“Letters mingle souls.” —John Donne
“You show that you are a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” —2 Corinthians 3:3
As a new Christian, though I loved my heavenly Father deeply, I found it nearly impossible to verbalize my feelings to Him in prayer. I was self-conscious and stilted. It was difficult to concentrate and to articulate my deepest feelings for God. My endearments were spoken scattershot—blurted erratically, thrown haphazardly to the wind. I began to realize that sentiments so treasured, so tender, must be carefully weighed and thoughtfully considered, mined like gems from the heart’s depths.
Then one day I took the time to write a letter to God. It was amazing! My emotions poured forth, spilling over from my heart’s reservoir of love. Somehow the very act of writing—this praying on paper—had released a geyser of feelings formerly unexpressed.
Yet this experience really should have come as no surprise. After all, God, our supreme Lover, our great Romancer, knew that a wonderful way to woo His beloved and express His emotions was through a love letter, the Bible. He knew that “letters mingle souls,” and He gave us His heart-print in ink so that we would have the joy of reading, pondering, and tracing its testimony over and over again. Because the spoken word is ephemeral, God bestowed us with a lasting testament of His passion.
God took great pleasure in giving us His written love letter, the Bible. And we can assume He would also take great delight in receiving our written response. Because God is a writer, it is only natural that we, created in His image, are writers also.
As one writer has noted, “Love always wants to proclaim itself, to write itself everywhere: in the sand, in the fire, with flowers, in the wind.” David, the psalmist and king, knew this. He declared, “My heart is overflowing with a beautiful thought! I will write a lovely poem to the King, for I am as full of words as the speediest writer pouring out his story.” When David’s psalms were put on paper, the abundance of his heart naturally spilled over into a collection of love letters, the Psalms—the book of Scripture many of us treasure most.
Oh, how we cherish love letters! We wait breathlessly to receive them. We read and reread them. We sprinkle them with perfume, tie them with a satin ribbon, and store them in a gorgeous box. We savor them because they make us feel extraordinary—because someone thought enough of us to write, because someone took the time and effort to reveal his inmost, passionate thoughts, because someone trusted us with the greatest gift of all, his heart.
It is the gift of your whole heart that God most desires—a heart without pretense or posturing; a heart in all its honesty, beauty, passion, and brokenness; a heart pulsing with love, joy, sadness, delight, doubt, pain, anguish, even anger. True love expresses all emotions, and true love—God’s true love for you—accepts them.
The most beautiful way I have found in which to wrap the gift of my heart is in a letter. Love letters are “our heart on our sleeve, our battle standard, our essence, our indelible signature, our emotional fingerprint, our private well of memory…our true secret self.”
It is our hidden self we most long to reveal. My love letters reveal my truest essence—my soul made visible in all its intimacy and intricacy. I cannot help but love God because He loves me; I cannot help but write to God because He has written to me. I take the time to write because my Lover is worthy of my efforts. I write because, though physically unseen, God is real, and writing draws me closer to Him. I write because I desire to offer Him more than a hurried “I love You” on the run. I write because I long to embroider my passion with a flourish of my pen, an embellishment of my heart. I write because my spoken sentiments are evanescent, and I desire a permanent way to preserve my thoughts. I write because God values my prayers so much that He says He sprinkles them with incense and saves them in the “golden bowls of heaven.”
My ups, my downs, my victories, my defeats, my adoration, my apathy, my faith, my doubts, my questions—and God’s responses—are recorded in my journals. These entries are love letters from my heart to God’s—messages from His heart to mine—letters sent special delivery to and from heaven that have changed my life on earth. I sign my letters in ink that will one day fade. But God signs His in indelible ink—the blood of His Son shed for me, blood that covers my imperfection and allows me to pray openly to God.
Note: This blogpost excerpted from a longer essay in Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer © 2004 by Lynn D. Morrissey. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. Quotations by Michelle Lovric, How to Write Love Letters (New York: Shooting Star Press, 1995), 7.
Lynn D. Morrissey
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Lynn, this post brings to me such a sweet memory of a dear mentor/friend who journaled with me through my teen years. Through her I learned the wonder of words flowing from the heart to the page and, at the same time, to the heart of God. What a gift!
Thanks so much, Michele, for sharing such a sweet memory. What a wonderful mentor to invest straight into your own word-crafting future. I love all you write, and I know your journals must be goldmines of inspiration from which to excavate your thoughts!
What a lovely way to pour out our hearts to God. I started doing this when I was growing up, and oh how I wish I had kept those letters to God so I could take a peek and remember my journey with Him.
Elizabeth! It’s never too late to start again. Think of the spiritual wealth you will be accumulating from this time forward, *and* to leave for your children! What a treasure. I do know that it would have been neat to read the words of your younger self. I did save one little diary. What a treat to take a peek back. Joyful journaling to you!
This is so timely, as I was reading in my devotionals about love and God. The same love we want from our husbands, that deep down personal romantic “you get me” love is the same love God desires. That personal relationship kind of love.
Debra, He surely loves you like that, as you do Him. What better way to express your love for the Lord than to pen a letter just for Him? I hope you will try this kind of journaling. I believe that He will transform your relationship with Him into one of even deeper intimacy! Joyful Journaling!
