- October 21, 2019
- Christian Living
As Christians, we want to do whatever we can to improve our relationships with the Lord and grow into a more mature faith. One of the best ways you can do this is through prayer. The bad news, however, is that most of us aren’t enjoying the kind of prayer life we wished we had. Whether our days are too busy or we feel we just aren’t any good at communicating through prayer, it is unfortunately a tenet of Christianity we often let slip by the wayside. If you feel discouraged by your prayer life, we suggest you try to start a prayer journal. Don’t know how to keep a prayer journal? Let us help you figure it out. Before we tackle how to keep a prayer journal, though, let’s explain what one is.
What’s the Point of a Prayer Journal?
Journaling is a hobby that has died down for many these days. Along with sending written correspondence through the mail, the number of people who consistently keep a diary of what is going on in their lives has shrunk in our modern age. A better way to explain its demise is by reminding you that social media has, at least in part, replaced our need for documenting life. Instead of going through our day in paragraphs, we send tweets and share status updates. For those who still do things the old way, however, there are many benefits. Here are a few good reasons why prayer journals are a good idea and then later on we’ll discuss how to keep a prayer journal.
Do you have trouble staying organized? Your cubicle, the kitchen counter, it’s all so difficult to keep perfectly straight. Sometimes when we pray it can be difficult to remember which needs we are meant to be bringing before God. Sure, you know to pray for your own basic needs, but beyond that it can be hard to keep up with whose father is dealing with cancer or which church member is looking for a job. Prayer journals allow you to keep everything organized so that when you have time to pray, you won’t forget what’s important.
Getting Specific with Prayer
If you’re experiencing a lackluster prayer life, part of the problem may be that your requests before God are not being specific enough. Are we saying God isn’t smart enough to figure out what you need? No, but being exact about different situations will help you open up to your Heavenly Father about what’s really bothering you. Instead of praying for your jobless friend to find work, you could be praying that he would find something in his field that pays enough to take care of his family and has proper hours so that he can be part of daily family activities. It may not seem like that great of a change, but this level of honesty with God will help you open up with Him about your worries and the problems of your own life. Being specific also allows you to better measure the success of your prayers (we’ll write more on this later).
Going in with a Game Plan
Prayer journals also give us the opportunity to go before God with a game plan in mind. Too often we mindlessly wander through daily prayer. We take care of our basic requests and perhaps recall a friend or two dealing with a tough situation. What kind of strategy is that? God certainly enjoys hearing from us, but this is pretty close to the bare minimum we can do. There is a whole world out there full of need and spiritually dying due to a separation from God. Using your prayer journal you can systematically cover government officials, local issues, church events, and hurting communities in prayer. Some of these may be harder than others to pray for specifically (see previous point), but the goal is to think beyond the basic and prayer journals can be a great way to accomplish this.
Celebrating the Goodness of God
How good of a conversationalist are you? Imagine asking your friend about a serious situation in her life and then not sticking around to hear the answer. We sometimes treat prayer like a one-way conversation. While hearing an audible voice from God may not be a common occurrence, one response we often get to our prayers is through some kind of action. With prayer journals you can keep track of developments and celebrate when God answers by providing for a specific need.
How to Keep a Prayer Journal
Now that we better understand the need for one, let’s break down how to keep a prayer journal. Most people have their own way of tracking prayer, but there are a few key details to help you best complete the task.
Come Up with Your System
The first step for keeping a prayer journal is to figure out how you’re going to classify and organize things. Many people like to split each page of the journal into two vertical columns, one for requests and the other for answers to those prayers. Another idea is to keep track of the dates in which requests first popped up, when new details emerged, and when the situation reached a total climax. You can put things on the page however you like, just make it clean and easy to understand when/if you revisit the page.
Write Down Each Situation and for What You Are Asking
Of course, if you’re going to be keeping up with your prayer requests, you’ll need to write them down one by one. For situations that are extremely delicate, perhaps you should list just enough information so that you can recall what’s going on. Prayer journals aren’t designed for gossip, but you may opt for some level of discretion just in case the journal comes to be found by those whom you wish not to see it. This book or file is for you, so no one else really needs full disclosure.
If you want to know how to keep a prayer journal right, be someone who prays consistently. You don’t have to go through every request written in your book every day, but some regular format should be followed. Without prayer, these might as well be messages in a bottle you leave out in the ocean. Try to give an honest effort to bring these requests before God as often as you can, not because there is a box you need to check off, but because it shows you mean business.
Track the Ways in Which God Responds to Prayer
The fun part of keeping a prayer journal is when you get to see how God answers your prayers. From the small, everyday requests to massively life-changing issues, documenting how God has provided for you will encourage you to fully buy in on prayer and strengthen your relationship with the Lord. Just like with your requests, we also recommend you write the date of when your prayer was answered. Doing this will help you celebrate the work God has done in your life.
Now that you know how to keep a prayer journal and why, it’s time for you to get started. Think about how you’d like to get things going. Do you want a nice leather bound journal or would you prefer a big binder with room to grow and organize over the years? You’ll find this is one DIY project all Christians can enjoy.
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