The challenge with spiritual disciplines is the "discipline" part. To say something requires discipline makes it feel like a "check-the-box" duty, not something enjoyable. We understand that we are referring to the spiritual practices that help us abide with Christ and grow deeper in our relationship with God. Most of us would agree that without regular connection and communication with God, our relationship will suffer.
Growing up in the faith, I have experimented with a variety of spiritual disciplines. At age 15, I felt compelled to get up at 5:00 AM to read my Bible and pray. I was able to keep the commitment for six-months until I realized that the "crack of dawn" was not required by God. Over the years, in different seasons, I have tried various approaches to keep my walk with God fresh.
A few years ago, a friend encourage me to add journaling to my time with the Lord. I have found it to be an effective approach for the following reasons.
1. It forces me to slow down - It takes time to write. The discipline has been helpful because if I'm not careful, it's easy to speed through my quiet time and move on to other responsibilities.
2. It facilitates meditation on the scripture and makes me process my thoughts - Journaling causes me to engage with the scripture, to ask questions, and to look for points of application. If I'm just reading the Bible, I don't always do this.
In both Joshua chapter one and Psalm one, the Lord speaks of keeping the Word of God on our hearts day and night. This is the process of meditation or repeatedly thinking of the scripture.
3. I tend to remember things I write down - There's an old saying that I believe is true: "the shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory." There is even scientific research to prove we remember more of what we write down.
4. It gives me a record of what God is doing in my life. It's so rewarding to read what God was saying to me a year ago.
5. I'm more engaged and it's harder for my mind to wander. We all know what it's like to begin praying or reading the Bible and have our minds wander to other things. Journaling helps me focus my thoughts on the Word of God.
If you have never used journaling in your daily time with God, here are some ways to get started. Grab a journal and write a short (or long) note under each heading.
Use the SOAP method
Use the DRAW method
Use the PRAY method
I encourage you to use a variety of strategies to keep your time with the Lord fresh and consistent. At times, instead of the approaches I mentioned, you can use these prompts to write during your time with the Lord.
When you make this a spiritual habit, I believe you’ll start to see some growth in your spiritual life over time. I think you’ll see the benefits of this practice if you make it a part of your daily routine!
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