Love this! I don’t journal every day, but when I do, I’m always blessed or encouraged or relieved to pour out my heart to God and meet Him in that sacred space. Thank you for your encouragement through the years! Would love to sit in on one of your workshops one of these days!
Christin, thank you always for such generous words. And I love how journaling has drawn you closer to the Lord over the years. Wow, you hit on something else–relief! Yes, journaling unto Him can surely be a relief. That is part of the point: to get whatever needs releasing out from where it burdens our soul and onto the page. I’m thinking it can be a special way of LETTING GO (to use your book title! 🙂 ). Would love to have you in class anytime! I can picture you and Prince Andrew journalng side by side. Give him my love, and love to you always.
Well done, sister. Your words about our Father and His heart always stir within my soul. Moving and passionate words that bring Him honor. May our words always lift Him up and touch the hearts of others by His spirit. And thanks for the reminder of why we write to begin with, Lynn.
floyd, how kind and encouraging and generous you always are to me. And it always blesses me beyond words to know that a man read my book and has journaled as a result. I know God is blessing you through both His Word and the words you write back to Him. And yes! You get it. This is a primary purpose for His gift of writing…to glorify Him and to share with others. Thank you so much Floyd. You are a dear friend.
Your beautiful words always encourage me to keep meeting with God on the pages of my journal where I can be completely honest and completely loved. Thank you for encouraging this gift in me and others.
Kelly Ann, so grateful for your stopping by to encourage me today…and if I may do that for you, even a little, I am profoundly blessed. I know journalng has been your passion for some time. I totally agree….we need a place to be fully honest and transparent w/ God. And what better place than on the private, sacred pages of our journals? God meets and heals and helps us there. Love you so much!
Beautiful words from your beautiful book and heart, Lynn! Always refreshing to keep in our hearts how the Lord is longing for our love letters as much as He longs for us to rejoice in His to us! Those written in His book, and those written into ur daily lives. I love your book… thanks for sharing this again today!
Pam, your kind encouragement always means the world to me. And yes, I truly believe that our heavenly Father longs for our letters back to Him. Can you imagine them filling the golden bowls of heaven (recall that Scripture I quoted)? It’s a beautiful image. And He has also uniquely gifted you to write love letters to your readers. That is how I feel when I read your blog, as if you have penned an intimate letter just for me! Bless you, dearest one.
Those thoughts mean the world to me in kind, Lynn. Yes, I love that scripture, and how God mixes in His holy fire and pours those bowls out at the right time… He showed me that image once as I was praying for someone I’d prayed my whole life for, that He was pouring out all those prayers over that one….Beautiful.
So love that our hearts beat in tandem, dearest Pam!!!
This is just beautiful truth, Lynn. Journaling has always been a way to God’s heart for me. I’m like you in that, often, until I write it down, I can’t fully express the depth of emotion. I especially love that last point, though–made a little catch in my throat when I read it. Yes, God signs his love letters in indelible ink. Soli Deo Gloria.
Oh Laura! Soli Deo Gloria, indeed. It is a stunning picture, isn’t it, to think of how God signs his letters to us–the ink of His own Son’s precious blood. When we think of this, I believe it both staggers us and encourages us to write back to Him–to take the time, knowing what it cost Him to make this privilege possible. I love that you journal, and given all that you write (and its beauty), it doesn’t surprise me. I so appreciate your stopping by to read!
Laura I would add off topic a bit….that I love how Johann Sebastian Bach signed all his scores: SDG (Soli Deo Gloria). I did that on my book. But I recently learned that at the beginning of each score he wrote JJ, which means Jesu Juva or Jesus, help or Jesus, help me. I thnk I need to employ this pleas as well.
Thank you for this reminder to send love letters to God. Usually I whine, cry and complain, so this is a wonderful idea to try like the praise Psalms. (I have gotten answers and have been heard when I’ve done that. It has been a healing practice. But I hate to admit this is a new idea to me…to write a love letter to God…
Oh, yes, Katie…the psalms are such beautiful praises to God, aren’t they? I think that King David gives us wonderful models for prayer. That said, do notice that many of his psalms were laments and cries of anguish. He even uses the word “complaint” often. And imprecatory psalms are downright angry. Notice my words here: “a heart in all its honesty, beauty, passion, and brokenness; a heart pulsing with love, joy, sadness, delight, doubt, pain, anguish, even anger. True love expresses all emotions, and true love—God’s true love for you—accepts them.” So for me, a love letter is being anything to God–absolutely anythng. But you are also right that if we can always praise (even through our despair), it is a very healing kind of prayer indeed. May God bless you as you write your love letters to Him (in whatever form they may take).
No one appreciates journaling until the start – no one sees the spiritual value until the are consistent. You are a good teacher.
Chris, you are so right. One of the hugest benefits of journaling really isn’t evident until later. In fact, just this morning I was reading a journal I’d written in 2013, and the insights I gleaned in “harvesting” it are invaluable. Can you imagine what I, what you will learn when we take a peek back into our lives 20 or 30 years ago? It’s amazing to have this kind of personal record of God’s work in our lives. I wish you many years of joyful journaling!