Why you should start a prayer journal
Struggle to pray? This might help.
Do you find prayer difficult? I sometimes do. Sometimes prayer feels like talking into space, and it can be hard to feel like God is actually there, listening.
But the Bible tells us he is. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
If you struggle to feel like God is listening, or question whether your prayers are actually working, you might find it helpful to start a prayer journal.
What’s a prayer journal?
A prayer journal is a notebook where you write down the things that you are praying for. Some people just write down dot points. Others write out prayers in full. Whatever way you choose to use it, the important thing is to keep a record of the things you are praying for.
Why is it helpful?
There are a few reasons why a prayer journal is a helpful tool for Christians who struggle with prayer.
Firstly, it helps you to concentrate. Rather than sitting in silence, trying to keep still and focused on what you’re saying, you can write down what you’re thinking. This will help your mind to stay on your prayers, and not wander to what you might eat for lunch or whether you remembered to iron your school uniform!
Secondly, a prayer journal will help you keep track of how God is answering your prayers. I don’t know about you, but often if I pray for something, a week later I’ve forgotten about that thing! Using a prayer journal ensures that you won’t forget, and you’ll be able to see when God answers your prayers. This can be really encouraging for those who struggle to pray because it feels like God isn’t listening.
Thirdly, a prayer journal can assist you in remembering to pray for others. How many times have you told a friend you’d pray for them, and prayed once but then forgotten? With a prayer journal, this won’t happen. Instead you write down the prayer points for your friend and then continue to pray for them each day.
Fourthly, a prayer journal can help enrich your Bible reading, too. If you write in your journal after doing your Bible reading, you can write down things from the passage that encouraged you and you want to thank God for, or things that challenged you that you need God’s help with.
Fifthly, using a prayer journal may help you get into a habit of regular prayer. The journal itself will act as a visual reminder to pray, while writing in it may be more likely to form part of your daily routine than sitting on your bed praying will.
How to get started
Firstly, find a notebook you like. I recommend using a good old-fashioned paper and pen prayer journal, because though apps can be useful for reminding you of prayers, it’s very easy to switch to another app or to be distracted by a notification. Plus, with a notebook you can design your own system.
Secondly, decide what you’re going to write. Full prayers, or dot points? Whatever you pick, make sure the prayer journal is helping you to focus on God, not distracting you from him. You may find that you’re tempted to try and make your journal pretty or perfect, but try and avoid this temptation, and focus on recording your prayers as you pray them, not on making the journal aesthetically pleasing.
Now it’s just a matter of integrating prayer journalling into your routine. As written above, you may find it particularly helpful to pair prayer journalling with Bible reading. But alternatively you might like to do it on the bus, just before sleep or first thing when you wake up. Whatever you do, do it regularly!
How do you focus on praying?
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