Saints over the centuries have benefited from the discipline of regular reflection on their lives, journaling, and recording of their prayers. If you do a google search on "health benefits of journaling" or "writing to heal" you will find a study after study to back up that those ancient friends were onto something. Our spiritual life, relationships, entire psyche, and even a physical body can be greatly strengthened by the simple habit of carving out the time to sit and reflect.
If you meet with a spiritual director or a soul friend (or are exploring to do so), engaging in spiritual journaling is a great place to start to become more aware of your inner life.
Here is a collection of questions that you might like to glance through, and pick two or three that you feel most drawn to, and journal about them.
Questions for Self-reflection
Can you describe a time when you felt the most free? When did you feel least free?
What is something that you desire in your life these days?
What do you think God has been trying to say to you in the recent past?
How has God been present for you in past weeks? When did God seem to be absent?
What spiritual practices have been particularly meaningful to you in recent weeks? Which have been less meaningful than usual?
What do you seek from God at this point in your life?
When have you felt a strong emotion in the past days and what, if any, was your experience of God then?
In the last day or two, when or where were you most aware of the presence of God in your life?
What activities in your life seem to draw you to God? What activities seem to pull you away from God?
In the last twenty-four hours, what gave you joy? Sorrow?
Imagine Jesus walking into the room and coming to sit next to you. What would you like him to say, or do for you? What do you wish to say to him?
Children and Reflection
Some of the best ways to nurture active spiritual habits in children are to encourage their natural tendency to wonder and to invite reflective thinking.
Children are capable of profound self-reflection and very similar or same questions can be presented to them as listed above. However, depending on the age, and hence vocabulary of the child some adjustments can be helpful. It is always good to give a child an option to either show with their body, to draw or sculpture from clay their answer rather than write or tell. All of these alternative ways of responding, and the questions below are also perfectly great for adults.
How do you feel in your body when you feel safe?
Where in your body can you feel your worry and fear?
What makes you happy? What makes you sad?
What do you do when you are happy?
What are you like when you are at your best?
What is something that you are grateful for?
Imagine Jesus knocking on your room's door. What would you do or say to him? What question would you ask him? What would you like to do with him?
How does it feel like when God is with you?
Are there things that you have never told to anyone, not even God? What would it be like to talk about them with God?
What’s hard about your life right now? What’s great about your life right now?
Journaling as a Spiritual Practice: Encountering God Through Attentive Writing
by Helen Cepero
Spiritual Journaling: Recording Your Journey Toward God by Richard Peace
Seeking God Together: An Invitation to Group Spiritual Direction by Alice Fryling
Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction by David Benner
Children's Spirituality: What it is and Why it Matters by Rebecca Nye
The Examen Journal: Finding God Everyday by Mary Williams
Praying in Color: An Interactive Journal by Barbour Publishing
Ponder Cards Kids Edition by Ignatian Resources