Keeping a Prayer Journal
Recently a hubber posed a question in a forum about the value of saving old journals from your past. I thought I'd write a hub about it. I have always kept prayer journals. I have prayer journals stored in my closet from as far back as 1974. I journaled sporadically over the years but treasure the prayers and memories of what God has brought me through and all the times He has blessed me. They are a monument, an altar, if you will, and a testimony of God's powerful work in my life.
Journal in a way that feels natural
My prayer journals are not just lists and brief little prayers like "Dear Lord, we need money for our house payment," followed by "Mortgage payment paid, praise the Lord, such and such date." I write them conversationally, just as most people journal to themselves or "Dear Diary." I do this because I communicate best in writing and I just can't seem to help myself. We should journal in a way that feels natural to us.
In some seasons I would write down a Scripture that had spoken to me and then proceeded to tell God what it meant to me, what I saw Him doing in my life in light of that Scripture. Most of my journaling was free writing. Sometimes I would be talking away to the Lord and the Holy Spirit would bring a verse to mind and God would begin to speak to me and through me as I wrote. He would give me little epiphanies, ah ha moments.
I have pages and pages of crying out to the Lord of my pain,frustrations, fears and confusion. I have pages and pages of praise and adoration to the Lord for just being who He is, and for answering my prayers.
I think I have always been drawn to journal to the Lord because most of the time, talking to myself does not have many benefits. Going before the Lord, I know someone, God, is listening with undivided attention. Don't you sometimes feel the need to bare your soul to someone who cares but it's too private to share with anyone? That's why I journal; I want someone to listen and keep my secrets.
The benefits of prayer journaling
To be brief, most any kind of prayer has benefits. But to elaborate, here are some ways I have benefited from writing my prayers.
- I am able to focus better when I write out my prayers, and am far less vulnerable to distractions and sleepiness.
- I don't get bored. When I am writing my prayers conversationally, I am stimulated and enjoying myself because I am praying in a way that is easiest for me and about things that are most dear to my heart.
- I forget about time. I don't feel that pressure of "Oh, only five minutes have gone by? I should be praying a lot longer." God does not use a stopwatch of course, no matter what method we use to pray, and we shouldn't pressure ourselves with guilt-ridden efforts of praying long. That being said, time flies when I am writing away. Sometimes however, I only journal a paragraph and feel I have said enough in that moment in time.
- It doesn't feel like a duty. I enjoy communicating through the written word so it is a full pleasure for me to write. I may skip days or weeks, or write every day. When I don't write, it is in those times that I choose to talk to God using my voice.
- My thoughts come together more clearly when I write. Perhaps part of this is because of the "less distracted" issue, but as a writer my thoughts have always been communicated better on paper, not just to my audience (which in this case is God), but also to myself.
- I don't have to edit. Journaling is writing exercise where I don't have to edit what I say, how I say it, or worry about spelling and grammar. And of course we never have to edit our prayers no matter how we pray. God knows what we're going to say before we even say it. And if we do say something to God we regret, we ask for forgiveness and move on.
- I feel completely satisfied (almost always) that I have communicated everything I wanted to say.
- I hear God speak to me better when I write, with the exception of when I read God's Word.
The blessings of reading past journals
For some people reading old journals may be painful if the issues that caused them pain have not been resolved, and if they were not directed toward God. I enjoy going back and looking through my journals for numerous reasons.
First of all, I can look back and see how far I have grown since the days long ago. This always amazes me. It gives me great hope that I will continue to grow in the love and knowledge of God.
Secondly, I can see how God answered all those prayers. It gives me hope, also, to know that nothing lasts forever in regards to hard times. I will read an entry where I was crying out to God about something that was filling me with pain and fear and remember how it felt like the situation would last forever, or never have a good outcome. Nothing of course did last forever, and some of the prayers were not answered in the way I had hoped or thought they would, but I realize that I am at peace about it.
Another blessing of looking back is to re-experience of joyful moments in my life. My oldest son just gave his heart to the Lord at Easter this year and I found the journal entries of the day of his birth, and through the first few days afterward, and sent them to him. I also found a poem the Lord had impressed me to write about him during his school years. It was a time of joyful reflection for both of us.
One last thing, and it may not necessarily sound so good, but I can see where I was in a dark place with a bad attitude, sense of defeat, or utter despair, and be thankful I am no longer there. And, I learn from reading it what was wrong with my thinking, attitude, and behavior.
In the end, I can say, like Jeremiah in Lamentaions 3:21-24, Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Psalms are blessed example of a prayer journal.
The book of Psalms is a beautiful example of prayer journaling. I so appreciate that David and the few other Psalm writers were able to put down all their angst and joy, and everything in between, so that the world for generations to come could read and meditate on them and say, "Yes Lord, amen to that. That is just how I feel."
What a gift and a testimony the Psalms are to anyone who will read them. God ordained these beautiful song/prayers so that we might find hope and know Him better. How wonderful of Him and the writers to allow us to hear their hearts of anxiety and praise.
Would keeping a prayer journal something you would like to do?
Choose your own form of prayer journal
Why not begin a prayer journal of your own? I guarantee God will bless you. There are so many different types of prayer journals to be found if you prefer a little inspiration and guidance. There are journals with a scripture to meditate on and space to respond; there are topical journals, such as a gratitude prayer journal; there are journals in which an author gives you reading and writing exercises. There is nothing wrong, either, with grabbing a little school notebook and writing whatever you want. If you are a list person, go for it. If you like to write brief little prayers or write down prayer requests with a record of answers, that's great. Do what feels right to you. Now may God bless you as you pray in word, song, or pen.
"Beautiful words stir my heart.
I will recite a lovely poem about the king,
for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet" (Psalm 45:1).
More hubs on the Psalms and prayer
- Psalm 139: God's Intimate Knowledge Of Us
Did you know God put you together in your mothers womb? Did you know He will be with you wherever you go?
- Secret Faults, Presumptuous Sins
David recognized his tendency toward pride and arrogance, as well as his hidden faults. The result was his humble repentance.