Does Gratitude Journaling Work For Christians?

Does Gratitude Journaling Work For Christians?

If you put the words ‘gratitude journal’ into your search engine it will come up with over 90,000,000 results. So, does such popularity mean that it’s just another ‘wellness fad’, or is it a spiritual discipline from which we all can benefit? The answer to that question depends entirely on how you use your gratitude journal; but before we look at the ‘how’ let’s consider the ‘why’.

As Christians, we know that irrespective of what the latest social media buzz may be, the only true wisdom is the Holy Word of God: if it’s important you’ll find it in the Bible and the Bible has a lot to say about ‘gratitude’. The Book of Psalms is filled with expressions of King David’s gratitude. Saint Paul lived his entire Christian life as an act of gratitude for his salvation, and he emphasizes in his letters to the early Christian churches the necessity of living in a state of gratitude to God.

‘Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through him.’ Colossians 3:16-17

When Jesus heals ten lepers his expectation is that all ten will show their gratitude to God.

‘Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Luke 17:18

Gratitude is the will of God and it is through the act of Christian gratitude that we are able to draw closer to God. This is where Christian gratitude distinguishes itself from the complacent, self- congratulatory journaling of the ‘gee my life is so good’ sort. Saint Paul understood that gratitude is a necessary state of mind even in

‘I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.’ Phillipians 4:12-13

Of course, the Bible makes no mention of ‘gratitude journaling’ but we can see that in some ways the psalms and the letters of Saint Paul are just that. The online writer Emily Drefuss responds to the social media popularity of gratitude journaling in this way: ‘Just because gratitude has become commoditized and hashtagged, doesn’t mean it isn’t a legitimately transformational way to experience life.’ So how, as Christians, can we use gratitude journaling as a tool with which to deepen our faith?

When we write things down we clarify them in our minds; the struggle of putting our ideas into words illuminates our understanding, and God speaks directly to us as we do so. Making a record of our gratitude enables to look back and reflect on our spiritual journey and to see God at work in our lives. You might choose to begin your journaling with stillness, allowing God to enter your heart, or you may choose to record your gratitude in a prayer.

Read the Scripture and reflect upon its application to your life and the gratitude that you owe. Savor life in both its joys and sorrows and be grateful for the opportunity to correct your wrongs and draw closer to God. A gratitude journal, kept with an open and honest heart, will help you to glorify God and bring you ‘the peace which passeth understanding.’


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