This blog is written by Henry Miersma.
Psalms Journal is a newly released book, yes, but it is really a workbook–a devotional tool that invites you to meditate and reflect on one Psalm each day for 21 straight days, prompting you to journal your observations, reflections and responses to God’s Word. Additional prompts help you create prayer points for praying into the day’s Psalm.
Tim asked me to share how the book came into being, so I’ll start by asking this: Have you ever spent a significant amount of time walking alone with someone–just the two of you? My wife Rhonda and I did that some years ago when we committed to join a group from church on a tour of Israel. We were advised to get into good hiking-shape for the trip, so we set aside multiple hours a week, for several months, to do exactly that.
Rather than walk the flat sidewalks of our neighborhood, we drove 10 minutes to a loop of fire-roads that meandered up-and-down our local hills. There we could walk side-by-side for close-to an hour while getting in a good workout.
Did we get into good hiking shape? Yes, we did. But there were added benefits, too. The hikes provided us with an extended time where we could be together, talk quietly, and catch-up with each other’s life. Those long walks together were great for our relationship.
That season helped me understand the level of relational intimacy implied by the phrase walking humbly with our God found in Micah 6:8. That phrase tells me that our Father in Heaven desires for us to slow down and regularly spend extended time alone with Him. So when Tim wrote last week about how we live in the “noisiest time in human history,” it struck a chord in me because I recognize my need to “work on my walk” and Satan is seemingly doing everything possible to distract me from spending time with God!
It was within that spirit, of desiring to work on my own walk with God, that Psalms Journal was born. But it is not why it exists.
The Genesis of Psalms Journal
Psalms Journal is a result of two adventure retreats I took in the wilderness of Utah, some twenty-five years apart. The first trip included hiking the slot canyons of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The second was a multi-day canoe trip down the Green River.
Two things tie the trips together in my mind.
First, both trips featured solo time in the profoundly stark quiet of the Utah wilderness. Second, both trips were the brainchild of my cocontributor and cousin (by marriage), Dave Tanis.
During the first trip in 1997, Dave provided the members of our group with a devotional outline to use during our quiet time. At the bottom of the sheet was a list of eighteen psalms to consider reading. The outline’s title was “Actively Acknowledging and Engaging in God’s Presence.” I used the outline during the trip and continued using it when I returned home. I’ve kept the worksheet ever since.
Fast forward twenty-five years: Dave invited me to join a group of men on a combination adventure/spiritual retreat canoeing Utah’s Green River. Remembering my need to improve my walk, I agreed to join the group. That was April of 2022.
I spent my solo time on that trip sitting on a mesa above a bend in the Green River, enjoying the protective shade of a stand of cottonwood trees and the views of red-rock canyon walls around me. It was there, while journaling, that I felt a prompt from the Spirit centered on the word writing.
I wrestled with that prompt for quite a while. After returning home and praying for several months for clarity, I didn’t feel called to write, myself. Instead, my understanding of the prompt I received is this: I believe God wants us to write—to journal, to cry out to Him from the depths of our hearts. My role has been to create a tool that encourages us to write.
That’s why Psalms Journal exists.
Once my role became clear to me, I decided to expand upon the outline Dave Tanis provided back in 1997. Consulting with both Dave and Tim Spykstra, we produced the final list of 21 psalms and the prompts that guide you through the journaling process.
Reflect, Journal, Pray
Psalms Journal is a devotional workbook that offers a guided journey through twenty-one selected psalms to help you ponder their meaning and examine their connection to your life today, all while you develop a habit of journaling and praying.
It is designed to help you with:
• Thinking–to truly focus as you ponder and meditate on His word
• Growing–in Knowledge of God’s Word
• Authenticity–in taking an honest appraisal of your own heart
• Learning–on how to be transparent with God
• Retaining–to remember what you read and study
• Referencing–tracking how God has worked in your life, both currently and in the past
• Prayer–formulate your prayers based upon the words and themes of these 21 selected Psalms
The ultimate goal is for you to discover the heart of the living God, to cry out to Him through journaling and prayer, and to strengthen your walk with Him.