Now that we have a grasp on the origins and “why” behind the rhythms, let’s see how we use them. As we get going, I want to be sensitive to three specific groups of users:
- First time users – those who are using The Rhythm Journal for the very first time.
- Returning users – those who have been through at least one journal.
- All users – first time, returning, everyone.
I will try to highlight things relevant to the different groups as we go.
Tips for first time users
- Do not try to do everything on every page everyday from the start. You could easily become overwhelmed and quit. The journal should serve you; you don’t serve the journal.
- Make your goal to be consistent with the Sunday rhythms of Renew, Review, and Preview. These rhythms are the foundation for the rest of the week. Make Sunday’s a priority.
- Give yourself some grace to develop the habit of the daily Rise and Rest rhythms. Building new habits takes time. If you miss a day or three, or a Rise or a Rest, it’s fine. Aim for three days a week for the first few weeks.
- Be aware that the rhythm of Rest might be challenging to add to daily life. Most people don’t have a night time habit of devotions. In testing the journal, Rest was very rewarding when done, but also required more discipline to do consistently.
Tips for all users
- Set Calendar alarms. Since these might be new habits, or modifications to existing habits, I strongly suggest setting reminders for yourself Monday through Saturday for both morning (Rise) and evening (Rest) times. For Sunday pick a time and set an alarm for that as well. There is nothing unspiritual about an alarm!
- Journal in a distraction-free environment. Ideally you should do this without any technology present. You want your mind as undistracted as possible. If you have to use your smart phone or tablet for your Bible then put it in airplane mode while you are in your journal.
- Rise before checking social media, email, etc. Granted, in the Supplication part of Rise you are asked to look at your schedule. If that’s online then that’s what you gotta do, but then turn that noise off.
- Rest before rest. Before settling in for the night, before you read a book or watch TV to go to sleep, Rest.
- Share. If you learn any tips as you go I’d love to hear them.
The Beginning – Approx. 15-30 min.
- First Time User – Take the time to do this rhythm before you dive in to the rest of the journal.
- Returning User – You could copy your notes from The End of your previous journal, or start fresh.
As you consider live your life walking with God at His PACE, with His Purposes, Actions, Choices, and how you have Evolved (changed over time) as a result, consider these three questions:
- Where have you been?
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want to be?
Try to answer at least one of the three questions for each part of PACE. To help you process through these questions, here are some ideas to consider.
- What did your life with Jesus look like three months ago? A year ago?
- What do you want to see improved?
- Is there someone who has a walk with Jesus that you want to model? Write their name in and note what it is you want to see in your own life.
- What are some specific characteristics that you want to develop?
- What do you want your life with Jesus to look like three months from now? A year from now?
We can’t grow unless we stop and reflect on these kinds of questions. Once you’ve taken some time to reflect through this rhythm, you’re ready to begin. Remember to refer back here from time to time if you can’t think of Daily Rhythms that you want to develop.
Renew, Review, & Preview – Sundays, approx. 20-30 min.
The Rhythm Journal is not about checking off boxes and getting it done. It’s about growth. It’s about change. Slow down and make space for the Spirit to speak. Make and take the time to do this.
Start by writing the date at the top of the Renew page. Remember, Renew is built around the command “to keep on presenting yourselves” in Romans 12:1-2. In this section, there are prompting questions in the boxes on the left designed to focus on different elements of these verses. There is room on the right to answer the prompts. For some, this might not be very much space to answer. It’s a good discipline to narrow down your thoughts to a short, concise statement. If it helps, think of writing a Tweet or a news headline. What is the thing that the prompts bring to mind?
Give yourself time to think through the past week and ask the Spirit to bring to your mind anything that might be helpful.
- First Time User – You won’t have anything to review in the first week of your first journal. You can skip this until next Sunday. For now, read through this section anyway in preparation for next week.
This helps you look at the previous week and observe any trends or patterns in your Rhythms from which you can learn, change, and grow.
Go back through the previous week and record the Daily Rhythms from each day of the week in the corresponding boxes on the left. The lines on the right don’t need to connect to the boxes on the left, though they can if you wish. It can be a free writing space.
- Are there any kind of patterns to the Rhythms?
