Series: Secret Place Journaling: 6 types of journaling and how to find yours.
Journaling is Constructing your Memorial and Cultivating Intimacy with God
Journaling in the Secret Place can be such a rewarding thing for building intimacy with the Lord. This is the second post in the new series on Journaling in the secret place. It’s unfortunate for those who do not make the time to pursue intimacy with God, because there is so much available to us that can go undiscovered. Some of these things can only be discovered when careful documentation is done to observe. We are also a people that forgets. Careful documentation and recording is key to remembering what things the Lord has done, and continues to do, on our behalf.
The Old Testament is filled with stories where God Himself asked the main character to build a memorial in remembrance after God did something miraculous. That is exactly what we are doing in a sense, when we journal in the Secret Place. We are building a modern memorial in a way. We are keeping a record of the wonders of God in our midst, paying careful attention to obey His words, thank Him, and in building the Kingdom of God. This in turn builds something very precious in us: our faith, intimacy, and trust in God.
Questions To Consider Before Journaling
Before we go on to discuss journaling types, there are some questions that we should consider in preparing for this process. It can help us focus your thoughts and streamline our entries. It can also keep us from focusing on areas that either don’t interest us at all, burn us out prematurely, or are just too much to maintain over the long term. Maybe there is something that you’ve not experienced or don’t plan on pursing at all. That’s okay. Build your journal with what you have and understand about yourself now, and there can always be room for expansion later. Starting small will ensure that you see it as a delight, not a painful discipline. If it becomes hard or weary, you are doing it wrong. Consider these questions prior to starting to avoid these frustrating issues.
What Are Your Spiritual Gifts?
If you don’t know your spiritual gifts, I encourage you to find an online inventory and take it! These can take a little bit of time to do, but so worth it. No inventory is perfect, but it can help narrow down your gifts to a small grouping. Here are two free online questionnaires if you would like to check them out. They can be found here and here. Knowing your spiritual gifts will help you determine what type of journaling person you are. It will also help you know how large of a journal you will want to purchase.
Pro’s & Cons of Paper vs. Electronic Journals
I recommend electronic journals if you are a person who just likes to write or who documents quite a bit. Electronic journals can help you tag certain words, organize different subjects, and keep things easier to access later. Written journals will be more difficult to go back and pinpoint certain things for access later. Keeping these books can take up space and be difficult to deal with. It just depends on what your personal goals are in journaling. If you are mainly using your journal for a prayer list recording place, then a written one will certainly fit the bill for that.
Pastors, prophets, apostles, and visionary people with dreams and encounters frequently want an electronic journal. This is mainly due to the sheer amount of study notes, prayer requests, and recording different words from God. Finding out your gifts will help narrow down where you want to begin. For more info on Spiritual Gifts, check out Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:6-11; Ephesians 4; and 1 Peter. AMP
What Will Be Your Primary Focus for Journaling?
This may be something you don’t know yet, and that is okay. The primary focus for journaling in the Secret Place is intimacy with God. This can be accomplished in several different ways. We will discuss them later, but think of what you are truly wanting to focus on. Are you wanting to capture your thoughts, hopes, goals, prayers? Maybe adventures with Him? These types of things will need to be organized, so you can access them separately to view later. Think how you will want to organize them if you use a paper journal versus an electronic one.
I used a paper journal for years, and now it is virtually impossible to find most of what I journaled, even if I dated it. A sticker or tab style divider might be helpful, and possibly highlighting to flag important entries. Whatever style you choose to use, make sure you are consistent, and think of future ‘you’ trying to find this note later. You know that one entry that really spoke to your heart, and you never want to forget. Journaling is not only documentation, but also organization and accessibility.
What Secondary Things Do You Want to Document When Journaling? (What’s important to you?)
Are there other things that are important to you that you want to document? Say prayer requests, dreams, interpretations, visions, encounters, praises, declarations, prophetic words from God, and adventures with God? Thinking about these things ahead of time will help you organize and set up how you will want to organize them. Possibly, you will want to put them in separate journals altogether. It seems like excess now in the beginning, but it will pay dividends later.
Biblical Importance of Documenting
The Bible has myriads of stories where God performed a great miracle only, He could do. Usually, afterward, the main character set up a memorial to God or God directed them to. Why is a memorial important? Because memories become distorted over time. It was a way to set up a reminder and permanent praise for the Creator God, who performed great wonders; both for the current generation and future ones. Have you thought of your journaling as a memorial for future generations? You should! The things you experience, receive, see, your answered prayers could affect a generation after you. Treat your journal as such. You may be stewarding priceless gems that hungry seekers will be searching for in generations to come. Habakkuk 2:2 says:
Then the Lord answered me and said,Habakkuk 2:2 AMP
“Write the vision
And engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets
So that the one who reads it will run.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time
It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail.
Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it,
Because it will certainly come; it will not delay.
A Biblical Example of a Memorial
One Biblical example of setting up a memorial is found in Exodus 15:25-26AMP:
There the Lord made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there [e]He tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen and pay attention to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and listen to His commandments, and keep [foremost in your thoughts and actively obey] all His precepts and statutes, then I will not put on you any of the diseases which I have put on the Egyptians; for I am the [f]Lord who heals you.”Exodus 15:25-26 AMP
In this example, the Children of Israel had just come through the Red Sea crossing and celebrated their victory with Miriam’s song of praise to the Creator, and they were led into the desert, and they couldn’t find water. Then they came to Marah, and the waters were bitter. They complained to God, and He made the waters sweet. He sets up a statue, in this case, to be a reminder and an ordinance. An ordinance is like a law or rule set up by a higher power, and is the enforcer of it. God made the statue both a reminder that He was the God that heals them, and an ordinance to obey Him.
Another Example and God’s Powerful Reasoning
One other example of memorials occurs in Joshua 4. The Israelites were crossing over the Jordan River into the promised land, and as they crossed over, they were to take stones over to the other side in the number of the tribes of Israel as a remembrance. Then, the priests that carried the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan River were to put stones where their feet were in the riverbank. God held up the water of the Jordan River for them to cross over on dry ground. Joshua then tells them why the Lord wanted them to do this in Joshua 4: 21-24 AMP:
“When your children ask their fathers in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24so that all the peoples of the earth may know [without any doubt] and acknowledge that the hand of the Lord is mighty and extraordinarily powerful, so that you will fear the Lord your God [and obey and worship Him with profound awe and reverence] forever.”Joshua 4:21-24 AMP
God required them to place these stones to remind future generations what God did and give Him praise for it. Remembrance is obviously important to God, so remembrance should be to us as well. Journaling is simply one way to keep a remembrance that God is still mighty, and He still works wonders among His people. Amen!
How Hungry are You for Intimacy with God?
So how hungry are you to get started? Has this whet your appetite to know the Lord in powerful ways? I pray it has. Journaling is not for those who just consider it a fad. It requires diligence, but diligence will turn into delight as you begin to see that God is communicating with you in a powerful way. Once you are faithful to document, record, and memorialize the things God gives you daily, He will give you more. His heart is to see if you will do the work to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2 AMP says:
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,Proverbs 25:2 AMP
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
As you document, you will no doubt want to search a matter out. It is the glory of kings to do so. This delights the heart of God, and when He sees your heart of diligence, He will provide supernatural revelation and more gems to search out. Stay hungry and thirsty. It goes hand in hand with the degree of intimacy with the Lord that you will achieve. Prove to the Lord that you are thirsty for more of Him.
Now That You Have some Pointers to get you started in the Journaling Process
It’s always good to get an opinion of someone who has gone before you, before you start on any venture. Journaling is no different. I have given you some questions to consider before starting, and some valuable Biblical encouragement for why it’s a praiseworthy undertaking. Now, without further ado, let’s talk about some different journaling types. This by no means addresses them all, because let’s face it, there are many styles. There are as many styles as there are people. Try what interests you based on the above questions, and adapt as you go along. You may just discover another gifting that you didn’t know you had. Journaling has a way of bringing that out in each of us.
Different Types or Styles of Journaling (There are many, here’s a few)
- Journaling Scriptures–There are several ways to do this style. As the Holy Spirit identifies scripture to read, write down the revelation you are hearing in it. How does it apply to you in your current situation? What is the Holy Spirit saying? Write it down. Also, dissecting scripture by looking up the Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic translations and word meanings in scripture can really highlight meanings that we in the Western world know nothing about. I highly recommend it as you study out scripture. This style will most likely end up being a Bible study that the Holy Spirit takes the lead on with you as He directs your steps in His Word.
- Journaling Prayers/Answered Prayers-This is a technique also done in a few ways based on your spiritual gifts. The first way is what one would normally do in making a prayer list and recording answered prayers, but it can also be a place to write the stories or testimonies of how God worked through the circumstance to resolve it. It can also be a technique for intercessors to keep a record of and record words of knowledge and wisdom from the Lord. This information is given mainly to intercede for the person. Also, this method includes any pictures seen to pray for people as well.
