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Thursday, 12 November 2015

When God says, “write it down” by Andrew J Chamberlain



Over the years, the time I spend with God on my own has become more important to me. Primarily this has been through regular devotional times, although it can also apply to times on retreat.

I think these times are essential for all of us. I know that what I don’t need in my life right now is any more noise and busyness, especially of the self-induced kind. Conversely, it’s the moments of space and peace that I feel are now at a premium.

One of the useful things I have learnt to do in these times is to write down a comment or observation in the journal I keep for my quiet times. Journal is a bit of a grand phrase, in the past it’s been a cheap exercise book and a pencil, but that’s fine for the task. When I think about the times when I have written something in my journal, I realise that what has provoked me to do this is not some regular Godly discipline, but a kind of spiritual poke from the Almighty, accompanied by the words: “write it down!” And so I do. And I can then come back to those words, in the weeks, months, even years afterwards.

The interesting thing for me is that, at the moment when God seems to be calling me to write something in my journal I have to overcome two hurdles. First, there is my innate laziness, which tries to stop me from even picking up the pen! Then there is the vague sense that what I am going to write is not really worth writing. Both of these are pretty lame excuses, and usually I am able to overcome them; then when I come back to my journal I usually find that what I have written was worth writing. It’s nearly always an insight or a direction from God that is valuable for the moment and for times afterwards. 

I’ve also had to make sure that if I do note something down, I do it for the right reason. I’ve had to resist the temptation to do something that we writers are normally encouraged to do, and that is to observe and squirrel away every event and experience for possible use in the future. Perhaps my life is the raw material for a future writing, but when God asks me to write something down, I have had to learn that the primary beneficiary is me, not my writing.  I’m not on duty as a writer in these moments, I just have to pay attention for my own benefit.

What’s good for me might well be good for you. So, if you are not already doing it, I’d encourage you to start keeping a journal, and to use it in your regular devotional time. And if you do keep a journal, when you feel one of those divine prompts, go with it and write down whatever is in your mind. Reviewing those comments will prove to be a valuable blessing to you in the weeks and years to come.

10 comments:

  1. This is great advice Andrew. I agree about you about the laziness which often encourages us to ignore those inner prompts. Yet as you say they can often mean the most. You have encouraged me to start journaling again

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  2. I so agree. I keep a journal, but have mislaid it and haven't written for a couple of days. I think this was a prompt for me - thank you so much. It is definitely a wonderful aid to prayer for me and I am sure your post will help others.

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  3. Thank you for your wisdom, Andrew, particularly your advice about putting aside the 'writer' side of you. I need to remember that first and foremost God wants to spend time with us, and the urge to file everything away for future use should be overcome on occasions like this!

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  4. I began using a notebook during my quiet times in August 2012. Mainly I note down things I am thankful for and people/issues to pray for/about. Soon I'll have to reorganise my lists into a new book. I'll try to remember not to write just for the sake of writing!
    At the recent ACW writers' day in London I met Lyn Alderson, who has written a book about the benefits of keeping a journal. http://lacopywriting.co.uk/e-books/
    Sue

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  5. I have kept a prayer?Quiet Time diary for years and love looking back at things God has said to me in the past - especially when I now see that they have come to fruition. Great post :)

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  6. In one memorable quiet time I felt God tell me to write down a particular set of verses. i was full of "No need to write it down, I'll remember that!" I'm so glad I was obedient. When I did re-read some months later what I had, of course, forgotten, it was a message of great purpose for my life which I had nearly missed.

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  7. I keep a spiritual journal too. I have found it very helpful to do. I don't just write down what God says to me but I write down what I'm feeling and what I prayed as well. This was especially useful to refer back to when I was writing my autobiographical account of my loss of faith. I could go and see exactly what I thought and prayed at the time

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  8. Thanks everyone for your comments, I really do think a journal is an important item for both writing and times with God, although I think they should probably be separate journals!

    Anne - I hope you've found your journal, and as Lynda has implied I think, a journal is so useful for giving us context and perspective on what we were thinking at different times on our journey with God.

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  9. Interesting post and comments. I'm an old Christian, journalist and Bible study lover, with numerous journals. This string serves as a good reminder, Like you, I've found that time spent in His Word, prayer and journaling can be a fabulously rich, challenging and rewarding time.

    This string reminds me that it's been a long time, and I need to go back and read few of my old journals to recall situations and challenges that God has taken me through. That is always a source of amazement, praise and some soul searching. (Did I do what God was leading me to do in obedience and faith? Have I changed to be more of the person He wants me to be?, etc.) Well, heck and darn, that's too convicting...

    Anyway, I would encourage you all to journal regularly (daily, or at least weekly) in the midst of prayer and time in His Word. The power of His truth and the Holy Spirit are amazing. Indeed, we have been blessed.

    [Eph 1:3-9 NASB] 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him

    Stand firm in Him

    ReplyDelete
  10. Interesting post and comments. I'm an old Christian, journalist and Bible study lover, with numerous journals. This string serves as a good reminder, Like you, I've found that time spent in His Word, prayer and journaling can be a fabulously rich, challenging and rewarding time.

    This string reminds me that it's been a long time, and I need to go back and read few of my old journals to recall situations and challenges that God has taken me through. That is always a source of amazement, praise and some soul searching. (Did I do what God was leading me to do in obedience and faith? Have I changed to be more of the person He wants me to be?, etc.) Well, heck and darn, that's too convicting...

    Anyway, I would encourage you all to journal regularly (daily, or at least weekly) in the midst of prayer and time in His Word. The power of His truth and the Holy Spirit are amazing. Indeed, we have been blessed.

    [Eph 1:3-9 NASB] 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him

    Stand firm in Him

    ReplyDelete