- Were they mostly responding to difficult things, like Patience?
- Were they proactive or positive, like Joy or Thankfulness?
- Do they tend to follow the course of your weekly life rhythms?
Updates On People Who Need Jesus
Use the Bookmark to help you remember people and prayers for their salvation. Make a note of any updates or progress. (The Bookmark is described later in The Process.)
Preview is about taking what you observed is Renew and Review, looking at the week to come, and planning out any potential Rhythms on which the Spirit prompts you to focus.
Remember our working definition of a Rhythm in the daily context:
A Rhythm is a Godly characteristic that you can partner with the Holy Spirit to cultivate in your life.
Perhaps a Rhythm of Diligence for that work presentation on Tuesday. Or a Rhythm of Grace for the meeting with your kid’s coach on Thursday. Write the Rhythms and the reasons and the reasons for them in the boxes and corresponding lines. You can also leave them blank and see how the Spirit wants to lead you that day.
Refer back to this page over the course of the week to find your Daily Rhythm, or you write them on the Bookmark for quick reference.
People Who Need Jesus.
While much can be said about prayer and how people are saved, they have one thing in common; God partners with people in both.
You know people who need Jesus. You may not know that God wants to use you to be a part of their salvation story. Pick three people and dedicate yourself to praying for their salvation everyday this week. Why limit it to three? So that you can focus your effort. At the end of the week, note any updates in the Review section. The following week you might be led to change up the list or keep it the same. Pray as the Spirit leads you to pray. Now you have a very cool journal of how people came to Jesus.
Verse of the Week
The Verse of the Week is intended to be a verse that either encourages you in hearing God’s voice, or to take some kind of practical action in following The Lord. You might use it as a memory verse. Or you might find it to be an anchor for the week that God has you come back to for stability. Who knows? It might be the very verse you, or someone you encounter, needs at a specific time that week. Write it on the back of the Bookmark.
Rise & Rest – Monday – Saturday, approx. 15-30 min. each.
Remember that you want to be in a distraction-free environment, whatever that means for you. You are taking time in the morning to meet with God and partner with Him. You’re also taking time in the evening to review your day with Him. Understand that you don’t have to use every section, every “beat” every day. I will highlight the beats that should be done every day and the ones that are “as needed” as we go.
Rise – Reading, Inspiration, Supplication, Expression
Rise is done at the beginning of your day. Write the date and the preplanned Rhythm from the Preview section, if any, at the top of the page. You may find that you won’t discover Today’s Rhythm until the end of the Rise process. The rest of the page is used to build a mindset and heart-set for the day. Each part is a step, not a standalone block. The steps build into to a time of prayer designed to help you engage the day with the Holy Spirit. I refer to each of the four steps as a “beat”.
Reading – Do this daily.
Note what passage(s) you read here. I would suggest using a reading plan. There are hundreds available for free online and as part of many Bible apps. You could also use one of the the Rhythm Patterns continually being developed by myself and others in The Rhythm Journal Community.
Inspiration – Do this daily.
This beat isn’t so much about Bible study as it is observing your own reaction to the passage and why. Were you encouraged? Were you corrected? Was your interest piqued and you want to dig deeper? Were you confused? Make a note as to what or why.
Why should you note that you were confused by something in the Bible? Because something very interesting can happen. When you come across something that you don’t understand, do two things; (1) put Jesus right in the middle of it and see what happens, and (2) intentionally pray that God would show you the answer to the confusion today and in the days to come. You will find that something that seems totally disconnected will resolve your confusion in a way that is amazingly encouraging and even an answer to prayer.
Supplication – Do the first section of this daily.
Supplication means to ask for something you need, for a supply of something. We go to God in prayer, but prayer isn’t just going to God with a shopping list of what we need. Prayer is partnering with God to build His Kingdom in us and through us. Take your needs to The Lord, but also ask The Lord for what, or whom, He would have you pray. Ask Him what He wants you to know today, and take a moment to just listen. Write down whatever comes to mind. There will be things you need, but also things you hadn’t even considered. This will be used at the end of Rise.
