Journaling is an often misunderstood practice; Spiritual Journaling is probably even less understood.
Journaling in general is used in many contexts – for some, journaling is just making a list of the day’s activities; for others it is a form of self-examination. It is used in therapy groups, recovery groups, school groups (especially for ADD students), and others.
But I want to talk specifically here about Spiritual Journaling. Max Lucado (in “God Came Near”, p. 161) has a beautiful quote
that I think fits very well with the practice of Spiritual Journaling. He writes “Christianity in its purest form is nothing more than seeing Jesus.” Furthermore, “Christian Service in its purest form is nothing more than imitating the one whom we see. To see His majesty and to imitate Him,that is the sum of Christianity.”
Spiritual Journaling is one type of Contemplative Practice. It is used differently by some who engage in non-Christian spiritual practices. While understanding on the one hand that these groups have as much right as any other group to utilize Contemplative Practices in any way they see fit and for any purpose they see fit, it must be said that there is a distinctive place for Contemplative Practices among traditional Christian practices. My understanding and way of practicing Spiritual Journaling is to combine a personal experience with a word of Scripture or a well known Christian concept. Allow me to give an example:
One day I decided to do my wife a favor and I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items. Grocery shopping is not one of my favorite things to do to begin with and in this case, I ended up in the “Express Line” behind a lady with more than 20 items who still thought she deserved to be in the express line too. My initial, purely human response, of course, was to get her attention and “point out” to her that she did not qualify for being in the Express lane. I caught myself instead and said, more compassionately, “you must be having a really busy day today.” She turned around with a tired, sad expression on her face. She said “You have no idea!” I reached in my pocket and pulled out a “Business Card” that clearly identifies me as a minister. As I handed it to her I said “If there is any way you think having someone to talk with could be helpful, please give me a call.” I asked for her first name, telling her that I would be praying that her load would be lightened.”
I took advantage of the “open door” and asked here if she was a Christian. She acknowledged that she attended a Church occasionally. I said, “I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Scripture but Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30 “Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest….for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” “I think Jesus wants to help lift your burden. Think about it. If you would like to talk further, give me a call.”
To me, this entry is an example of both a useful spiritual journal entry AND a way of doing “evangelism” by showing true concern and compassion.