Next to the Bible, the book that has helped me the most in my walk with the Lord is a book I wrote. Actually, it’s an eight-volume set.
Before you think I’m boastful, let me give two clarifications:
First, these volumes are unpublished, and I trust they always will be.
Second, I’m confident that they would not be helpful to you. That is, mine wouldn’t help you. But yours of the same type would help you.
You’ve probably guessed the volumes I’m referring to—my journals.
I began journaling in a purposed way when I was thirteen. And it was all due to my older sister’s influence. I looked up to everything Michele did, so when she began keeping a devotional journal, I did too. Eight volumes later, I’m so glad I did.
Keeping a journal transformed my walk with the Lord. The immediate results were life-changing, and the long-term benefits have been rewarding.
I was already reading my Bible more or less daily. I was on a schedule to read through in the year, and I was in the middle of Psalms. But once I started journaling, my quiet time took on a totally new perspective (proven by the fact that I still remember where in the Bible I was reading when I began).
If you were to look at that first journal (which I have zero intention of showing you), you would probably be struck with how simple the entries are.
Job 16:21 ~ “O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbor!” I need to pray more for others!
(Yes, I used the tilde between the reference and the verse. And, no, my application wasn’t exegetically sound!)
Acts 4:13 ~ “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” When I speak, I want people to be able to tell that I have been with Jesus.
As you can see, often, all I recorded was a simple verse and an application from it. But through doing this, I learned significant truths:
- I learned that God would speak to me through His Word—daily.
- I learned that God spoke to me through my scheduled reading according to my current needs.
- I learned that God’s Word contains pertinent guidance for my present stage of life.
- [Best of all:] I learned that God wanted to reveal Himself to me on a personal level, and I got to know Him through His Word.
The only difference before and after this transformation was my journal—and the level of accountability and sincerity it brought to my Bible reading.
As I mentioned, I was already reading the Bible. But beginning a devotional journal transformed my reading…and my life.
Looking back, I’m surprised I did anything this simple. I have a tendency to make things more difficult than they are, and I’ve always had a certain attraction to complicated systems and strategies.
But beginning a devotional journal was the one glorious exception, and I’m thankful I kept it simple.
This was my daily practice (and it can be yours, too):
- Find an alone place with my Bible, journal, and a pen.
- Ask God to speak to me through His Word.
- Read the assigned portion in my Bible reading schedule, looking for one verse I could apply to my life.
- Write out the verse and a one or two sentence application.
I trust I’ve grown over the years in my Scripture study and application skills, but the basic routine is the same today. I open God’s Word and ask Him to apply it to my life. And He still does. And I still record many of those insights.
Today, my set of journals are a treasure to me. They record the faithfulness and patience of God in my life. They record an ongoing journey with the Lord through His Word. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
But again, my journals won’t help you. Your journal would help you.
If you haven’t already, I’d like to challenge you to begin your own recorded journey of walking with the Lord.
It’s simple. Find a notebook, open your Bible, listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice, and record the application.
God promises He will meet the seeking heart: “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you…” (James 4:9).