We recently discussed twelve practical ways to improve our prayer lives. Keeping a prayer journal was the last one mentioned. Today, I want to dive into this discipline a little deeper. I have found that keeping a prayer journal has enriched my walk with God in several ways, and has actually become a tool to help me improve my dedicated time with the Lord. Here are some basic thoughts about prayer journaling and five reasons I think it's a good habit to form.
First of all, it's very important to mention that there are many ways to keep a prayer journal, and all of them are valid. They include but are not limited to using a plain notebook, creating your own journal with printables, using apps on your phone or tablet, or journaling on the computer. The method you choose to use as you document your prayers really depends on your personality and I suggest trying a couple of ways to see what seems to work the best for you. Regardless of how you do it, however, these are some arguments as to why you may want to give it a try.
Feel free to listen on the go.
1. A Prayer Journal keeps you focused
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that I'm easily distracted. And I can't always blame my kids or circumstances. Sometimes the distractions are of my own making as I look beyond my time alone with God to all that my schedule holds for the day. Journaling, in general, helps me to avoid these distractions by keeping me focused. When I'm writing and praying, I'm less likely to notice the squirrel out the window.
2. A Prayer Journal slows you down
Along these same lines, when we rush through our prayer time, we rarely stop to hear back from God. If we are writing out our prayers or scripture it requires that we take a little more time. It is amazing to feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit as you are writing out scripture or prayers. It draws us closer to Him and enriches our time with Him. Does it take longer than quickly running through our list? Absolutely. And honestly, it's not always feasible. I'm a realist and I recognize this. But in those moments when we have carved out precious time to spend with the Creator of the Universe, using some of that time writing our praise and petitions to Him may just give Him more of an opportunity to speak to us.
3. A Prayer Journal keeps you organized
Remember those lists we have discussed? A prayer journal gives you a place to keep them. And when we use those prompts, they help prevent us from missing prayers. My memory is not what it used to be and I have to write needs down to be sure I actually remember them. I do not ever want to tell someone I am praying for them and forget to do so. My prayer journal helps me stay organized.
4. A Prayer Journal keeps you accountable
If I commit to writing in my journal every day, I'm more likely to spend this time before the Lord. Now, this process is not meant to be condemning or legalistic in any way. Remember, prayer is so much more than the specific time we are talking about here, but it is still a good way to keep you consistent. If you miss several days or even weeks of earnest prayer before the King of Kings (as I have done before), don't let yourself be discouraged. Let it be a sweet reminder of the command we have been given to commune with our Creator. And let the Holy Spirit stir our hearts as we get back to Him.
5. A Prayer Journal is encouraging
What a blessing to look back and see when you cried out to your Father God and He answered your prayer. Write these answers down, even if they are not the answers you wanted. Let the Lord soothe your wounds, heal your heart and encourage your soul. Be like the writer of Psalm 77 and recall his mighty works in your life and in the lives of His people. We write our prayers as an expression of worship. We do it to glorify God, but in the process, we become more satisfied.
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Join my Prayer Journal Workshop which includes a full Prayer Journal Kit. It's a complete workshop with printables and instructions on how to create your own Prayer Journal. It's just one way to do this, but I hope you will find it useful.
Let me end with this beautiful quote from Charles Spurgeon concerning Prayer. I desire to go after God with this kind of intensity as I pray. I am weak and I'm honestly not very good at it. But I know my God is with me always and will help me each day in this ambition.
“O Lord, in prayer I launch far out into the eternal world, and on that broad ocean my soul triumphs over all evils on the shores of mortality. Time, with its gay amusements and cruel disappointments, never appears so inconsiderate as then.
In prayer I see myself as nothing; I find my heart going after You with intensity, and long with vehement thirst to live to You. Blessed be the strong gales of the Spirit that speed me on my way to the New Jerusalem.
In prayer, all things here below vanish, and nothing seems important but the holiness of heart and the salvation of others.
In prayer, all my worldly cares, fears, anxieties disappear and are of as little significance as a puff of wind.
In prayer, my soul inwardly exults with lively thoughts at what You are doing for Your church, and I long that You should get Yourself a great name from sinners returning to Zion.
In prayer I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life, and taste heavenly joys; entering into the eternal world I can give myself to You with all my heart, to be Yours forever.
In prayer I can place all my concerns in Your hands, to be entirely at Your disposal, having no will or interest of my own.
In prayer, I can intercede for my friends, ministers, sinners, the church, Your kingdom to come, with greatest freedom, ardent hopes, as a son to his father, as a lover to the beloved.
Help me to be all prayer and never to cease praying.”