Lord’s Prayer – This is an optional daily piece. Printed near the front of The Rhythm Journal is what is usually referred to as The Lord’s Prayer. It’s broken up into six parts and connected to a day of the week. Each part is also summarized into a few words. Write either today’s section of the verse, or the summary, here. The purpose is to make the Lord’s Prayer and it’s rhythm a part of your daily and weekly rhythms. You can find the summary for the day on the Bookmark as well. The summary serves as a nice shorthand to remind you what the day’s part is about.
Prayer Focus – This is an optional daily piece. Sometimes we need a suggestion, or a reminder, of what to pray for that day. The Prayer Focus can help you target an area of prayer for the day. Here are four suggestions;
- Relationship – This is focused on a specific relationship or a category of relationship which you feel impressed to pray about today. Think spouse, parent, child, co-worker, boss, employee, etc.
- Discipleship – This is actually about praying for yourself in regards to your own relationship with Jesus. Discipleship is the intentional process of becoming more like Jesus. What in you needs prayer so as to be shaped more like Jesus?
- Church – This has to do with something related to your church. Think pastor, ministry in which you are involved, missions, etc.
- Occupation – This is a broad term for a few possible areas of life. It could be your job, your actually occupation. For teens or young adults it could be school which is your occupation.
Expression – Do the first section of this daily.
How can the Reading, Inspiration, and Supplication, be expressed in the day ahead? What meetings, tasks, homework, boring chores, or even free time can be impacted by the previous beats? This is where you think through the day ahead and connect the beats, so to speak.
Summarized Conversation Verse – This is an optional daily piece. Think of this as a daily challenge between you and the Holy Spirit. What verses from today’s Reading can you work into a conversation with someone today? What is the nugget from the verses? What would God have you share with someone else from today’s Reading?
Putting it all together
Again, these beats are not check boxes to mark off. They build to this moment. It isn’t read, check. Pray, check. Take all of the stuff you wrote out and make it all your prayer to connect to your day. Don’t forget to incorporate the People Who Need Jesus from your Bookmark. Remember to pray to keep on being filled with the Spirit.
Indexed Checkbox – There is an Indexed box at the bottom of the page so you can note if God did something especially “landmark” worthy. Check the box then log it in the Index.
Rest – Review, Engage, Surrender, Thanksgiving.
Rest is done in the evening. It is perhaps the most challenging to do consistently. Remember, The Rhythm Journal is about being intentional; doing something on purpose with purpose. Having put intentional effort into the beginning of your day, it’s time to intentionally review your day and see how it went. This is done through a series of prompting questions. It’s not about answering these specific questions exclusively. It’s about letting the Holy Spirit in to show you how He was active in your life today and building on that. All of this is about building God’s PACE into your life.
Review – This should be done daily.
Review is just what is says on the tin. It’s the end of the day and you might already be thinking about tomorrow. Stop. Pause. Don’t skip over what God did today while trying to get a jump start on tomorrow. Go back through your Rise notes. Think back through your day, and note any connections.
Engage – Doing this daily depends on the events of the day.
Stuff happened today. Some of it went your way, some of it didn’t. In order to build on the good and correct the bad you need to Engage it.
Surrender – Doing this daily depends on the events of the day.
Some of today’s stuff was out of your control. Maybe it cost you. Or maybe it put you ahead. Your reaction may have been poor appropriate. Take time to note the good, the bad, or sin that might need to be confessed. Memorizing 1 John 1:9 is helpful in that case.
Thanksgiving – This should be done daily.
The amount of research on how being thankful effects our attitudes and our health is astonishing. It’s no wonder we are often told in scripture to be thankful. I don’t know about you but I often forget to be thankful. Someone said, “A happy person isn’t always a thankful person. But a thankful person is always a happy person.” It’s time to slow down and give thanks “in all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The good and the bad.
Putting it all together
As with Rise, it’s time to take the notes you made in the Rest beats and take it all to God, including Tomorrow’s Rhythm. You can get that from the Preview section, your Bookmark, or perhaps the Spirit tells you something different. You could even leave it blank and see what tomorrow holds.
Indexed Checkbox – There is an Indexed box at the bottom of the page so you can note if God did something especially “landmark” worthy. Check the box then log it in the Index.
The End – Approx. 15-30 min.