- Journaling Adventures with God–This one is my favorite. If you see visions or like creative writing, you will love this style. God can and does inspire our imagination when it is surrendered for His use. This type requires one to focus on the Lord, ask for the Holy Spirit to speak to you, and tune into flowy thoughts. Seer types can also utilize this type of journaling by drawing what they see in visionary format, along with the interpretations from the Holy Spirit as they go. This was how I began my journaling. The Lord directed me to this style, and He actually had me start by practicing writing on a blank page everything I felt like the Holy Spirit was saying in that moment to me. It has been invaluable to me in pursuing intimacy with the Lord. You can even start with a leading question, such as: “Lord, what would you like to tell me right now? Now, as I was faithful in doing this style for a while, I would then create an environment to meet with the Lord. One example would be at a bench near a stream or at the beach at sunset. I would write as I was in these places meeting with the Lord. Some people will meet in Biblical scenes. I was shocked at the inspiration and revelation I would receive from the Lord. I would receive visual pictures I would pray into, and I would learn the personality of the Lord. He has one! There was one catch. If I didn’t see it in my mind’s eye first, I didn’t write it. In other words, I left room for the Holy Spirit to lead me and my journeys with the Lord. Ephesians 1:17-18 (TPT) gives a Biblical basis for this type of inspired imagination.
- Journaling Dreams, Visions, encounters and God’s responses-This one is self-explanatory. It is simply putting down in words what you see, how you saw it, what you felt, what God showed you and what took place. It involves careful documentation to describe, and possibly draw visionary things, as well as document what was said in encounters, visions, and dreams. I like to note that the details are usually very important here. You will need to leave room for God’s responses or interpretations about these. My journals also included dreams in the beginning. From there, it blossomed into encounters and much more. I firmly believe it was only because I was hungry to understand what God was saying to me in my dreams. This helped me to have somewhat of a working knowledge of the language of Heaven. I have found that God develops a sort of language for us individually. It is wild, but extremely tender of Him in my opinion. It in itself is yet another invitation into intimacy with Him.
- Journaling What God Speaks to You-This type is exactly what it sounds like. Depending on how you have cultivated your ability to hear God or not, this type will either speak to you or not. I mentioned in the type above that you can start to hear His voice through journaling by practicing journaling what He’s saying to you on a blank piece of paper and a pen or just in a blank Word document. Just start typing everything you hear, regardless of whether it makes sense or not. It’s not really to sort out meaning as much at this stage as it is just to practice tuning your ear. Don’t even try to make sense of it as you write. Just focus on the next word you hear and write. As I said before, the Holy Spirit directed me to do this Himself when I started journaling. Now I have adventures and encounters with Him regularly. Don’t trivialize what may seem silly to you now. Do this technique regularly. Pretty soon, you will start seeing statements with wisdom from the Lord in it. Make sure you have invited Him to speak to you beforehand, and you are focused on Him when you do. Focus on free flowy thoughts. That is how the Holy Spirit moves. If you have to think to make it sound right, it’s not Him. If you have your prayer language, praying before this would be a great way to stir up the Spirt to move within you.
- Journaling Combinations of Different Types-Now that you have read the different types of journaling, you may have decided that you want to try all of them or several of them. That is a lot of journaling! It really can be! Maybe you want to do one main type every day, and then one particular one, once a week when you have more time. That is perfectly fine. All attempts to connect with the Lord will blossom into intimacy. It can take longer, but everyone has responsibilities, and that is okay. Talk with the Lord about what He wants you doing. If you don’t know, just start one and keep going. Add onto it later. Start thinking about what your needs will be, whether electronic or a paper journal, and just start somewhere, thinking about how you will organize material to come back to, whether encounter events, symbol meanings, dreams, etc. I guarantee you; you will want to revisit something the Lord told you. So, keep that in mind. Make sure to date EVERY ENTRY. That is critical. You may want to give each one page numbers or index them like a table of contents. Using different journals for the different things can help as well.
Putting It All Together
We have discussed so much to get you started on your new journey into intimacy. God is breathing on this right now. He wants to awaken His Bride. He awakened me with this technique, and He can awaken you too. Chances are, if you have read this article to this point, he has already awakened you. You are hungry, and you are exactly where He desires you to be. Praise God! Know that as you embark on this journey into journaling (pun intended), He will be taking the journey with you. He will leave little clues for you to notice and investigate.
Notice everything and pay attention to what you see and hear. Most of all, stay consistent and have fun with the Lord! Time in the secret place is so important to your soul. I promise you that as you invest in it, it will start out as discipline and eventually end up in delight. He promises that if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4 AMP) As you take this journey, be like Psalms 34:8 AMP says: Taste and see that the Lord is good!
To your beautiful transformation,
Question how do you know what your spiritual gifts are?
Hi Val! There are links in the post to two different sites that allow you to take a spiritual gifts inventory or questionnaire. From there, you can determine what your gifts are or what you have a tendency to have. This will help you determine if a small or larger journal is necessary for you. I pray this helps. (Sharla)