I haven’t always kept a prayer journal.
In fact, this is a recent (like within the last year, recent) spiritual discipline I’ve determined to be more diligent about.
I will share how He changed me through this discipline at the end.
See, I used to only pray when I felt like it.
- When I needed or wanted something.
- When I was broken, hurting, or lost.
- When a friend or loved one needed me to bring something to God.
- When there was a need, a hurt, an illness that only God could address. Heal. Make right.
I didn’t want to write any of it down. Ever.
Not because I didn’t think to or because I was unaware of the benefits of this discipline. But because I. Didn’t. Want. To.
My excuse? It took too much time.
I also convinced myself I didn’t need more journals around my office. Another book to write in. But I knew I wasn’t being honest with myself. To be completely real with you, I would have rather lied to myself than expose myself to vulnerability. I was afraid to write down some of the deep, hidden things in my heart. The things I didn’t want anyone else to see. Things I didn’t want to take ownership of.
I mean, what if my journal got into the wrong hands?
What if someone stumbled across my secrets?
What if they shared those secrets?
What if they thought differently of me because of the things hiding in my heart?
But God changed my mind. My heart. And my perspective.
- He helped me see I was ME focused, not Him focused.
- He reminded me this journal was about His work in ME and the growth of my faith, nothing more.
- And even if it did fall in the wrong hands, what’s the worst that can happen?
- He is bigger than “that.”
Like your Bible study journal, you have to find a method that works for you. I chose to use a spiral bound lined journal because I felt confined to the small spaces most “official” prayer journals offer. And I like space to process, wrestle, pour out.
I know many who LOVE their prayer journal, and I love that they love it. But after trying several different ones, this is my favorite method.
Unlike my Bible study journal, I won’t give you an actual page from my journal because
- Many of the prayers in my journal are from others and I want to protect their privacy
- Many of my prayers are between the Lord Jesus and me
But I will illustrate how I keep my journal by sharing a specific prayer of mine and how God continues to answer it in stages.
My prayer journal is really simple.
Like my Bible study journal.
Nothing profound, extravagant or earth-shattering here.
Just me and my prayers, worries, concerns, dreams, questions, wrestlings, and musings.
There are only 3 components to my journal.
1) I write the date
- I do the month/day/year.
- I don’t add the day of the week. No particular reason, I just don’t.
2) I look back at past requests
- Makes notes of any updates or answers
- When I get an answer/update to a prayer I go back to the original request
- Highlight it
- Write the date of the answer beside it
- Then go to the fresh page and write out the update
- Review what to continue to pray for
- Write 1-5 word reminders
3) List out the prayer requests of the day
- Maybe a few words
- Maybe a couple of sentences or a short paragraph
- Maybe bullet points of highlights that I know about
- Sometimes I copy texts or emails
- Sometimes there’s a more in-depth explanation as I wrestle with something or need to process and pour out in ink on the paper
Today I signed up for the second Northwestern Christian Writer’s Conference on July 13-14, 2018. I also signed up for the Jump Start Program with Liz Curtis Higgs!!!! Oh, I can’t wait to meet her. I’m really excited and nervous all at the same time. Lord, help me figure out who to choose for my 1-2-1 meeting. Help me know how to prepare. I know more now that I did before. Prepare me, my heart for this Conference. Guide my footsteps.
Lord, thank you for how you’ve guided my effort so far and shown me how to prepare for the conference. Today I signed up to meet with Wendy Lawton, VP of Book and Such Literary Agency, for my 1-2-1. I’m her first meeting of the day. Lord, this is my dream agency. Please guide our conversation. Help me prepare to talk with her. Bless our time together. I’m leaving this in Your hands. Prepare both of us for what you have planned.
I am not going to get the chapters done that I want to. That I planned to. This is causing stress and anxiety. I’m disappointed and frustrated. Please help me let this go and get done what is really important. I know I need to get my book proposal together. Oh LORD HELP ME!!! This is a daunting task. I am not sure how to do this! I have my books, videos. But I feel inadequate with this. Guide me. I’ve started it, but it needs to be completely rewritten. Help me do it right this time.
