One of the things I particularly love to do is journaling. I think I was doing it before it became a thing or before I knew it was a thing. I have always felt a certain pull to pen and paper. A certain comfort of pouring out my heart in a safe, no judgement zone. Journalling is my love zone and I use it for several purposes. I journal about work, I journal about my dreams, I journal about my feelings, people, desires, anything really. The one I really love to do though is prayer journaling. This has transformed my relationship with God in a leaps and bounds kind of way. I also love it because it encompasses all the other aspects above.
What prayer journaling has particularly done for me includes:
1) a safe space to pour my heart unstructured or unscripted. I just go as I am, vulnerable, broken, happy, whatever.
2) a way for God to reveal my innermost thoughts to me.
3) see God’s goodness and faithfulness over time plus my own growth over time.
Perhaps because when I journal I am not trying to be perfect or structured, I just want to share what’s on my heart, it helps me really reflect and dig into the root of the issue. One recent occurrence was when I heard the news about an armed robbery crew coming towards my area. Funny thing is, I had just finished encouraging others and I had scriptures going through my mind from how God showed up for Elisha and Gehazi when they were surrounded to how Elijah called down fire upon soldiers. I knew God was greater than them. I knew about his promises of protection and I thought I was fine.
But then night came and a certain fear arose in me. It was really strange. I tried to focus on scriptures, the very same ones that gassed me up earlier but the fear rose even more. I eventually calmed a bit and then went to sleep. I woke up later that night and again I was a disaster within. Suddenly, past experiences of being robbed at night as I slept back in school, the story of my family getting robbed and my dad being shot; it all came back. I kept repeating scriptures to calm my heart until I was eventually able to go back to sleep.
The next day, I decided to talk to God about it. I shared how I was afraid but I didn’t understand why. As I poured out my heart and God dropped scriptures in my heart which I wrote down, I realised that I had unfinished business. It turned out that my fear wasn’t really about the armed robbers showing up at my doorstep. My fear was me calling out to God and He not showing up for me. My fear was trusting God, boldly standing up to face the enemy only to realise that I was alone and God didn’t have my back as I thought. My fear was what if I acted like the three, Meshach, Shadrach & Abednego, and said “my God will deliver me but even if he doesn’t…” and then God refuses to deliver me or deliver my family, what then? You see, my fear was really a lack of trust that God will not forsake me if I find myself in this type of situation.
There’s something I love about journaling and being real honest with God about what state I’m in; when I take my heart to God, when I take my fear to God, more often than not, what I find is uncovered places that need healing, areas I still need to grow. God exposes my pain. He doesn’t just stop there though. He goes further and begins to build my faith. Craig Groeschel in his book Dangerous Prayers says it this way, “As God reveals your fears, He will also build your faith”.
When I exposed myself to the light and allowed God to reveal my innermost thoughts to me, I was able to find the root of the issue and know what needs to be treated. I’m still on that journey but the first step to healing is usually awareness so I know I’ll get there.
I want to encourage you today to be honest with God. I want to encourage you to pray honest, real, vulnerable, imperfect prayers. It doesn’t have to be journaling if that’s not your thing. But you need to begin to go before God honestly and vulnerably. Like I always say, He’s already aware of it so it’s pointless hiding anyway. Sometimes, we might not see the root until the Lord reveals it to us and that can only happen when we go before the Lord, hearts open. Take it one day at a time if you may but trust me you will be the better off for it. Your relationship with God, your relationship with yourself, your relationship with others, will all be the better for it.
“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light”.– Ephesians 5:13 (NIV)
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”John 3:18-21 (NKJV)
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”.Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
More resources I totally recommend:
Proverbs 31 Ministries Study on Dangerous Prayers
Detoxing Your Mind: An Interview With Dr Caroline Leaf