There is no right or wrong way to keep a journal. It is a reflection of your unique relationship with Jesus, and it only requires a commitment on your part to take the time to do it. Once you have decided it is a valuable tool in your journey with Him, you can decide how it will look.
We like mission trip journals because they…
… help you reflect on your daily experiences. This helps lead to insight and understanding about God’s character, about yourself and about the world around you.
… provide an opportunity for you to listen to God’s voice and learn the things He wants to teach you. Since we believe in a sovereign God who is Lord over the world and every daily incident that comes into our lives, we need to take time to examine what happens in order to learn. Writing these things in a journal commits us to examine them and allows God to speak to us through them.
… help you be honest with yourself and with God. The Psalms are full of gutsy, honest communication with God about all sorts of difficulties and joys in life. Though He already knows how we feel at every moment, He wants us to pour out our hearts before Him with vulnerability and sincerity. Writing this in a journal helps us to see what is going on in our hearts, the way He already does.
… enable us to remember and therefore have hope. When we take time to look back at the things God has done in our lives, the prayers He has answered, the gifts He has given or the trials He has brought us through, it encourages us to trust Him in the future. It causes our hope in Jesus to grow stronger as we become more confident in His unfailing love and faithfulness. Our life story becomes the avenue by which we truly see Him, know Him and love Him.
Here are some questions and ideas to consider as you journal. Try picking three or four each day to think and write about during your mission trip.
- What is my dominant emotion or thought right now?
- What aspect of God’s character am I most thankful for today? In what aspect am I struggling to trust?
- What was my most significant experience today?
- At which moment did I feel most fulfilled today? Why? At what moment did I feel most frustrated? Why?
- Is there a story I really want to remember? (Include sounds, smells, sights, feelings, etc.)
- Am I showing love to the people around me? What aspect of this different culture do I appreciate? What aspect am I struggling to understand or accept?
- Did I practice constantly abiding in God’s presence today? Did I love Him with my affections and my actions? When did I find myself loving me more than Him?
- What do I appreciate about my team members, leaders, national Christians, etc? If I am having conflict with anyone, am I addressing it in the way the Bible instructs?
- What am I learning about myself? What are things I would like God to help me change? What do I want to do differently tomorrow?
Pray & Reflect
“Prayer does not equip us for the greater work—prayer is the greater work.” ~ Oswald Chambers
What is prayer?
Write down a few thoughts. Then work through the bible studies below as you prepare for your mission trip.
Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
- What does love have to do with praying?
- Why is it easier to pray with our hearts detached?
- Paul says our prayers are simply noise if they do not stem from a sincere love for Jesus Christ and a love for His people. How much of your prayer life is noise?
Read Isaiah 29:13
- What is the difference in honouring Him with our lips, but our hearts being far from Him?
- How can we be completely honest with God, our hearts fully engaged in prayer, and yet be willing to lay aside our own desires in order for His purpose to be accomplished?
- What is needed in order to pray with our hearts near to God, rather than far from Him?
Read James 5:16
- Why do we need to confess our sins? Who benefits from this?
- Are there things we are harboring that we have not confessed— unforgiveness, bitterness, judgmental attitudes, fear, pride, etc? All these things are a tool of the enemy.
Read Matthew 6:9-13
- If this prayer were answered in your life, what would that look like? What might it cost you?
- If you used this prayer in vs. 10 when interceding for others, what would you be asking for? What would you not be asking for?
- What hinders the coming of His kingdom?
- How is His will done in heaven? What allows His will to be done on earth?
Read 1 John 5:14-15
- How do we know if we are praying according to God’s will?
- What role does our faith play in answered prayer?
- Do you feel you are tempted to pray for “small” or “easy” things? Why or why not?
- What things do we know for sure are God’s will, and can thus pray for with confident assurance? List some specifics from the Bible.
Has God ever surprised you with some different forms or ways of praying? When you are on your trip, you may want to try different forms or postures of prayer such as singing and worship, praying scripture and prayer walking.