We leave for vacation tomorrow. I still have a lot of work to do on this proposal. Help me finish it but also balance time with the family. Help me be prepared for the following weekend. The conference. My nerves and anxiety are ratcheting up. Give me Your peace and clarity. Help me see and correct my mistakes. Give me the right words. Your words. JESUS, HELP ME BE READY! I am feeling really really stressed.
I’ve done all I can do. I need to let this proposal rest. Lord, I hand it over to you. Please bless it. Let Your peace flood my soul as I prepare for this weekend.
The conference was amazing!
God did more than I could have ever imagined. Read about how He answered ALL my prayers in this blog post, Northwestern Christian Writers Conference 2018: Confession. Repentance. Restoration. Blessing.
This of course sent a flurry of new prayers, including sending my proposal to Kathleen Kerr at Harvest House Publishers and waiting for the response. Read about that here, Waiting Well–When the Answer Comes.
Now I have a whole new crop of prayers I’m tending until harvest…
- Praying for the members of our Tribe (Tribe = subscribers to this website/blog)
- Writing a FREE Bible Study for our Tribe
- Growing our Tribe exponentially and in a God-honoring way
- Opportunities to speak
- To refine and mature my writing while keeping the content honest, real, open,
- vulnerable and valuable
- I would grow closer to God in order to encourage others to also grow closer to Him
Here’s the thing, your prayer journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just authentic. Real. Honest. Open. Vulnerable.
Now I promised I would share how God changed my mind, heart, and perspective from keeping a prayer journal.
When I flip through my journal and see the highlighted dates with “update-dates” beside them, my faith grows. My excitement grows. My sense of awe and wonder explodes. Because each update is God answering the prayers of my heart. My own insignificant heart. Well, in my eyes insignificant. To His eyes, each uttered prayer. Each request, each hope, each concern, each dream…is precious. Treasured. Held dear and worthy of His personal attention.
When I feel like God is silent, like I’m talking to the air, I open my journal and look back at each highlighted date. I see His activity in my life. The evidence of His answers to my prayers. The way He has guided and directed me. How He has protected me from myself so He can lead me to better things I never dreamed of. The times He has said NO because there is a better YES in the wings. The times He says to wait because if the timing isn’t right, everything we’ve worked for would fall in on itself. In short, I see His activity in my times in the wilderness.
When I look back at the answered prayers, I realize how important my prayers are to Him and me. How my faith has been refined. How my relationships with those around me improve, deepen, forming stronger bonds. What happens in their lives becomes important to me, and I invest in them in big and small ways. And as I watch God unfold their (and my) answers, move in their life, guide, change, and shape them—my faith explodes!
When I pray for those who are unkind or all-out cruel to me, I find my heart grows tender toward them rather than hard or resentful. God opens my eyes to the struggles that person is facing, the hurts they possess, and the brokenness they are trying to hide. Often, I see their harshness is not really against me but a reaction to their own pain. And then compassion takes over and I pray for them in a totally different way.
Now it’s your turn.
What is your next step in enhancing your prayer life?
What are you going to try? What is your next step? Are you going to try an official prayer journal or a notebook or blank journal?
Make a choice. Try something. If it doesn’t fit. That’s ok. Try something else. But don’t just sit there. Get moving. You will be so glad you did.
If you want to be one of the first to receive my devotional of “The Feeding of the 5000” subscribe to my blog. We will dig into all 4 Gospel accountings of this event and I will share how this passage became Vibrantly Relevant to me and changed my writing and ministry in ways I would never have dreamed.
My dear WordPress followers, I have no way for you to receive this if you don’t subscribe (no email), and I would love to share this with you–so please subscribe.
Share this post with your people via social media and/or email if it encouraged, blessed, or challenged you. On social media, tag someone who would benefit from this journey. Remember to “like” and comment as well. Your feedback is valuable to me as it helps me know if I’m serving you well and how to do it better.
I became an Amazon Affiliate to help offset to cost of this blog and my ministry. If you click on any of the Amazon links it will take you to that product in your Amazon account. I will earn a commission on any purchases you make at no additional cost to you (once you enter into Amazon through newsletters, blog posts, or Facebook). I appreciate your support.