Why should I consider journaling ? For me, personally, in order to understand and practice a deeper (contemplative) form of prayer, journaling opened the door. Listening to the inner Voice of the Lord, and writing down the words He speaks or things He shows me in a notebook, causes me to stay with that prayer for longer periods of time. It is the key He uses to unlock this deeper conversation for me - and it gives me a written guideline of what He's revealing to me in my spiritual journey, which I use as a 'log' to share with my Spiritual Director.
How does this change my everyday prayer ? It helps me to listen more intently, more often and more consciously, to His interior movement on a more continual basis. The practice of frequent journaling helps me to be more disciplined in my prayer, and more aware of His indwelling Presence throughout each day, all day - whether the journal is in my reach or not. It makes contemplative prayer more habitual rather than something out of the norm.
St. Paul tells us how important this is in his letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 6:18, stating that we should "pray at all times in the Spirit". This means that my prayer does not end because I walk away from silent prayer time in church. It is Paul's beautiful way of saying that we should be aware of His presence within us at all times and move, walk, talk, breathe in union with Him throughout the day. This is the awesome door that gets opened to us by journaling.
I remember when I first began to journal I had made up my mind that I needed to be sitting in front of His Eucharistic Presence in order to 'hear' Him better. Boy, did THAT become a problem after a very short time! Not only did I have a hard time getting out of the house to go find a quiet hour during the evening - but try and find an unlocked church at 8:00 p.m. on a weekday! I quickly realized that I was the one setting that limitation, and that the Lord wanted me to allow Him to speak to me everywhere, anytime, any place. It became an eye-opening lesson of how I tossed God in the closet after quiet prayer time - and pretty much ignored Him throughout my busy day. It also became obvious that His gifts of peace and joy would quickly dissipate after I closed Him up in the pages of my journal and opened wide the door to the chaos of the world.
In the most patient and loving way He was determined to teach me how to let Him into every part of my daily life, and not just keep Him at bay until I could 'fit Him in' for prayer time. Thankfully, the teachings continued, and in time I started to realize that every moment without Him was tasteless, joyless and wasted. Every moment in union with Him was an adventure, a mystery and an opportunity to be part of salvation history. Once that revelation hit home, it was pretty evident that His way needed to my way - and it was going to take much more from me to let go of everything contrary to that Truth....