Why keeping a journal is important for spiritual progress

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Subscribe to “The Examen” for free on Apple Podcasts

Advertisement

Subscribe to “The Examen” for free on Google Play

Join our Patreon Community

This week, let’s look at an important spiritual practice: journaling. That’s basically a fancy way of talking about recording in a journal, or even on your computer, or a cell phone, what happens in your prayer and in your spiritual life. And it’s pretty important in the spiritual life overall. Why? Because our human tendency is, unfortunately, to forget the wonderful things that happen in prayer—the emotions, insights, desires, memories, feelings and images that console us and challenge us. We often do the same with spiritual experiences that happen to us in our daily lives.

Keeping a journal is an antidote to this forgetting. Think of it this way: Imagine Jesus were to come into a room and tell you something. You would obviously treasure his words and want to remember exactly what he said. So you’d certainly write them down, maybe even paint them on the wall of every room in your house. Something like that happens with any deep spiritual experience: God tells us something important. So we should be sure to record it! And when times get tough, it’s good to have those experiences to return to.

A journal also helps us see the progress of our spiritual lives. We can, for example, see how something that was bothering us before has ceased to be a problem, thanks to putting into effect some spiritual insight. So invest in a journal or start to write things down on your laptop or cell phone. When things get tough you’ll be glad you did.

[Don’t miss any of the latest writings, podcasts and videos from Father Martin. Sign up for his newsletter.]

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
More: Prayer

The latest from america

Light streams into St. Gabriel’s Passionist Parish in Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Larkin Architect Limited)
The daily light show at St. Gabriel's in Toronto is not just aesthetically moving, writes Dean Dettloff. It is part of a church design that reminds us of human dependence on the earth.
Dean DettloffAugust 23, 2019
“The Church is a family of families,” Pope Francis writes in “Amoris Laetitia.”
Kerry WeberAugust 23, 2019
Our commitment to God is expressed through living out the gospel, but also in your fidelity to prayer. Day in and day out. “Showing up and shutting up,” as my friend likes to say about daily prayer.
James Martin, S.J.August 23, 2019
In this Aug. 20, 2019 drone photo released by the Corpo de Bombeiros de Mato Grosso, brush fires burn in Guaranta do Norte municipality, Mato Grosso state, Brazil. (Corpo de Bombeiros de Mato Grosso via AP)
A record number of wildfires and the rapid deforestation of the Amazon are prompting Latin American bishops to plead for international action, writes America’s correspondent in Brazil, Eduardo Campos Lima.
Eduardo Campos LimaAugust 23, 2019