The 1 practice that has helped me grow the most.

6 min. to read.

I can tell pretty quickly if someone is serious about investing in their personal and spiritual growth.

Lots of people say they want to grow. Perhaps they do. Maybe they desire a better life. They’re finally ready to get into recovery or wish for a stronger relationship with God. Maybe they had an incredible experience at a retreat or camp that filled them with motivation to see real change happen.

When folks talk with me about next steps in spiritual growth, I always ask the same question.

I ask them if they journal.

Most don’t. I ask if they are willing to start. Most say something like, “I’m just not into that diary thing,” Or “I’ve tried journaling, but it didn’t work for me.” Or most often “Oh, I don’t have time for that.”

That’s a bit like saying I really wanted to have fresh tomatoes in the garden, but that whole weeding and the fertilizing thing just didn’t work for me. If that’s how you feel, you don’t really want your own fresh tomatoes. You want someone else to grow tomatoes for you.

Fortunately, you can get decent tomatoes at the store, but there’s no store where you can pick up some spiritual growth. Nobody else can do it for you.

There are lots of tools that can be a part of a healthy, growing spiritual life. Reading and meditating on Scripture. Prayer. Worship. Service. The classical spiritual disciplines. So many options. But in twenty years of helping people pursue spiritual growth, the one thing that has consistently proven to contribute to spiritual maturity is journaling.

I’m not talking about keeping a diary or writing deep spiritual thoughts. I’m not talking about keeping a prayer list, or creative writing, or sitting in a coffee shop looking thoughtful.

Journaling for spiritual growth is a process where you reflect on your heart, your life, and what God is doing in your journey. Journaling, because of its very nature, helps you do this most effectively.

Have you tried it?

When I invite people to start journaling, I get a few common responses.

  • Some say, “Nope, that’s not for me. I’m not a writer.” I hear you. But journaling isn’t about being a writer. It’s about learning to listen to God’s work in your life.
  • Other say, “I tried that once. It didn’t really work for me.” I hear you. There are a thousand ways to journal. Prayer journals. Gratitude journals. Diaries. All of these have their place and purpose. But Journaling for Spiritual Growth is a specific kind of practice, and it’s something I’ve found that most people haven’t experienced.

Journaling has been the most consistently life-changing spiritual practice I’ve experienced in 45 years. It has become a place in my life where I regularly hear from God, where I’m challenged and encouraged, where I learn the things I need to learn in order to grow. The people I know who have followed this same path have, almost all of them, experienced the same thing.

Introducing a new course: Journaling for Spiritual Growth.

I didn’t plan on writing material about journaling at all. It’s just something I do, and something I recommend, but not something I’ve ever considered myself an expert in. I still don’t.

But this past year, during a series of sermons, I mentioned the impact journaling has had on my life, and I started getting requests. “How is this different from…” “What’s the best way for me to do this?” “Do you have anything I can use to help me get started?” And that led to this new six-week course.

I am so excited to get this into your hands. It distills the best of what I’ve learned into an easy-to-follow process that will get you started on the right track.

You read my blog here because you want a deeper spiritual life. Well, this material is one of the best gifts I can give you.  In six weeks, I’ll help you get started on building a long-term habit that will be profoundly impacting in your relationship with God, and personal growth.

This course was just want I needed in many ways. It took away all my own restrictions that I had put on myself [and having] grace for myself when I wasn’t doing it perfectly every day…I feel closer to God in our relationship!

Bernice H.

If you’re ready, subscribe now!

  • In Week 1, we’ll talk about what journaling isn’t, and some of the reasons it might not have worked for you in the past.
  • In Week 2, we’re going to talk about the secret ingredient of journaling that practically guarantees spiritual and personal growth. (It has to do with how we learn, and how journaling taps into that.)
  • In Week 3, we’ll cover the essential tools and mindsets you need to make this work.
  • In Week 4, we’ll talk about the core of journaling for spiritual growth. There are lots of ways to journal, but this core represents the vital elements that turn journaling into a spiritual practice for growth.
  • In week 5, I’m going to give you three simple templates you can use to get started.
  • In week 6, we’ll wrap things up talking about how to build a habit of journaling, and what to do when you miss a day.

In just six weeks, you’re going to have everything you need to get started. Journaling has been a life-changing exercise for me. Many people I’ve worked with tell the same story.

This practice has given me a stronger sense of personal identity. It’s led me into a deeper understanding of God’s heart. It’s been vital in helping me experience more emotional stability and a sense of peace.

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that building this habit may be the best thing you ever do for your spiritual life. It was for me.

Are you ready to get started? 

Then Opt In to my email list, and the course will be on it’s way.

44 thoughts on “The 1 practice that has helped me grow the most.

  1. Hey Mark. Looking forward to this. I” a long-time journaller, but my purpose changes all the time and I feel like I” not making any progress as a result. Holding the course brings some focus and clarity. Thanks. MG

    1. Hey Mark, I think with your experience, you’ll be able to adapt and adopt quickly. There are some key principles that made a huge difference for me. Perhaps they will help you too!

    2. I am really excited about joining because i felt compel to journal however sometimes I lose focus

  2. I’m an intermittent journaller – always write stuff on retreat but on my last retreat in October this year not much whereas on the 30 days several books worth. I’ve never been a daily diarist but I want to kickstart my writing/ journalling to see if I can hear God more fully even when I’m not on a silent IGR. Here’s hoping. & thanks –

    1. That’s my experience, too. “Never been a daily diarist.” That was one of the biggest hurdles for me to journal regularly. Glad you’re here! Let me know how it goes.

