I’ve inherited a lot from my mother — an irrational love for jhumkas, a deep appreciation of the Tamil culture, a passion for writing, a bizarre obsession with flowers and so many other wonderful things. But the thing I’m the most grateful for is the habit of journaling.
I must have been in primary school when I started writing a diary and it very quickly became a safe space for me. I’d run home from school and fill pages with stories about girls who made fun of my skin color, teachers that I admired, subjects that I hated, people that I wish I’d never have to see again, rants about my brother, and so many things that seem silly now. Of course, my diaries were my only private space in the 200 sq. ft. tiny home that I grew up in along with my parents and brother.
I also remember having a diary with a lock on it! Remember those?
As I grew up, my stories turned into prayers. I’d start every entry with a “Dear Father” or “Hi, Lord” or in some very cool teenage phases even “Wassup, Jesus”. I didn’t realize every time I poured my heart out, these words I was writing was building a habit in me — a habit that would stick for life — journaling!
Today, journaling is a part of who I am. It is second nature to me. It’s my PRIMARY form of prayer. When I close my eyes and pray, I know God hears the words I’ve said; and when I journal, I know God reads those words, too — but I have the added bonus of going back and reading these prayers myself, too.
I used to fill up physical diaries every single year for as long as I remember, but for the past few years, I’ve been journaling digitally. I’ve moved to using Evernote, an app on my phone, to write daily.
Today, I want to make a case for journaling and hopefully compel you inculcate this POWERFUL prayer practice in your life.
Writing is good but writing in the Presence of God is powerful. Your writing can change the world but your journaling will change you.
Who is your Biblical role model? Mine is David and he journaled regularly. What we call Psalms today are basically excerpts from his personal journal where he poured his heart out to God. He wasn’t writing a book. He wasn’t trying to make history. He wasn’t hoping future generations would turn his journal notes into worship songs. No, no, no. David had found a safe space in his journal and it was how he spoke to God. A read through the book of Psalms will show you David had bad days, good days, days when he wished the worst for his enemies, days when he admitted his weaknesses, days when he was thankful, days when he was depressed, days when he battled doubt — all sorts of days. Through it all, he stayed faithful to his habit of writing what he felt to God. He didn’t have a contract with a publishing house for his journals. They weren’t politically correct. They’re raw and they’re real and they’re a beautiful record of his erratic journey with God.
The thing about journaling daily is that it is a very personal experience. You don’t have to have fancy vocabulary, perfectly framed sentences, compelling phrases and extravagant expressions. Your writing is for an audience of one.
Today, I want to encourage you to start journaling. How, you may ask, if you’ve never done this before. Here are some pointers that can help you:
- First things first, you don’t need to be a writer to journal; you just need to be able to write. Journaling isn’t like writing to get published or blogging for an audience. It is about developing the habit of pouring your heart out to God in a diary – physical or digital.
- Secondly, journaling is a private and personal activity. Try and keep it that way. Ensure your diary is in a safe place or better still use an app like Evernote to journal which can only be accessed with a pass-code. Your journals are your letters to God.
- Choose a time and a place to journal which is free of distractions. I usually open Evernote in the morning and start my journal note for the day. Then, through the day, four to five times, I visit it to write down thoughts, prayers, notes, rants, etc.
- Are you a creative person? Make your journaling time creative. You can add craft, colors, paints, music and other elements to your journaling time.
I hope that you are encouraged to start today! I hope that you are stirred to get a diary or your phone and start writing to God. I hope that this transforms your prayer life, as it has mine.
To be honest, I’ve always struggled to pray at length alone — seated in one place with my eyes closed! My mind is travelling the world and thinking a billion thoughts a second. But, when I write, everything quiets down and I’m all in. My hands are moving and my mind is fixed on what I’m writing. My prayer life doesn’t feel dull and I’m able to engage with the Holy Spirit better.
If this is you and you are struggling with your prayer life too, give journaling a shot. It’s talking to God but in writing. It is powerful and it WILL CHANGE YOU!
I hope to write more about journaling in the coming week. If you need help getting started and would like to chat with me about it, get in touch with me. Comment below or write to me directly. I’d love to help you start this journey and make it count!