Honor your story. Use your journal as a place to get to know more about yourself and befriend yourself, remembering that your identity is rooted in the fact that God made you and loves you. Reflect on your name by writing it across the top of a journal page and recording the memories, feelings, and stories connected to your name. Consider what names God might use to describe you, and journal a prayer to God responding to those names. Notice when you’ve thought negatively about yourself, and start to write positively about yourself in your journal. Learn how to bless yourself by describing yourself in positive ways.

Mine beneath the surface of your life. Go deeper than just recording events in your journal. Aim to express your reactions to the events you experience, writing meaningful thoughts and feelings you have rather than just what’s happened lately in your life. Pray about the various parts of your life – your family and friends, your work, your health, etc. – and ask God to show you what He would like you to reflect on more deeply in your journal. Once you’ve chosen a topic, free write about it for a while. Then draw a map of that area of your life, with words or pictures representing your experiences related to that area and how you think and feel about it. Notice how you may have changed what you believe about that area of your life over time, and write about those changes. Consider what actions your journal entries are urging you to take in response to what you’ve written about this area of your life: Maybe you feel compelled to apologize to someone, seek help to solve a problem, or take some other kind of action. Accept God’s invitation to listen to His prompting through your journal and act on it.

Bless your body. Try journaling soon after you do some form of physical exercise, and see if you come up with new insights when you exercise your mind after exercising your body. You may notice a spurt of creativity. Journal about how you might embody Christ’s compassion to the people for whom you’re praying, such as encouraging someone with a call or card, or speaking up for someone who’s being mistreated. Think about a part of your body that you don’t particularly like, and consider what this part of your body might say to you if you gave it a chance to speak through your journal. Write that down. Then write a prayer to God, asking Him to help you accept that part of your body as something beautiful because He made it. Tell your body’s story, listing significant physical events in your life, such as giving birth to your children, struggling with an eating disorder, or learning to play a sport. Be sure to respond to what you’ve written, describing how you feel about your body’s story.

Reflect on the past. Ask God to shed His light on your past to help you see it from His perspective. Avoid either romanticizing or demonizing your past; recognize that even though you’ve sinned in the past, God can redeem it all and continues to love you. List some things for which you’re thankful, and write a prayer of gratitude to God. As you reflect on your past, pray for discernment about what you need to let go of and what you need to hold on to. Consider how well you have and haven’t discerned God’s voice guiding you in the past, and describe some of the ways God has led you to where you are now in your journey with Him.

Look forward. Use your journal to imagine your future. Make a list of 100 things you want to do or be before you die, and don’t worry about the practicality of some of your desires. Then read through your list and notice what desires you’ve emphasized or repeated. Consider why those desires mean the most to you and what fears may be related to them. Ask God to help you consider what seeds you’re planting in your own life and the lives of those around you – seeds that will produce good fruit, or seeds that will lead to bad results. Think of a particular concern you have, and write about your feelings as you’re waiting to see how God will answer your prayers about it. Write down your questions for God and wait about a week, listening for any answers you might receive. Then, after the week is over, write down any new insights you now have about the situation. List some of the ways you’ve been disappointed lately and honestly record your feelings about them. Then describe some specific ways you can continue to live in hope, trusting in God’s goodness despite your disappointments.