Read God’s Words. Then Write Your Own.


The spiritual discipline of recording our prayers and Bible reading reflections is a practice rooted in Christian tradition.

Three crows bickering on a rooftop against the sunrise, reads my journal entry from July 22, 2019. Lord, how obnoxious I am!

Aside from a list of prayer requests, that is the entirety of the entry for that day. Out of context, it makes no sense. But reading those two sentences now whisks me back to that sticky summer morning. The trio of argumentative crows on my neighbor’s roof are cawing and fighting, oblivious to the sky painted in lavender and gold behind them. Observing them, I see myself in their behavior, my complaints and natterings stark against the backdrop of God’s extravagant love. I jog home, unsettled, to write about the experience.

The practice of writing down my spiritual observations puts me in good company. Christians have been compelled to write about God and to God since the earliest days of the church. Although much of the church’s writing over the years has been to reflect God to the wider world, Christians have also long written to and about God privately.

Prayer journaling transcends denomination and background. Throughout history, both ordinary and prominent believers have approached private journaling to God as a matter of great spiritual import. Fiery Puritans Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards used their diaries to chronicle their sins and halting progress in holiness. John Wesley inherited his journaling practice from his devout mother, Susanna. C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed emerged from personal reflections he kept after the loss of his wife.

The motivations for this practice varied. Puritans often journaled as an attempt to grow in holiness. John Beadle, an English clergyman in the 1600s, believed that diary-keeping was a way Christians might practice for the account they …

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