Jacob Vandenbark wanted a way to draw nearer to God, to be consistent in his daily devotions and to be organized spiritually. He looked for something that would help him do this and could not find exactly what he wanted. So he decided to create a system or notebook that would help him accomplish his goals. The result was The Near Journal.

The Near Journal was developed around 5 sections that form five parts for each day’s devotion. The Near Journal can be used to guide the reader’s personal Bible reading and devotional time, or it may be used with a guided Bible Study. The five sections are 1. Room to Write; 2. Personal Growth and Accountability; 3. Cultivating Thankfulness; 4. Power of Prayer; 5. Memorization of Scripture.

Vandenbark writes about personal growth and encourages the reader to select one thing on which they want to improve over the next 90 days, why do they want to improve in that area and commit to focus on that area. The reader is also encouraged to memorize scripture and there is even a method given to help make memorization easier.

For each day, there is a space for the reader to reflect and write about their thoughts and feelings, a place to write what they feel they must do in the coming week to move closer to the goal they set; a place to list thanks, blessings and gratitude, a section to list prayer requests for themselves and for others, and finally a section to reflect on the memory verse for that week and how it might help the reader to move closer to their goal.

This description of the journal sounds as if the journal is very complicated to use, but actually, it is quite easy. I found in going through the journal these last few weeks, that it does help me to focus during my devotion time and it is very helpful in guiding me towards reaching my goal.

I would recommend this journal to anyone who wants to improve their devotional time, who wants to “kick it up a notch” or who perhaps has never done any journaling. I believe you will find that your spiritual life will be greatly enriched.

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