The Prayer Journal
In the fall of 2016, I started a prayer journal. I had written prayers out before, but never in an organized, consistent way. Wanting some way to deepen my prayer life, I decided to try a prayer journal. So I found a pretty notebook, divided it into specific sections, and started using it to pray.
Why a Journal?
What is it that makes a prayer journal such a good idea? Is it just a passing fad to keep a prayer journal? I don’t think so. Or at least, I definitely hope not. Keeping a prayer journal is so much more than a quaint, old-fashioned way to approach your time with God in prayer. For me, keeping a prayer journal at that time of my life was one of the best things for my walk with God.
While I would not expect a prayer journal to represent the entirety of a believer’s prayer life, keeping a prayer journal could benefit a believer’s walk with God in three specific ways.
I don’t know about you, but my prayers tend to be all over the place. Halfway through praying for one thing, my mind will make a cosmic leap to a completely unrelated subject. Even when I made lists to pray through, I just couldn’t stay on track.
Writing out my prayers solved this sporadic movement by helping me to connect my thoughts and ideas. I was able to concentrate on the area that I was praying about. While I wouldn’t have the time in a day to pray for all the things I probably should be praying for, writing my prayers helped to remove some of the distractions that stole my focus.
When I first started a prayer journal, I began by dividing it into five specific sections: Promises, Praise, Repent, Ask, and Yield. I used the first section to write out Scripture verses that I wanted to be able to return to and meditate on. Sometimes I would write out a list of verses or references on a particular topic. The other sections are straightforward: I focused on praising and thanking God in Praise, confessing my sins in Repent, making specific requests in Ask, and handing over my will and desires in Yield.
While I didn’t keep a schedule for when I would write prayers out in any particular section, I did find that over time I was running out of room in Praise and Ask, while Repent and Yield had seen much less traffic. Through keeping a somewhat organized journal, I was able to see the areas that I tended to skip in my prayer life. Though I spent most of my time in prayer praising God and asking Him for things, I was much less likely to humbly confess my sins daily or submit my will to God’s will during prayer. Once I realized my tendencies, I was able to be more intentional in going to those sections of the journal when I needed to.
I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t kept a consistent prayer journal like the one I’m describing for a couple years now. Even though I’ve had various notebooks be dedicated to written prayers at different times over the last couple years, none of them have been as deliberate as this one was.
But the beautiful thing is, I still have all those prayers from that time. I can still pull out that journal, read through my prayers, and be reminded of God’s work in my life then. I can walk through the joys and the sorrows, the heartaches and the milestones. I can see God’s hand in my life, and I can trace the overarching theme of God drawing me closer to Himself through time with Him in prayer.
Admittedly, keeping a prayer journal may not be for everyone. Some people struggle to communicate their ideas through writing. Others may just dislike writing. But for some of you, perhaps keeping a prayer journal would be just what you need to provide focus, intentionality, and longevity in your prayers.
And of course, there are many ways to pray. One method isn’t better than another; the ultimate goal is simply to pray. Whether or not you use a prayer journal in the process, do make prayer a priority in your life. I know that this is a struggle for many Christians, as it has been and still is for me, but realize that in many ways, your closeness (or lack of closeness) to God mirrors your prayer life.
So whether we use a journal or not, let’s be praying Christians. Let’s be Christians who walk closely with our God.