Growing up, I rarely saw my mother without a puzzle book in her hand. Personally, I have puzzle-book bias. I only want to do the Cryptograms or the Crossword Cryptograms. Not her. She treats all the puzzles equally. Oftentimes her puzzle books have every puzzle completed. One of her favorites is a puzzle called Missing Word. You are given two words, with a blank in the middle. The objective is to find the word that works with both outside words. For example, DIVINELY _______________ JOURNAL. The word missing is GUIDED. In this case, “DIVINELY GUIDED” works as a set of words, as does “GUIDED JOURNAL.”
Divinely guided is fairly self-explanatory, and I’d harbor a guess most people would love to be guided by God. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that a guided journal simply means a journal with questions that prompt you to dig deep and think outside the box. I guess the question now is … What is a Divinely Guided Journal?
I asked a friend, and her first response made me laugh. No, it’s not a journal sprinkled with Holy Water. Truth be told, the journal in “Divinely Guided Journal” is just a journal. For some people, a journal is just a stack of paper. For others, it may be made from the finest leather, or maybe it’s just an online journal or an app on your phone. The journal itself is not what’s important. What makes it divinely guided is the writing on the pages inside.
Personally I use three types of Divinely Guided Journals.
LETTER TO GOD
Do you ever feel like letters are a lost art? Personally, with text messages and e-mails I don’t write many snail-mail letters, but I do still write God letters. The best part— he doesn’t even require postage. No, I don’t put my address at the top, nor do I put God’s. Although “1 Kingdom Way, Heaven” might work nicely.
I do put a salutation. It’s usually something like: “Dear Heavenly Father.” I also include the date, and the first line is oftentimes: “I come to you in the name of your Amazing Son, Jesus Christ.” The Bible says in John 14:13: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
I try to employ what I call the Sandwich Method, which is to start and end your prayer with praise and thanksgiving, sandwiching your problems in between. Think about how thick the bun usually is compared to the meat. If you have a lot of problems you need to have twice as much praise.
No, I didn’t come up with this idea, but it is brilliant. Not only because God loves praise, but because when you start praising God your problems start to shrink. After shrinkage, you’ll often find the leftovers to be what is really bothering you.
Obviously, in times of great grief, people have a harder time praising God. Some people even blame God for their problems, because they believe that God allowed the problem to happen to them. It’s not true. God is only good. The bad in your life comes from the devil. James 1:17 says: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” I realize this might be a new thought for some of you, but it’s true. God loves you very much. God is good!
Your “Letter to God” can be as short as a few sentences or multiple pages long. I have had some letters to God take hours to write. What you will find is that once you start to open up your heart to God, solutions to your problems—maybe even ones you weren’t praying about—appear on the page. You will develop a love for God you didn’t know possible. I highly recommend writing “letters to God.”
WRITING DOWN REVELATIONS
No, you don’t need a shovel to dig for revelations, but what you unearth is more precious than silver and gold. Do you believe the answer to every problem you have is in the word of God? A few years ago, I would have been skeptical. I’d read the word and literally fall asleep. I had trouble gleaming anything of value.
What I learned is the Bible has to be understood spiritually. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Like the natural man—or woman—I did not understand.
I grew up in church. I knew all the Bible stories, but I still didn’t understand the Bible. When I read it, it just felt dead, the words had no real meaning for me. On June 15, 2012, everything changed. I accepted the free gift Christ had for me—salvation.
Of course, understanding the word after this didn’t happen right away. For several years dust continued to settle on my Bible. Prompted by a minister, I began studying my Bible daily. I found the more I dug into the word, the more alive the word became. I may miss a few days here and there, but daily Bible study is a priority in my life. Often I will read one verse, and write fifteen pages of revelation, things that have absolutely nothing to do with that particular verse.
I use a separate journal for digging in the word. (I use separate journals for all three types of divinely guided journaling.) I feel God working in my life, changing me, as I dig in the word. My internal weaknesses have become so clear. The Bible speaks about the potter and the wheel. Ever since I started digging into the word of God I can see God molding me into something amazing. The negative is being slowly taken away, and His love fills me. I am beginning to really let go of my past, little-by-little. I’m definitely not perfect, but every day I see things in a new light. Often now when I have a problem, a verse pops in my head that relates or even answers my question. Revelations from the word are powerful!
The third and final way I personally use a Divinely Guided Journal is sermon notes. Have you ever fallen asleep in church? Worse, have you sat in church and thought about what you have to do the next day? I cannot tell you how many times I came home without a clue about the theme of the minister’s message. My brain, when given free time, will wander or get sleepy. Nodding off or snoring in church—super embarrassing!
My solution to the problem is sermon notes. A few years ago, I was in a friend’s car, and noticed a journal sitting on the front seat. I commented on the nice leather cover. He casually explained it held his sermon notes.
The next Sunday I had a journal of my own, though not nearly as nice as his—I write too big and way too much to constitute paying a premium for a leather journal—I began keeping my own sermon notes. My friend usually keeps notes about the “minister’s message” in his journal, but over the years, I have found sitting in church is a great place to write prayers, too. If you saw my journal you would probably laugh. I may start out making note of the minister’s topic and verses, then start a prayer. Then, in the middle of my prayer, I may write a note from the sermon. Which makes re-reading my journals very difficult, just one of the reasons why I throw my journals away when they are full. Gasp! My friend would never throw his journals away, you just have to figure out what works for you. Over the years I have probably thrown away more than ten journals. Personally, I don’t write the notes so I can go back and study them. I simply write the notes to help me absorb the information. I ascribe to the Chinese Proverb, “The palest ink is better than the best memory?”
Simply put, connecting with God in a journal changed my life. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it. At first you may not see a difference. Give it some time, you might be surprised what you discover.
For Your Journal: Put It In Ink..
Do you currently use any of these three forms of divinely guided journaling? If so, what kind of results have you had? If not, is this something you would like to try?
What thing has God done for you that’s your favorite? Write it out in detail, include the emotions you felt. Did you learn anything about yourself?