There are enough weekly rhythms for 13 weeks. At the end of the 13 weeks;
- go back and read your notes from The Beginning,
- either skim through the weeks or browse through The Index for any landmark moments,
- and walk through the same process looking at PACE and three questions that were asked in The Beginning. Answer them again with the past three months in mind.
So, which goals did you reach in your relationship with God? In The Beginning you wrote where you wanted to be. How are you doing in relation to that? Take some time to pray and thank God for what He’s been doing in and through your life!
Where do you find the Index? At the back of the book. This is where you’ve been recording your landmark moments. God has spoken to you, answered prayer, taught you something new. Check the Indexed box on the day, and flip back here to make a note of it. Now you have an easily to accessible record of God’s interaction in your life.
Included with The Rhythm Journal are 13 Bookmarks, one for each week. (If you need more you can download and print them). The purpose of the Bookmarks is to help reduce the amount of page flipping. Included on the Bookmarks is;
- Sunday’s Date – fill in Sunday’s date so you know to which week this Bookmark belongs.
- This Week’s Rhythms – If you used the Preview section from Sunday to map out any Rhythms in advance you, can write them here for easy access.
- Reading Plan – Assuming you’ve found a reading plan or a Rhythm Pattern to use, write the references for this week’s reading here.
- The Lord’s Prayer – The shorthand version of each piece in The Lord’s Prayer as found near the front of The Rhythm Journal.
- People Who Need Jesus – Write the names of the people for which you are praying as noted in the Preview section from Sunday.
- Verse of the Week – On the back of the Bookmark you can write the Verse of the Week as found at the bottom of the Preview section. Use it as a memory verse if you like.
DIY and Coming Soon
One of my dreams for The Rhythm Journal is that a community would be built up around it, contributing to it in ways I can’t even imagine, sharing stories of how God works in and through people’s lives who are building His Kingdom. Below are some examples of what you can do on your own as well as what’s in development.
The Sticky Notes – DIY
Some people will find these useful, some not so much. If you like a visual reminder from your morning Rise rhythm that you can have in front of you while you are at your desk, in the house, in the car, then this is for you. Having gone through Rise, write down the following on a sticky note;
- From God – What did the Lord tell you in the Supplication beat?
- Lord’s Prayer – Write the summery of today’s section of The Lord’s Prayer.
- Prayer Focus – What is it you want to focus on today in prayer?
- Salvation For – Who are you praying for this week that needs Jesus?
- Con-Verse – What was today’s conversation verse that you wanted to share with someone?
The idea is that as you are going about your day, you could have this somewhere in your field of vision, glance at it, and be reminded of what the Lord wants to do today. It’s another way to help you “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I considered having pads of these pre-printed for people to fill out. If there is enough of a demand I will have them produced. Let me know if you’re interested!
The Rhythm Patterns
A Rhythm Pattern is a “plug-and-play” guide designed to help you develop specific Rhythms in your life. It consists of a Bible reading schedule and a set of short devotional readings.
For example, you want to build a Rhythm of Patience. There would be a downloadable PDF with a six-day reading plan and short readings for each day. Patience would be your Daily Rhythm every day of the week.
I also have ideas for more extended Rhythm Patterns taking people through passages like the fruit of the Spirit, the armor of God, “think on these things” from Philippians 4, and whatever user requests might come in. I’m also hoping for community-created Rhythm Patterns! I’m really exited for these.
The Rhythm Journal Music – Community
I like to have music on while I’m journaling. Ideally, music without lyrics. Good music, but not distracting. I’m currently working with a couple of artists to create a collection of tracks for everyone to use. Hopefully they will serve as inspiration for other artists to create tracks for the community. I’m also open for input for some curated Spotify playlists.
The Online Community
A private Facebook Group is on the horizon. There is already a Facebook Page (/therhythmjournal), Twitter (@myrhythmjournal) and Instagram (@therhythmjournal) feeds. The website will be a hub for all things Rhythm Journal with guest writers from the community.
Yes, there are plans for an app. I realize I explained and encouraged the benefits of writing things out by hand, but in our digital world, many people enjoy doing things in this form. Why deny them since I tend to be one of them?
For people who want to go deeper and perhaps want personal training in how to best use The Rhythm Journal, there will be online workshops.