God speaks to us through journaling. A way to enrich your quiet time with the Lord and hear His voice is through the discipline of journaling.
Journaling is writing down what is in your heart — your thoughts, prayers, fears, disappointments, joys and miracles in your life. Sometimes you may record a Scripture that God quickens to you. Did you ever experience a verse almost leaping off the pages of the Bible during a time alone with God? You may have read it one thousand times, but this time it really “grabs” you. God is speaking to you! Write it down so you do not lose it when you need it most. Proverbs says, “Treasure my commandments within you … Write them down on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 7:1-3).
I have heard someone say that the only thing required of journaling is honesty. Journalling is like keeping a spiritual diary. Writing down your honest thoughts and God’s responses to your requests, thoughts, feelings, and insights provides a way of remembering God’s activity in your life. A journal helps you to look back over time and see a written record of the Lord’s dealings with your life.
When the prophet Habakkuk needed an answer from the Lord, the Lord replied by mentioning the importance of writing down what He said to him and waiting for a reply.
Habakkuk 2:1-3 “I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the LORD answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.’”
Habakkuk was a prophet who was seeking to hear God speak. First he went to a quiet place where he would be alone and wait for God to speak. He listens and “looks to hear what God will say.” When God begins to speak, He tells Habakkuk to record the vision that he is sensing in his heart. God clearly showed His prophet how to dialogue with Him by using the combination of coming to a quiet place, listening and journaling.
Writing down what God is speaking to you becomes a reminder of the revelation God has given to you that has not yet come to pass. When the Lord speaks to me, I write it down so I do not lose it. There are things God spoke to me more than 20 years ago that are only now coming to pass. And those revelations often look much different than I expected. If I had not written them down, I would no longer have them to help guide me into what God has for me today.
Journaling is really a method to be used to help you learn to discern God’s voice. In “Communion With God,” Mark and Patti Virkler believe one of the greatest benefits of using a journal during time spent with the Lord is that it allows you “to receive freely the spontaneous flow of ideas that come to your mind, in faith believing that they are from Jesus, without short-circuiting them by subjecting them to rational and sensory doubts.” Mark further explains it like this:
“I found that before I began keeping a journal, I would ask God for an answer to a question, and as soon as an idea came into my mind, I would immediately question whether the idea was from God or from self; and, in so doing, I was short-circuiting the intuitive flow of the Spirit by subjecting it to rational doubt. I would get one idea from God and doubt that it was from Him, and therefore get no more. Now, by writing it down, I can receive whole pages in faith,. Knowing I will have ample time to test it later. Maintaining a journal keeps your mind occupied (therefore, out of the way) and on track as you are receiving God’s words.”
Some people object to journaling because they compare it to Satan’s counterpart — automatic writing. Journaling is not to be confused with demonically inspirited automatic writing which allows you to be overtaken by a spirit that controls your hand to write down what a voice is telling you. Instead, biblical journaling comes from the flow of ideas birthed by God in your heart and then writing those thoughts down with a hand under your own control. These spontaneous thoughts, feelings, and impressions should always be tested and examined later to be sure that they line up with Scripture.
Journaling is really just a written record of how God has been working in your life. God may speak to you about something today that you may need then years down the road. It is a way to look back over the years and see how God has been faithful to hear and answer your prayers and discover how you have grown spiritually. It is a way of holding yourself accountable to move on to spiritual maturity.
Journaling can also be a form of meditative worship. Alone with God, we can explore our passion for the Lord as we write what is on our hearts to God.
You can use a simple spiral notebook or a fancier hardbound journal to keep track of your impressions, inspired thoughts and Scriptures as you write down what God is speaking to you. Your journal could even be your computer where you type your thoughts during your quiet time with God. I have heard of some who make an audio recording of the thoughts coming to them during their time with God. Any of these methods of keeping track of hearing from God are valuable ones.
Cultivating an ever-deepening relationship with the Lord through journaling helps you to clearly think through what you believe the Lord is speaking to you about. You can test it with the Scriptures and read it from time to time to see how your mind, heart, and spirit have been renewed by the Lord. You will discover that you have learned to converse with God as you focus the eyes of your heart on God and receive fresh words from Him each day.