  3. Always enjoy hearing and understanding more from the heart of God, looking forward to your ideas…!

  4. Hi Marc,
    I’ve journaled since I was a kid. I can’t live without it. I’m in process of turning some of my writings into a devotional. Lately I have felt “stuck”, so I’m looking forward to learning some new things! Thanks for putting this together!

    1. That’s great. You already know how helpful this can be. Hopefully some of the principles will help you take it to a new level. I’d love to hear what you think after you’ve gone through it.

  5. I have been journaling daily, most of the time, the last couple of years, until I get sick (cancer) or injured,(most recently bitten by cat on my rt wrist on the tendon, pain and numbness), then I’m out of the loop, but I still do my best to write at least a sentence.

    1. Hey Terri, I’m so sorry to hear about the sickness and injury. I had really bad tendonitis for a couple of years, and it really impacted my ability to write. I wonder if using some kind of dictation software would help? Almost all smartphones have some kind of speech-to-text function these days. Then you could still do the reflecting and writing that journaling requires, but you wouldn’t use your hands. All the best on your journey.

  6. Hi Marc,
    I have been a journaled in the past and didn’t understand the reasoning behind it and it turned into a vent session with God. I stopped. I want to return to it with the purposes you have explained. I am so ready.

    1. That’s a common reason Journaling doesn’t seem to work for people. There’s just too much ground to cover and it can take too long. Without a clear focus it always turns into something else. Like a vent session. It’s the clear purpose that helps it be an effective tool. Let me know how the course works for you.

  7. Hi Marc,
    I unsubscribed and then re-subscribed, but still not receiving the Sunday emails. Can you help me fix this?
    Mary Ann

    1. I just checked your email address, and it looks like your were scheduled to receive the first week’s lesson today. That email went out at 3PM. If you don’t see it, (check your spam folder, or since you use gmail, check the “promotions” tab as well) let me know and I’ll re-send it to you.

  8. I’m a journaler, but currently in the form of a weekly reflective planner. I’d like to go a bit deeper.

    1. Hey Julia, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. You’re so far ahead already having built a weekly habit. Maybe my course can give you some insight to go to the deeper places you want to go. Try it out and let me know how it goes for you.

  9. Mark, I have journeled off and on for 15 years, but I always seem to run into some form of block. So I am interested in your insight and maybe it will help propel me further in the right direction — journaling for growth.

  10. I’ve been journaling for several years now. One of my biggest issue/frustration is that I am not consistent. I am looking forward to this course!

    1. I hear you! That’s my biggest struggle as well. The course will talk a bit about this, and how to address it. Let me know how it goes for you.

      I’ll say a couple things here from my own experience. I won’t say this will solve your problem–your situation is different from mine, but perhaps this will be helpful.

      First, part of the issue of consistency has to do with how well we prepare for the time and space. In my case, I journal in the early morning. If I take control of my evening the night before, make sure I get into bed on time, and follow my routines for self-care, then the morning is much easier, and I can be more consistent. Your situation may be different, but this may be a part of it.

      Second, part of the issue is taking on guilt and shame when it’s not needed. I’m a perfectionist. Missing a day used to really impact me deeply. I’d feel like a failure. And knowing, subconsciously, that I was likely to miss another day in the future, I’d lose motivation. I mean, if you can’t do something perfectly, why even try? Learning to give myself grace has been very freeing. I’m more excited to journal and do my whole FTF routine, when I’m not weighed down by the burden of pulling it off perfectly. Missing days is part of life.

      Hope that’s helpful. I’d love to hear how the course hits you, OK?

  11. Hi Marc, I am a subscriber to this series, and I have put off getting started. I don’t know what happened, but I never saw the “week one” email. I got the intro email and then 2-6. I’m sure it’s my fault. But how can I get #1 again? Thanks!

  12. Since January I having been teaching Ladies age 25-40 Sunday School class. Our literature is Beth Moore Seeking a Heart Like His, studying the life of David. It has been such a joy and enlightening experience. I hear things all the time I am journaling, and I’ve got tablets and tablets of very valuable scripture that eventually I hope to memorize over time and gain information all the while.

  13. Hi Marc, last week I signed up for the six week course on journaling and did not receive anything this past Sunday. Please advise.

    1. Hey Jeffrey, Thanks for reaching out! I just checked the queue, and your email address is all set up to receive the first lesson on the 24th, this coming Sunday. I think the day you signed up was just in the window where the system chose a Sunday one week further out than expected. If you don’t see it, check back with me here, and I’ll make sure you get it.

  14. When you say to “Opt in”, does that mean subscribe to your emails? I wasn’t sure. I am very interested to doing you 6 wk course on spiritual journaling. Thank you.

    1. Sorry for the delayed response! Yes. Opt in to the email list, and the course will be delivered to you auto-magically!

  15. I started journaling when I was in my teens, now closing in on 50 years ago. Haven’t there consiatent, and lost the one I used most recently. I want a fresh start, and look forward to your inspiration.

  16. Hi! I am very interested in journaling and have tried to subscribe numerous times on 2 separate browsers but I continue to get recaptcha not valid (0). Not sure what I’m doing wrong!!

    Thanks for your help!!

    1. Hey Becky, Thanks for letting me know. I’m not sure what’s going wrong for you. I checked my system and it looks like you successfully subscribed. You should start getting the emails from me, and the journaling course will start for you next week. You’ll see that in your inbox.

      1. Hello Marc,
        I’m getting the same error. Could you please let me know whether I am subscribed or not. Looking forward to learning more about journaling.

        1. Hey Lesley, something needs to be adjusted with my website. Working on that now. In the meanwhile, I subscribed you manually. You should start getting the automatic emails that orient you to my website, and the first email with the course should show up on Sunday. Blessings!

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