Today most Christians have access to the internet through desktop, laptop or notebook computers. Almost everyone have smart phones today, even the homeless through the various free phone programs, that give them access to the internet and the information superhighway. The internet gives today’s Christian’s access to a variety of free Bible Study tools. The internet didn’t exist when I had my encounter with God in the fall of 1977. Tim Berners-Lee didn’t invent the internet until 1989 and even then it wasn’t available to the general public. It didn’t become available to the general population until 1981, almost fourteen years after I had my Damascus Road Experience in the chapel of the Lompoc Federal Penitentiary.
I didn’t have access to the web and all the free bible study tools that are available today. What I did have was the Thompson Chain Reference Bible that prison chaplain gave me when he seen how on fire I was for the Lord and how serious I was to learn His word. I signed up for correspondence bible courses and I bought Bible Study books. I wrote everything the Holy Spirit was teaching me down in thick spiral bound notebooks, they were my devotional journals, but I didn’t think of them by that name back then. By the time I was released from federal prison in early 2002, I had over 200 of those spiral bound notebook/journals. Over half of those notebooks were really devotional journals that charted my growth as a Christian and I had those treasures until I lost them in a house fire in the fall of 2018.
So what is a devotional journal? I suppose it’s just a fancy name for a notebook where you record your daily encounter with God through prayer and the study of His Holy word. Since what you write in your devotional journal is private and meant to be read only by you and God, you could call it your Christian Diary. It doesn’t matter whether you use spiral bound notebooks, composition notebooks, loose-leaf paper in a three-ring binder, steno pads or even yellow legal pads, all that matters is that you keep one. Even though I keep mine on my computer today, I still carry a small notebook with me to record what the Holy Spirit reveals to me when I’m away from a computer. I’ll say that again, there is no one right way to keep a devotional Journal, all that matters is that you keep one, so use whatever method you are most comfortable with. So now the question becomes, what do I write in my devotional journal?
There’re many way to get inspiration, two of the best is to use a Daily Devotional for your morning and evening devotionals and a Bible trading plan. There are many really good Daily Devotionals available today and most of them are available as free subscriptions as either snail mail or email subscriptions. Some like “Our Daily Bread” and “My Utmost for His Highest,” the classic devotional by Oswald Chambers, are available as free apps for your smart phone. I like Oswald Chambers but I suggest that you try many different ones until you find the one that speaks to your heart. As for bible reading plans, there are twenty plus really great ones, far too many to even attempt to cover in this article so I will cover all of them in future articles. Perhaps if you are new to using them you might want to start out with the Classic reading plan that takes you through the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelations in one year. The Classic plan has readings from both the Old Testament and the New Testament each day. You can download a copy here. This plan will take you through the whole Bible in 365 days, reading three passages every day. OK, I get that, but what should I write in my journal?
Read the Scriptures and Record Your Thoughts.
No matter whether you use a daily devotional guide or a daily Bible reading plan to kick start you devotional writing, read through the designated scriptures twice. Read them all the way through the first time to get the overview of what God is saying to you through His holy word. Read them again more slowly the second time, stopping when something jumps out and grabs you because that is the Holy Spirits way of saying this is for you. Write those verses or phrases down in your journal then meditate on them. Ask yourself questions like: How does what God is saying here apply to my life? Am I doing something that I need to stop doing? Is there something that I’m not doing that I need to start doing? Is there something that I’m missing? Write down what you think the Lord is teaching you. Then, later, as you read back through your journal you will be able to see how you have grown in your Christian walk, how you have grown closer to the Lord.
Opening and Closing Prayers
You should always open and close your devotional time with prayer. I’m going to provide you with a couple of examples here to get you started but you will soon be creating your very own unique prayers. To get you started here is a short opening prayer that you may use:
“Dear Lord I pray that you will open my heart and mind to your truths as I study and meditate on your word this morning/evening. Draw me into a closer walk with you. I ask you to send Your Holy Spirit to guide me to the truth of your word. I ask you to give me the wisdom to apply what I learn from your word to my life today. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray Amen.”
Here is an effective closing prayer based on Psalm 119:105.
“Lord, your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Thank you that I can live in your light and walk in your truths. May the things that you have revealed and thoughts that I have shared dwell in my heart and spur me to action. I ask all these things in your precious Son’s name Amen!”
Feel free to change these prayers to include your own thoughts, feelings and needs.
Record Your Spiritual Goals in Your Journal
What are your goals for spiritual growth? Divide your short term goals into daily and weekly short term goals. Divide your long term goals into monthly and yearly goals. Here are a few examples to get you started.
Daily Short Term Goals:1. Pray often throughout the day.
2. Take time to say grace before eating, even if it’s just a quick snack.
3. Have a morning and evening devotional time.
4. Memorize new scriptures.
5. Write in my devotional journal.
Weekly Short term Goals
1. Do an in-depth Bible study every week.
2. Memorize at least three new scriptures.
3. Review previously memorized scriptures.
1. Read through the Bible in a year.
Now add your own spiritual goal to these. The important thing is to remain flexible in your goal setting and be ready to modify them at the Holy Spirit’s leading.