Can a Journal Bring You Closer to God?Do you want to become more aware of God’s presence in your daily life? To learn to speak to Him in your own words? When prayer seems dry and you are not hearing the voice of God, a prayer journal can become a pivotal tool for improving your spiritual life. You’ll be in good company! Lots of saints kept spiritual journals or diaries, including St. Faustina, St. Bernadette, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Perpetua, and many others.
HOW TO KEEP A PRAYER JOURNALThere are numerous ways to keep a prayer journal or spiritual diary. If you are interested but don’t know where to start, here are some tips on what to write:
HEAR HIM:The more you listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice, the easier it gets to hear it. Writing about how the Spirit is working in your life can, over time, make you more conscious of God's will. Have you ever had that sudden inspiration to say or do something, but repressed it because it was outside your comfort zone? Keep a record in your journal of the times you felt God nudge you like this, and whether you responded. It becomes a brief examination of conscience and makes you sensitive to whether you are staying open to God's calls. You might also include any inspiring words from others or events through which God spoke to you that day.
REMEMBER TO ASK:Recall all the times you’ve promised, “I’ll keep you in my prayers!” Do you always remember? It helps to keep a list of prayer intentions - not just other people's, but your own intentions as well. Looking back on your petitions to God from months ago can make you aware of all the good He has worked in your life. Especially if you are still facing difficult times, looking back on even the smallest blessings can be a reminder of God’s love. If certain things in your life are unclear and you have unanswered questions, write these down, too. Ask for clarity. Later, reading over past questions, you may realize that many of them have been answered.
GIVE THANKS & PRAISE:Don’t stop at requests and petitions – praise Him! Express how much you love Him and how much more you want to love Him. Offer your day and your work to God. Thank Him for specific blessings. It’s important to give thanks not only for life changing blessings like a new job or restored health, but also for the littlest things. The more you thank God for everyday graces, the more you will remember Him as you go about your day. Plus, you’ll start to realize you have more little blessings than you can count.
Choose a journal that is a comfortable size and type for you, and use your own style of expression (St. John of the Cross even incorporated poetry into his spiritual writing). You can make tabs to separate prayers of thanksgiving, petitions and inspirations, or you can combine everything into one daily entry. The writing will be between you and God, so don’t get too caught up in avoiding spelling errors or choosing the right words. As long as you can read it, it will be fine.
Do you have tips on writing to improve your spiritual life, or a different method of journaling? We're interested - please comment to share your ideas with us!
This article has been updated and was originally published in April 2014. © The Catholic Company