“Journaling reminds us to attend to the lover of our soul”
Last week I visited a Benedictine Monastery in Kent. As part of my usual practice, I pack all my physical journals from over the years into my rucksack and depart for my destination.
Once I have settled in my room, I tend to commit a portion of my retreat time to reflecting on my journal entries. My goal is simple, work out what has God been saying to me? In many ways, I treat the process like a treasure hunt. I hunt for answered prayers or notes of what God has said to me about myself or others.
I often find this process encouraging. There are times I find answered prayers and times that I come across things that made me anxious in a season of life but now they are no longer a cause for concern. These treasures, when found, carry with them a source of God’s comfort.
On my retreat last week, I found this simple prayer that I wrote some years back:
Precious Father, At the rising of your call May I be found not wanting Keep me. Precious Son, As I follow your call to deliver May I be found not wanting Keep me. Precious Spirit, When the call seems to be won Help me to my knees Keep me.
Reading this prayer and a few other thoughts scribbled alongside it – almost illegible, I came to tears.
I remembered the why behind the prayer and the feelings associated with the words. Reading these words in 2023, I can confidently say, "God has been faithful to me" on my journey. At that very moment, my heart flooded with thanksgiving, and I was overcome with a need to sing. Remembering I was in a Benedictine Monastery where worshipful silence is the core tenet of community life, I found a nearby chapel where I could sing. And I sang my lungs off as best as I could in the right key of course. Thank God no one was around 😂
Now, I would be the first to admit that I am still on a journey to consistently journaling, but I have always found the process encouraging and one that I seek to commit to. Journaling my journey encourages my heart to attend to a loving God who responds to my cries. He is very faithful, and journalling has helped this wandering heart to worship him.
The Psalmist says:
You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as you promised. I believe in your commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge. I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word. You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees. Arrogant people smear me with lies, but in truth I obey your commandments with all my heart. Their hearts are dull and stupid, but I delight in your instructions. My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver.
Psalms 119:65-72 NLT