Another type of journal that I do has only a 20 year history with me. These are my Spiritual Journals. After going through a Bad Patch in 1989, I knew that I needed a discipline of meeting with my Saviour/Redeemer/Helper/Comforter but I had no idea how this was accomplished. I heard others more advanced in their faith refer to their 'Quiet Time' but I had no idea what that was and was too embarrassed/prideful to ask them to explain. So, in 1989, while my precious neighbor watched my kids, I got alone in my living room, feeling like a nut, talking out loud to God, asking for direction, help and a plan.
This is what He gave me. (You really doubt that He spoke to me? Apparently, you are unaware at how unglued I was at the time and how positively sensible this simple plan was and that I was incapable of putting two rational thoughts together at the time yet here was an extraordinary plan for meeting with the one who had The Plan For My Life.)
He gave me a systematic plan for reading through the Bible, expressing my thoughts, concerns, noting verses that spoke to me, verses that I didn't understand and convenience of convenience, a To Do list as well. As a busy mama of four children, this just Made Sense.
I was used to getting up with Hubby with his early morning schedule, so I just began that next morning after he went to work. I was already up and thinking, the kids were still sleeping and all was silent; chores were not even yelling yet.... I opened my notebook and placed the date and day of the week at the top. I read a chapter of Proverbs (a must for young mamas!) correlating to the day of the month, and listed that under the date. If a particular verse stood out that I might want to memorize (!) or tattoo on my being, I noted it there. I read one Psalm, mostly picked randomly, for there is many, and noted it next. Again, highlighting good verses for the day. Then I began in Genesis in the Old Testament, one chapter, and Matthew in the New. One chapter, reading like a novel, not like a heavy duty study. I would note words that perplexed me or statements that I didn't get in context. I would ask Hubby about it later or ask friends that I met that day, about it. It sometime spurred interesting conversations....If by chance, a child would awaken, he/she knew it was Quiet Time,called that for a reason. Youngest Son was one that joined me the most often. Being quite the busy boy, he knew that he had to sit still next to me with a book and wait till I completed my time with God. Oddly, he understood and acquiesced. He would sit with his books in his lap and watch me, asking me frequently, Mama, you still talking to God? I have cherished scribbles in my bible from his little hand. He would watch me underline and note in mine so I could hardly scold when he was copying what I was doing. I think he enjoyed this alone time with mama, sitting quietly, waiting for God to appear.....(If he would have been more knowledgeable of God's changing power, he would have known that, indeed, He did show up; visiting my Redeemer before I started my day, made for a much, much better mama, calmer, more patient and more loving. Without? Yikes.)
After reading, I would write out a prayer culled from the Ancient Words in the text. Sometimes very thankful and praise filled. Other times,I would rant and curse, a la David in the cave. Sometimes I asked questions but always I would acknowledge Him as my Lord. Following that, came my prayer requests that were prompted into my mind; details of needed intercession written down in phrases preceded with short lines or asterisks. It is these prayer requests, written so long ago, that are so special today. Seeing answers in all their different forms many years later, that stands strong for the sovereignty of God in my life.
When the inevitable interruption of day to day thought collided into my conscious, I would quickly write it down in the upper margin, reminding me to check the smoke alarm battery, pick up dry cleaning or thaw meat for supper. It was wonderful to unload my brain for later attention. And is God's plan, when I put Him first, He would prompt me to the minutiae of the daily. Oft times, He would prompt me to write: Invite Smiths for supper; Pray for Mary; rough day for her; Write thinking of you note to Jean. Always endearing, encouraging, helpful and not from me. From Him. I was 'too busy' to come up with this sweet things. I was too enveloped in my own things to look outside as often as He directed me. So these things got written down in the upper margin for later attention.
And that is it. Taking perhaps a half hour. Sometimes more; sometimes less. Never actually timed it. Never got legalistic or automatic about it. It was just something I did, Had to do, to get through this life. His comfort and direction and instruction. Ever put together a complex machine together without the manual? That's how I felt before I started this practice.
I encourage you to ask how your Quiet Time should look like. Ask Him. He has a plan for you and He wanted me to share mine with you.