A blank sheet of paper is not necessarily a friendly sight when it is Friday afternoon and you are trying to write your blog post, but it can be a wonderful prayer tool. Prayer journaling can add focus, depth, and an appreciation of the power of God to your practice of prayer.
Here some ideas for beginning or expanding your prayer journal:
• Use that blank sheet of paper to clear your mind. If you find it difficult to concentrate in prayer, if thoughts of things to do or random pieces of daily life intrude, stop and write them down. Then set them aside and promise yourself you will come back to them when you are through praying.
• Write out a psalm of praise to begin your prayer time. Good psalms for this: Psalm 9, 27, 34, 40, 84, 92, 103, 111, 135, 139, 146, 149, 150 and many others. As you write, really concentrate on the praises the psalmist wrote. When you reach the end, write your own psalm of praise!
• Write a letter to God. Use the rules for letter writing you learned in school: begin with a greeting, naming God. Next, an opening paragraph telling God about you and your relationship to him. Then, the body of the letter. Pour out your heart to God, who wants to hear all you have to say. Close your letter with whatever requests for action you have. Sign off in a way appropriate for communication with the creator of the universe – praise!
• Don’t limit your prayer journal to just one kind of writing. Don’t have a lot of rules about what goes into your prayer journal. Let the Holy Spirit lead you in your writing. Some days it may be a letter, some days a simple list of requests, some days just psalms and words of praise and on other days it might be examination of a portion of scripture and what it means to you. It might even be pictures you draw or doodles!
• Periodically go back and review your journal. Do you see a pattern in your journaling? Is there an issue or issue that always seems to come up? Have you made progress in working on that issue with God, or do you need some help to work it out? What answers do you see to your prayers? Add those to your list of praises!
There is only one real hard and fast rule in prayer journaling, and it is the same as in any prayer: focus your journal, and all your prayer on God. Unlike a diary, a prayer journal is not about you. It is about the relationship between you and God.
If you haven’t ever tried prayer journaling, or if you journal regularly, let us know about your experience with prayer journals. You can leave your comments here. Would you be interested in a workshop or class that included prayer journaling?