Straight from the Journaling Heart
By Lisa Elliott
Years after my Dad’s advice to write and write to scrape up some marks on my history exam, I found myself still writing. After the birth of my fourth child, I felt my family was complete. However, with so many distractions, I found it hard to focus my attention on thoughtful prayer. And who could possibly think of staying awake past 8:00 p.m. with four children under the age of five-and-a-half? So, to help me focus, I began recording my prayers in a blank notebook. Daily I laid my four children in bed for their afternoon nap and daily I would lay down my burdens, my thoughts, my struggles, my heartaches, my concerns, and my requests before the Lord on paper.
Much like the psalmist, David, I began pouring my heart out to the Lord. I was thankful for such a wonderful way to release, process, and express my innermost thoughts and feelings to the Caretaker of my heart. In fact, I’ve often referred to my journals as “Lisa’s book of psalms.”
Through the years I’ve used a myriad of journals that now compile an entire library of my life. I’ve kept “Joy Journals” where I’ve recorded the simple pleasures I find in a day. It could be a new bird in my backyard, a rainbow in the sky, a phone call from a friend, a card in the mail, or some other intimate way the Lord has shown me His love.
I have a special “Family Journal” where I’ve prayed specific things related to my children and my marriage. I prayerfully selected Bible verses for each of my children when they were born that I have prayed over and over again for each one. I also pray for and record a verse for each coming year that I can keep at the forefront of my thoughts and prayers as the year unfolds.
When my 18-year-old son, Ben was diagnosed with leukemia, a friend encouraged me to post prayer requests on a Facebook page. This turned into a public journal, serving as an incredible outlet for me to journal my thoughts and to keep God’s faithfulness front and centre in my mind through that difficult time.
When Ben died after his yearlong battle I began a “Grief Journal”. My entire family caught on to my mode of therapy and began recording their thoughts and raw emotions concerning their loss.
In each of my journals I carry on two-way conversations with the Lord. I record verses that He draws to my attention and I respond with my thoughts, feelings, and how I intend to put His word into action. Sometimes I simply take dictation from the Lord as He speaks truth into my heart. At times these truths have turned into speaking or writing material!
Some of my journals are blank, allowing me to lay out my pages as an artist would his blank pallet. Sometimes they have had Scripture verses written at the bottom of the page. Others display a picture or a verse on the front cover that depicts an area of my life that the Lord is working on and helps me to keep it in focus. For example, a recent journal said on the cover, “Let your heart take courage.”
Prayer journaling clears my mind—helping me to prioritize, focus my thoughts, and find perspective. At times I have written out grocery lists or things that are cluttering my mind to help bring a sense of order and clarity (Out of mind and on paper!). Through the pages of my journals I have dreamt and laid out my future before the Lord. I’ve included book quotes, song lyrics, prayer lists, or special cards I’ve received that inspire and encourage me.
The bonus is that I can re-read them for years to come and perhaps even gift my children with them one day so they can see the thread of God’s faithfulness in my life. Why don’t you consider pouring your heart out to the Lord in the form of journaling?
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:1-4).
Straight from the Heart,
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org