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3 Ways Journaling Can Grow Your Faith

3 Ways Journaling Can Grow Your Faith

My 12-year-old self always had a diary in her hand. After school, I’d whisk to my room to record the cares of the day. I found safety in writing, behind the closed door with a poster of Shaun Cassidy staring at me. Then I’d lock my thoughts inside the pages and hide the tiny silver key in my Holly Hobbie jewelry box.

Writing things down seemed to make everything better.

Even today a crisp new journal is one of my favorite things. The lined pages and satin ribbon place-marker open up a world of possibilities. New hopes and dreams ready to be discovered through my written words. Journaling has always had a positive effect on many aspects of my life. I’ve realized in recent years, it can impact our faith walk as well.

1. Journaling Can Help Us Deal with Stress

A few short years ago, stress hit our family hard. A rough parenting season meant sleepless nights and stress-filled days for this weary mom. It wasn’t something I wanted to talk about, so I kept it tucked inside where it grew and festered into full-blown panic.

One day my husband suggested I write it all down. My thoughts, my fears, and my feelings. To hold nothing back. Not for an audience, but for myself. In all the challenges I had forgotten how therapeutic writing could be for me. My husband’s thoughtful idea brought much-needed clarity to my cluttered heart.

Philippians 4:6 encourages us with this, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Yet many times the stress gets so overwhelming, I can’t formulate a coherent thought, much less know what my request is.

Overloaded minds can lead to physical and spiritual weariness. Sometimes we need a way to gather those anxious thoughts as we give them to God. Journaling can help ease stress and usher in peace.

According to a study published by Cambridge University Press, “Writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events has been found to result in improvements in both physical and psychological health.” In today’s climate of increased mental health concerns, journaling may be a simple solution to a growing issue. The basic truth is this. Writing about stressful situations helps us process through trials and feel better.

As well, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, “One of the ways to deal with any overwhelming emotion is to find a healthy way to express yourself. This makes a journal a helpful tool in managing your mental health. Journaling can help you manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression.” 

2. Journaling Can Help Improve Focus and Memory

I never considered myself a star student, (I don’t think my teachers did either.) But there are a few things I can easily recall from those early years in school. Multiplication tables, the names of states in alphabetical order, and conjugated verbs. What do all these have in common? My teachers assigned the task of writing them down. Over, and over, and over.

Funny thing that I would decide to become a teacher myself, especially after all the rote memory work I was forced to do. But today I’d like to issue a public apology and a thank you to my teachers. Because from their assignments I discovered something valuable. Writing things down helps my memory.

“Some physicians say handwriting could be a good cognitive exercise for baby boomers working to keep their minds sharp as they age.” This idea from an article in the Wall Street Journal offers inspiration for those of us seeing how age can affect our memory. Keeping a sharp mind is more important now than ever. Memorizing came more naturally in the sixth grade, so today I’ll take all the help I can get!

This concept can have an impact on Scripture memorization, too. Earlier this year a friend challenged me to join her in writing a verse a day. That practice not only fuels my morning with the goodness of God’s Word, but it also helps me memorize more verses. And the more we commit God’s Word to memory, the more He will be able to bring it back to mind when we need it.

John 14:26 confirms this truth. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Holy Scripture is “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12). Writing it down helps increase the impact God’s Word has on our daily lives.

3. Journaling Can Show Us How God Is Working

So many stories of victory in the Bible point to the practice of writing down what God has done. Jeremiah was instructed by the Lord to “write all the words which I have spoken to you in a book” (Jeremiah 30:2). Luke felt it fitting for him to “write it out for you…” (Luke 1:3). But one moment stands out as evidence to the power of writing about God’s greatness.

“And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord” (Joshua 24:26).

After years of wandering, the Israelites finally reached a time of rest in the Promised Land. Joshua had seen it all and now neared his time to leave this earth. As he gave the people a final charge, he knew they’d one day struggle to hold onto the hope. They needed a reminder of the victories they’d been given by God.

He had to ensure they would “cling tightly to the Lord” through difficult times. (Joshua 23:8) So he wrote it all down. Joshua’s call to write was a bit different from keeping a daily journal; it was available for all to read. But the essence of the practice hasn’t changed. Writing about our miracle moments and answered prayers will help us hold onto hope, no matter what.

Thinking back on the difficult seasons of my life, I’m thankful my husband encouraged me to journal again. I can revisit those moments when I didn’t know how I’d make it through— moments God worked in miraculous ways. I see answered prayers and unexpected joy. He kept every promise to my family. And we are better today because of those experiences. Journaling helped renew my faith and keep me focused on God’s eternal promises.

If you’re feeling buried today under the weight of life’s struggles, consider picking up a journal. Set aside time to write without setting any expectations on yourself. No pressure, just pouring out your heart on paper. Don’t worry; no one else needs to read it but you.

Not sure where to start? Your favorite verse is a great way to get pen to paper. As you release your thoughts onto the page, I pray you will feel refreshed, inspired, and restored to hope. May writing impact your faith in amazing new ways, just like it has for me.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Hannah Olinger

For more spiritual growth resources, check out the 5-day email study Walking with Rahab by today’s devotion writer, Kristine Brown. You’ll find weekly encouragement to help you “become more than yourself through God’s Word” at her website, kristinebrown.net. Kristine is the author of the book, Cinched: Living with Unwavering Trust in an Unfailing Godand the companion workbook.

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