How prayer journals help me focus
Many of us find praying hard, but writing down your thoughts can help!
When you pray in your head, do you find yourself dozing off? Are your thoughts wandering to everywhere but God? Do you feel like you aren't connecting with God the way you should be? I do. That’s why I started a prayer journal. I get so distracted. I think a few lines of the prayer, and 20 minutes later I realized that I totally stood Jesus up. I came across this verse when I was doing a bible study:
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” —Colossians 4:2
I realized my prayers were nowhere close to alert, so I decided looking for alternative ways to pray. I found prayer journaling best fit my personality.
Why use a prayer journal?
You should try prayer journaling if:
- You’re consistent in what you do.
- You’re thoughts wander easily.
- You like writing.
- You’re looking to try new ways to connect with God.
For prayer journaling, you could either write or type your prayers. I prefer writing because if I pulled out my laptop to journal, I'd be even more distracted. . . What can I say, I’m a true millennial :)
I like to find an area with no distraction. Somewhere I can be alone without my laptop or my phone. I normally sit on my porch steps at 5am. No one is awake; no one can bother me.
Three benefits of prayer journaling
1. Writing is a healthy activity that helps channel your emotions
Sometimes, if I’m really angry with someone, I write about it and ask God to help me control my anger and to help me talk to that person with a calm mind and heart. When I’m done, I automatically feel better. It’s better to rid yourself of anger using a journal than confronting that person rashly and saying things you will regret.
“Stop being angry! Turn From your rage! Do not lose your temper–it only leads to harm.” —Psalms 37:8
“Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you're still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” —Ephesians 4:26-27
2. Writing helps organize your thoughts
When I pray in my mind, my brain scrambles, but when I write out my prayers, I force myself to really focus on what I’m praying about.
3. You can look back at your prayers
Every month or so, I read through all of my prayer journal entries. When I do this, I can see how God has been working in my life. I like to highlight the prayers he’s answered and thank him for it in a new entry.
How I use my prayer journal
You don't need a special book or anything, just a notebook or something similar is enough to get started. You can write all your prayers out, or just make a few notes as you are praying. Here's how I do it...
1. I begin by writing. I normally write in letter form with the date in the corner and the greeting as “Dear Father” or “Dear God.” I first thank God for everything he has done for me or provided for me no matter how small.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” —Thessalonians 5:18
2. I confess my sins. Don’t forget to pray for sins you haven’t even realized you committed. Sometimes I get a little emotional during this part. It’s normal to feel like ashamed about your sins, but just remember that our Father forgives!
“Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” —Psalms 32:5
3. I pray for other people. Some people post prayer requests on Facebook or Tumblr, so I pray for them even if I don’t know them well. I think about friends or family who are going through trials in their life and I pray for them.
“Pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” —James 5:16
4. I pray for myself. I ask God to help me with whatever struggles I’m currently going through. I ask that he’ll guide me through certain situations.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” -Matthew 7:7