatever text is is speaking to you over and over again on a page. (Kind of like writing sentences when you were in school, only it won’t feel like punishment.)
You can also journal scripture using the Christian monastic practice of Lectio Divina – a contemplative practice that began in the 6th century. There are four movements to Lectio Divina:
- Read the passage (lectio)
- Meditate on it (meditatio)
- Pray about it (oratio)
- Contemplate the passage (contemplatio)
You can do all of this internally, but you can also do it on paper as a “scripture journaling” process, capturing your insights along the way.
For people of Christian and Jewish faiths, Crossway makes a scripture journal which includes the text on one page with a blank page directly across from it, making it easy to both read and journal in the same place. You can buy whole sets or individual books on Amazon.
Keeping a scripture journal can deepen your relationship to the text that sets your path.
3. Praying in color is lighthearted and beautiful.
A twist on the prayer journal is the practice of “praying in color” – a method by Sybil MacBeth that she shares in the book Praying in Color.
Sybil takes the name of a person she is praying for and draws a shape around it, then embellishes it to hold her attention on the person she is lifting up in prayer. The cool part of this practice is that when we are praying for people, we often run out of words. Drawing and coloring hold our attention in a different way than simply writing.
Another way that coloring is effective as a spiritual journaling practice is in coloring mandalas. Mandalas are circles filled with geometric shapes repeated in symmetrical patterns. Many rose windows in cathedrals are mandalas, and in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, mandalas are an object to help focus meditation.
Coloring mandalas is meditative and relaxing. While you can draw them, you can also purchase pre-printed coloring books with a variety of mandalas to color.
4. Journal gratitude as a spiritual discipline.
Journaling what we are thankful for has been scientifically proven to provide psychological, interpersonal, and physical benefits–including boosting our immune system. It is so powerful and popular that it shows up under two separate headings in our How to Journal article.
Gratitude can be practiced as a spiritual discipline.
Brett and Kate McKay write, “While basic gratitude is passively evoked by external events, of the exclusively positive variety, the spiritual discipline of gratitude is intentionally chosen, deliberately trained, and exercised in all circumstances. It is not dependent on changing conditions, but on mindset. It is not waited for, but pursued.”
McKay continues, “the presence of gratitude counteracts the negative vices — envy, resentment, and greed — that its absence begets. When you are grateful for what you have, you spend less time comparing yourself to others, and less time making poor, fruitless decisions based on those comparisons.” McKay advocates, “Recognizing that the good in one’s life comes at least partially from outside the self develops a vital sense of humility, as well as the motivation to reciprocate these gifts and return goodness for goodness by practicing the positive virtues. Striving to do the right thing out of simple duty can be laudable, but duty is at best a mere back-up motivation to a superior and more spontaneous source: joy and thankfulness.”
Keeping a gratitude journal can be simple. Just focus your attention and say thank you. Over time, the practice creates internal shifts that increase joy.
5. Create a habit tracker to keep yourself on point.
Using a habit tracker in your faith journal helps you see your progress–even when those goals are spiritual. You might want to track:
- Generosity and donations
- Volunteer hours
- Prayer or meditation time
- Scripture reading–especially if you have a goal like memorizing certain passages or reading through a text in a year
- Sending thank you notes or encouragement to friends
The benefit of using your journal as a habit tracker is that it creates a visual picture of what you are doing (and daily visual evidence of our own progress is motivating). So no matter which spiritual habits you want to improve in your life, your faith journal can help support you in making them consistent.
(Want to see what this looks like? Check out our article on How to Create a Bullet Journal Habit Tracker that Works for You.)
A faith journal reconnects you to your heart.
It’s easy for the volume to get turned down on our faith when there is so much that is louder and more demanding.
Your journal reconnects you.
It gives you space to breathe and remember what matters most.
Best of all, it’s a place for faith, hope, and love to take up tangible space. It’s something you can touch and feel; a reminder of what is most real.
Want more ways on how to journal? Get our free ebook: How to Journal: 28 Methods and Hundreds of Resources when you subscribe.
Thank you for sharing knowledge and experiences. I have begun this type of habit, sketching, etc. and was distracted for a time. Reading your post is a good reminder of how enriching this kind of “Bible Study” really is.
Elizabeth, thanks for taking a moment to share your experience. I’ve found this practice to be transformative!