I like having things in writing. They're more solid that way, more tangible. Now, I know that's not true for every person. Some prefer other mediums for keeping certain thoughts. I totally understand that. Video, in particular, has an important place in my heart. But writing is my first love.
I've taken notes in church for years, since I was old enough to understand what the pastor was saying. It helps me stay focused and lets me look back on things I've learned. I've also kept a personal journal for a very long time. I'm not always consistent with it, but it is an invaluable part of my life.
Connected to both of those things but separate is my prayer journal. I call it that, but it's really a devotion journal. Sometimes it's just written prayers. Other times it includes my thoughts on my Bible reading. With that, too, I'm not always consistent, but I really enjoy having it, and I'd like to share with you why.
I process things by writing them. This, I know, is not true for everyone. For me, though, it has been proved time and time again. When I'm struggling to understand or come to terms with something, I write it. More often than not, clarity follows. My prayer/devotional journal helps me take my angst, worry, confusion, and everything else and process it. For example:
"Many people view the New Year as a fresh start. And it certainly can be. I need a direction to go, God. I'm tired of wasting my days. What do You want me to do, Lord?" - January 6, 2014
The written words help me remember to give everything to God. There's something really powerful for me about directly addressing God in writing. It changes my focus, putting it on Him, where it should be. In addition, looking on past entries can be a really comforting experience for me. I see myself putting my trust in God, and I see where He's taken me. Both give me strength for the present. In a way, these entries can act as my stones of remembrance, like the Israelites were called to set up. Entries like this help me stay grounded:
"Yesterday at church I raised my hands, giving everything to You. I know I've let boys and my love of safety get between me and You. And I don't want it to be that way anymore. I don't want anything, even my writing, to come before You. Don't let me forget that." – March 24, 2014
"Why do I ever doubt You, Lord? You have never let me down; everything You do proves itself to be for my good. Yet how quickly I turn my eyes away and let fear engulf me. That's not how I want to live. You have taught me a very important lesson in this month about trust and anxiety. You worked the school process out so I could start this semester. You provided books at good prices; You got them here when I needed them. You gave a fantastic schedule and professors that I like. You provided a car and money. Your hand has moved so obviously in this process, proving that my anxiety was totally pointless." – January 16, 2016
Written devotions help me meditate on God's Word. I typically write something when I read the Bible. Sometimes I'll just read a passage and let it sit for a minute and two. Normally, however, I write my response, first in thoughts and then in prayer. Partly, it hearkens back to the fact that I process things by writing. It helps me make sense of what I just read. In addition, though, I enjoy looking back and rediscovering something about God's Word. Every time I read a passage, I can learn something, and I like seeing the trail of discovery in my journal. For example:
"Psalm 91:1-2 'He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Whom I trust."'
"Dwell and trust. That's what this passage says. Make your home in God's Presence and you will gain peace. How wonderful is that? We try so hard to gain peace on our terms… Yet no matter how hard we try, peace remains just out of reach… Yet God gives us a simple solution: dwell in Him. Make your home with Me, child. Trust me. Let go of control. Come and receive peace." – August 18, 2015
Do you ever write prayers down? Do you keep a devotions journal? Let me know in the comments!