Keeping a Prayer Journal
Most people know what you mean when you ask ‘do you keep a diary?’ However, ask about a prayer journal and you may get a blank stare, or many different answers.
Here we ask a member of our church family to share their thoughts on their experience of keeping a prayer journal, which we hope you find helpful and encouraging.
1) What prompted you to start keeping a prayer journal?
A few years ago, I was a member of a home group and we did a study all about prayer. The group leader could see that prayer was different for different people. Some found it easy, some didn’t; some were comfortable praying aloud in groups and for others it was a personal and private activity. What to pray for, how to pray, when to pray and for how long, what to expect as a result of prayer – there were so many questions and as many different answers. Some people had many examples of answered prayer, others struggled to recall any.
As part of the prayer study, we were all encouraged to keep a prayer diary. It was just a blank notebook. Nothing fancy. No-one saw anyone else’s (it was just you and Him) and writing in it didn’t have a prescribed format. My first entries were quite general prayers…. For me, a prayer of thanksgiving broke the ice. After a while I started a new page each month of ‘Special prayers for special people’. I started to note down things which people asked me to pray for and things that were on my heart and mind. Each month, the list grew and it helped me not to forget anyone. I didn’t write in it every day – it isn’t a record of my prayers – rather, it informed my daily prayers. Some prayers were carried over from month to month – the big issues.
2) How long have you been keeping a prayer journal for?
I kept the diary for a couple of years. It didn’t take long before a quick read back over previous months’ entries showed me how often a prayer is answered. And frequently, not in the way in which I’d asked, but in another way – God’s way. The answer to other prayers evolved slowly – clearly not in my timing. My monthly prayer lists were interspersed with odd pages of bible verses which were meaningful to me – often written in colours and accompanied with thoughts and doodles.
3) What do you get out of doing it?
It’s a really joyful book to look back on and shows me that God does hear, He understands, He won’t give me everything – but I do need to pray more expectantly; I need to worry less; answers to prayer will be in His time and His way – but He will listen and provide comfort during the wait. He’s also pretty good if I just want to vent.
4) What would you say to someone who’s starting a prayer journal?
That it’s really worthwhile – everyone in my home group felt so. Some kept them going longer than others; some based their prayers on a daily bible reading and others wrote a daily account of their prayer life. The freestyle approach worked better for me but I think that was all down to ages and stages of life. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you come to realise the power of prayer.
Getting Started: More Information about Prayer Journaling
Thy Kingdom Come: A selection of Prayer Journals
Ignatian Spirituality: The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us.
Compassion UK: Prayer journal ideas and templates.
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