Having written so much about the different benefits of creative writing, specifically, prayer journaling, I hope that I have managed to convince you to try it for yourself. If so, I think it’s time I tell you more about the actual process of it. I have said this many times and I would like to repeat it, that there is no right or wrong way of doing this. If you feel that you instinctively know what to do and how to process your emotions, thoughts or life events with the help of a pen and a notebook, that’s brilliant, go ahead and don’t let anybody hold you back. But if you feel a bit uncertain about it all, you would like to give it a try but don’t really know where to start, well, why don’t you start right here?
I would like to offer you five simple steps to take and practice any time. These steps combine and represent nearly 20 years of personal experience and a whole lot of research that I have done in many different fields, like theology, psychology, pastoral counselling and neuroscience and some forms of visual arts. Yes, I know it is a mouthful, but I feel it necessary to tell you that I haven’t come up with these things overnight. I have invested a lot of time and work into creating a method for personal reflection that is based on the Bible and scientific evidence. I have been searching for things to help me on my journey of healing from trauma. I knew that if I wanted God to help me with regulating my thoughts and emotions, I had to do my own part in the process. I also wanted to create a habit of intentionally deepening and nurturing my relationship with God, by processing my thoughts and pretty much my whole life through his Word. Aligning myself with God’s truth and his way of seeing reality is how I understand the renewing of my mind, the process Paul writes about in Romans 12.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Romans 12:2
Today, I would like to give you a list of five steps along with a brief description for each. Then, I would like to spend the next couple of weeks going into details and take you through my process step by step, along with some practical examples. Sounds good?
The 5 steps method of prayer journaling:
Uncovering the truth about my current situation means becoming aware of my thoughts and feelings. What is the reality of my current situation? Do I feel anxious? Do I feel afraid? I extend my search to physical symptoms too. The first step is about starting to gather basic and true information about what is really happening at that moment. There is no point in hiding anything.
Looking for triggers mean searching for clues as to what specific event, circumstances, conversations or anything else has triggered the thoughts and feelings I am dealing with. This step is crucial if we want to really understand what is happening to us and why. Also, it helps us to identify certain patterns in our lives and this way better equip us to deal with them long term.
The step of visualisation can happen in many different ways. My favourite and go-to option is writing, but sometimes I draw or colour. I have recently started to explore the topic of intentional movement and it seems like a great addition to the process at this point. I have also used playdough before as a tool to express and process my emotions, quite helpful actually. The point is to do something that will give your thoughts and emotions a shape or form, a colour or a movement. I have read quite a lot about the science behind this, but I still think it is a wonderful mystery, how thoughts and emotions become more malleable and easier to work with, when we put them on paper.
Aligning my thoughts and expressed feelings with the word of God is where things get really interesting. I can’t wait to tell you more about this step soon, but for now, please allow me just to suggest to you that aligning ourselves with God’s will doesn’t mean ignoring our reality. Aligning our thoughts with God’s Word is a conscious choice to see things the way they really are.
A prayer of praise is about hope, it’s momentum to help us looking ahead and moving forward. It’s my way of getting unstuck.
Next time, I will really dig into step one and what it looks like to gather awareness and uncover the truth about ourselves and our current situation. I will also tell you why I start my journaling process this way.
Until then, have a wonderful and blessed Easter and remember how loved you are!