Using a journal to grow in listening prayer
Here’s another excerpt from my book, The Art of Listening Prayer:
The Bible says, “For God so loved the world” (John. 3:16), but you need to see for yourself that God cares; that he cares about you. You need the experience of listening for and hearing his voice for yourself.
The good news is that he is eager to talk with you. Scripture says, “Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Sometimes we just need a tool to help us focus. Because our minds are cluttered, noisy places where the Lord’s voice is easily obscured, we need help. A tool that many have found helpful is a journal.
Writing down our prayers helps in two ways:
- It helps us to focus.
- It creates a record to compare with experience.
By journaling our prayers and our impressions of God’s answers, we fine-tune our spiritual ears to better hear him. Writing our impression of the Lord’s response creates in us an expectancy that he will respond. In effect, we stir up the very faith without which it is impossible to please him. Regularly “tuning in to” the Lord’s voice builds the habit patterns of submission and expectancy that are necessary for the exercise of spiritual gifts. (For example, you may sense the Lord wanting to use you to encourage someone but, unless you look for the specific opportunity to use your gift of exhortation, nothing happens).
Anyone who believes the Bible is God’s inerrant word will agree that it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict us of sin (John. 16:8). For example, let’s imagine that you say something mean about your friend Rachel. Subsequently, you hear the Holy Spirit whisper in your mind, “You shouldn’t have said that about Rachel. You should apologize.” You then have the opportunity to dismiss this thought by saying, “No, that’s too much trouble.” Or you may respond in obedience. This kind of limited dialogue is normal. It happens every day in the lives of most Christians. To bring focus to your dialogue by journaling is an age-old Christian discipline. To note in your journal, “I hear the Holy Spirit saying: ‘You should apologize to Rachel,'” is hardly a heretical activity. The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict us of sin; that conviction typically comes to us as a thought: “You shouldn’t have done that.”