Writing is therapy to me. And has been for a long, long time. I have prayer journals dating back to my sophomore year of high school—those are the most interesting to read through again. Why are we so weird in high school?
Rather than praying aloud sometimes, I write down my prayers. Instead of “Dear Diary” or something like that, I have written out every entry to God. My hand often cramps after writing out an entry. Everything I wouldn’t have thought of saying out loud instead flows through the pen and onto the lined pages.
Okay, so I like to write. And I like to write to God. You probably understood that by the first sentence. Here’s why I think that you (yes, even you non-writers) should keep a journal, too.
Writing down prayers, troubles, fears, joys, and whatever else, gives you the chance to reflect. You can go back to a forgotten prayer on a specific date to see how God has wonderfully answered it. You can see the circumstance that you never thought that you’d get out of or the gift that you never thought you’d receive. And, you can see how God works. You can see Him right in front of your eyes and within the palm of your hands. Most importantly, you can see how He has intentionally reached out to you in all things—in your small moments and large circumstances.
Let me give you a real life excerpt (that brought me to snotty tears).
I have a prayer journal entry from my junior year of high school. In this prayer, I ask God:
“Lord, I’ve been thinking a lot about future careers. Write or teach. I don’t know what else I would be capable of doing and what I’d enjoy more than those things. I know its still early enough for me to decide things like that, Father, but I wanted to lay my heart out in front of you.”
Literally an entry later, I recount an event that happened where Dad clearly presented what He wanted me to do with my adult life. I talk about how I was on a panel for Taiwanese ladies that came to visit and to check out our school. I write:
“At the end of the meeting, I went to one of the ladies and gave her a handshake goodbye, said it was nice to meet her, and I apologized for my clothing. She told me I was too cute and kept ranting on about me visiting Taiwan. So, she digs into her purse and hands me a business card. I thank her and then I turn the card over to the English side [the other side was entirely in Taiwanese], and it says, ‘English Teaching Resource Center.’”
Like, what. God answered that prayer so diligently. And, I still can read and remember that today—as an English teacher to be.
One of the apostles, Stephen, demonstrates this same type of reflection. In his speech to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:1-53), Stephen recounts Old Testament history, reminding the Jewish leaders of what their ancestors went through and how God came through. This is history that the leaders knew—history that was written down to be remembered. Their negligence to reflect on this history cause them to reject Jesus and to persecute those who believe in Him. Even in Acts, we can see the importance of intentional reflection to remain close to Dad.
This is why I think that you should begin keeping a journal.
Looking back on past prayers and events helps us to review God’s grace and mercy—to trust Him in our present. We can tangibly see how He never gives up and never fails, relentlessly loving us. And, we can read how God has been so good in our lives over time.
Try it out for a chunk of time and see how He uses it to reveal Himself in your life!
words by Kayla Scott and photo by Abby Melrose