- January 2, 2017
- Christian Living
Are you making a New Year’s resolution to improve your prayer life? No matter what time of year it is, the majority of Christians feel like their time devoted to prayer isn’t what it could be. In fact, only 16% of pastors are “very satisfied” with their prayer lives. Many believers feel that prayer journals are a secret weapon when it comes to spiritual warfare.
What are prayer journals? Do I just make a list on a piece of paper? Sure, that’s one way to do it. There are actually a large number of journals out there that cater to this activity. Here’s one example from the people at Lifeway that corresponds with the recent “War Room” film. You can go about having a prayer journal in just about any way that you like, but the main idea is to list prayer requests into groups and track how God answers them (or the progress of the request). Before we dive in too deep here, let’s list a few of the reasons why Christians may want to use prayer journals.
Setting Goals with Prayer Journals
In pretty much every aspect of life, setting goals is the surest way of measuring growth and success. Runners measure their progress by time and distance. Did I reach my PR (personal record) time for this 5k? How fast is my average mile? What time should I shoot for in this marathon? These are just a few of the ways that a runner might track their progress and establish goals.
The apostle Paul compared the Christian life to that of a runner so many of the lessons from that activity easily translate over. When it comes to your prayer life, goals can be a great way to track improvement. If you feel that you have been seriously lacking in your commitment to prayer, you might consider setting goals like praying for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or perhaps an hour or more non-stop. Unlike an athlete chasing acclaim or medals, however, setting goals in prayer are more about communicating with God and seeking Him first. We pray not so God can give us things or so that we can be looked upon with respect from our fellow churchgoers, but because the Bible shows us that prayer is vital to the Christian walk.
When we set goals with our prayer lives, we are laying the groundwork for a battle plan that helps us to overcome the temptation of sin and to answer the call that has been placed on our lives by the One who made us.
How do prayer journals help us in this journey? Let’s talk about that.
Organization = Efficiency
Have you ever had to cook a meal in someone else’s kitchen or work from another person’s station at your job? It can be hard to get things done sometimes because you don’t know the lay of the land. Everyone has their own way of doing things and that means organization can be very subjective.
Although organizing parts of your life can take on a variety of different methods, there’s no denying that doing so will increase your efficiency. Imagine how this could impact your prayer life if you had a journal that organized your many prayer requests and helped you make better use of your prayer time. It can be difficult to remember everything that is going on when you’re finishing up your morning devotional with a time of prayer. You may ask for general blessings like safety and a kind spirit, but prayer journals help you to remember more specific situations that you wanted to pray over like your niece’s surgery or the fundraising event at work.
There are so many different ways to organize a prayer journal, so you’ll just have to find what works best for you. Perhaps Monday could focus on your job, Tuesday is for praying for your national and local government, Wednesday is all about individual prayer requests you’ve seen on social media or at church, etc.
You can never pray too much, but we can certainly pray too little. Finding a way to improve this part of our Christian walk, like with prayer journals, is important to our overall growth.
One of the greatest blessings of using prayer journals is having the ability to revisit your prayer requests later on down the road. Life seems to go by at lightning speed at times, so it’s an unfortunate truth that we often forget the rough patches that God has helped us get through.
Prayer usually doesn’t work like we see it in the movies. Sometimes it takes decades of consistent prayer before we receive an answer and even then the response is not exactly what we expected it to be. Other times the answer comes over a series of events that may occur for a period of months or years. What better way to track this process than by keeping a journal that details your prayer life?
When we track our prayers and see how God has answered them, we are engaging in a faith-building exercise that will help us to see the impact that God has on our lives.
Now the point of this article is not to condemn anyone who doesn’t use prayer journals, but rather to encourage you to think of ways in which you can improve or update how you’ve been doing things. Maybe you’ll want to look into new Bible reading plans or reflect on how God has answered prayer in your own experience. As Christians, we should always clothe ourselves in humility and consider new ideas. Even if you don’t have money for an official prayer journal, taking the time to write out your prayer requests on notebook paper might be just as good.
If you’re a fan of up-and-coming trends in Christian circles, then you’ve probably heard about the K-LOVE Fan Awards. Each year, the biggest names in Christian music, movies, and more come together to create the ultimate fan experience. To find out how you and your family can be a part of the biggest weekend in Christian entertainment, click on the link below.