Design Your Life Journaling Guide

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Journaling 101

New to journaling? Here are five tips from Ben on getting started:


1. Make it your own.

This is your space. Make it serve you, not you serving it.


2. Take all the expectations off. 

This isn’t about getting published, it isn’t about filling a page each time or having something really profound written down.  Your entry may be 1-2 sentences, bullet points, a paragraph – whatever works. Allow it to be a mental marker board, a place where you work out the things that are rolling around in your head.


3. What to write.

Write out your prayer.

Record what God is doing in your life.

Take notes on talks, conferences, weekend talks, group meetings, etc.

Let your creative side come out (sketch, draw, graph, write poetry).

Talk about something that happened that you don’t want to forget.

Track tough days/good days – what made them so? 


4. Keep it with you everywhere.

You never know when or where you will be struck by something.


5. Store keepsakes/notes in the back.

Notes, encouraging quotes, concert tickets, etc.


Journaling 201

Already been writing or journaling? Try Ben’s next level tips:

Easy recall. 

Develop some way of helping yourself quickly browse your journals. There is nothing more annoying than remembering a thought or quote you heard and not being able to find it,  or not having a good way to go back to a topic a few years later. Here’s what I do:

Save the first 2-3 pages in your journal for a Table of Contents.

Organize your Table of Contents with 4 columns at the top labeled: Entry
Number, Date, Location, Topic.

At the start of each new entry or journaling time, put the entry number, date, location and topic (if it’s clear at that time) in the upper outside corner, then keep using that same entry number in the same spot on each page you fill for that day. If it’s not a clear topic, leave that blank and come back and fill it in at the end.

Update your Table of Contents as you go.


Take all the expectations off.

Try something new. Let your creative side come out. Sketch, draw, graph, write a poem, make a list, or write out a verse as a writing prompt.



Go back to a similar time frame in a past journal – what did you write about? What were your worries, joys, concerns and prayers? Use your current journal to record your reactions, thoughts, and what God has helped you to see with greater clarity.


Looking for a framework to help you journal? Scroll down for the S.O.A.P. Journaling method,  a popular, easy-to-use framework for journaling.

S.O.A.P. Journaling Method

Scripture: Ask God to point out one text in particular as you read. Write it down at the top of your entry for that day.


Observation: What does it say? Ponder its meaning, tone, and purpose. Make an observation about what’s happening, who’s affected, and what’s taking place.


Application: How does this apply to me? Write how you plan to put into practice the verse that has just been brought to your attention. Application makes the difference between hearing and doing God’s will.


Prayer: Write a prayer asking God to help apply to your life what you’ve learned.

8 replies
  1. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    The journaling 201 tips are very helpful! I often write but struggle with how to go back and make it useful later. Thanks

  2. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    This is my first time fasting and journaling. I’ve had a difficult end of the year. Focusing on faith that God has a plan. Hoping the next 21 days draws me close to Christ and also strengthens my relationship with him.

  3. Frances
    Frances says:

    Ben, I am thankful for the idea and guidance of journalism and prayer. I look forward to the next few weeks participating in this exercise of getting focused and close to God

  4. Payton34
    Payton34 says:

    This is going to be sooo hard. I’ve tried this before and have always failed. I need this study and Ben’s message big time. I look forward to its purpose in my life seeings how nothing else has worked.

  5. Mark
    Mark says:

    In recovery journaling is a great way to get things out of your head. Great for biblical reviewing your thoughts, actions, perceptions, get ready guys- your feelings! I took the grenade approach and had about 5 journals that all spanned years. They would jump around in time because I would just open it up to a random blank page and write. After writing I would flip around. Not to live in the past but I would be reminded of previous hurts, habits and hang ups and know I don’t have to be that person anymore. Reviewing would often shed light on current areas that need prayer and attention.

  6. Julie
    Julie says:

    I see this is an older post, but I just stumbled across it and found it very insightful. I’ve been journaling for years, and you’re right about the frustration of not being able to find a past entry. I like the table of contents concept. I’ll definately be using it in the future. I have journals tucked in different places all around the house and occasionally just pick them up and thumb through them. I can see how my writing has changed as my relationship with God matures. Years in journals show that my thoughts, praises and prayers didn’t change. Always the same theme, just different specifics. Recently I feel like Gods been using my journaling to really speak to my heart and help me make a stronger connection, one that will actually effect change. I love my journaling, and I’m glad I read this post. Thank you for the guidance and encouragement Ben!

  7. Tam
    Tam says:

    Thank you for the information on jounalizing. I love to journal ize my thoughts and comments. I periodically look back over what I have written to see how some of my problems have been answered by God. Things always seem to turn out better than we imagine. I like the idea of being more creative and organizing our journal. Thank you, Ben

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