This post is part of my Practicing Lent series where we will explore Spiritual Disciplines that connect us with Jesus in His Word. If you want to find out more about Spiritual Disciplines you can look here. If you have signed up for the Practicing Lent Facebook group, click here to share your experience with others. If you would like to participate in the group, click here to request to join.
Every morning I grab a cup of tea and sit in the comfy chair in my office. I settle in with my Bible for a quiet time with the Lord. I may spend the time working through a book of the Bible or completing the homework for my small group study. I have a small stack of memory verse cards that I review and a prayer list to guide my prayer time.
I love this time with the Lord, but can I be honest here? The thing I most struggle with is prayer. I’m so grateful that God hears my cries to Him. I feel so blessed that through Christ we have the privilege of approaching God in prayer.
But too often, I’m in the middle of interceding for a friend and a stray thought enters my brain asking, “What will you make for dinner tonight?” I berate myself for my lack of concentration and turn back to the prayer at hand, but the next minute my thoughts wander to the heaps of laundry that must be done or the long list of errands for the day.
Because I struggle with attention in prayer, I have found prayer journaling helpful. Putting pen to paper keeps my mind on talking to God instead of my grocery list. The physical act of writing focuses my thoughts.
Ways to Use a Prayer Journal
There are many ways to use a prayer journal. Here are a few ways that have been helpful for me:
- Recording an account of your prayer requests and God’s answers. Write down your request and the date you first prayed for that person or concern. When the prayer is answered, write down the date and a prayer of thanksgiving.
- Pouring out your heart to God. When I’ve been in a particularly difficult season, I have used the pages in my journal to ask God questions, to empty out my anger, or to vent my frustration. King David’s example in the Psalms shows me that God does not seem to mind this. He listens to His children and knows that after I have poured out my problems, I am more ready to receive His peace.
- Keeping a gratitude journal. For a season, I daily wrote down three things for which I was thankful. By intentionally seeing all that God had already given me, my whiny, discontented attitude was changed.
My Favorite Way to Journal My Prayers
But this is my favorite way to use my prayer journal:
- Respond to Scripture. By turning what I read in God’s Word into a prayer, my mind is focused and I am able to apply what I have read.
For instance, one day I read Matthew 22 and these words from the Parable of the Wedding Feast struck me:
Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business. Matthew 22:4-5
And I wrote this prayer:
Lord, forgive me when I have ignored Your invitation to spend time with You. When I have gone off to my business–not giving You the time You deserve. Thank You for providing a feast for those You love. You give us all Your richest blessings–too often I ignore them. Thank You for Your love and forgiveness.
You don’t need a formula for your prayers. Just let the Holy Spirit guide you.
But if you would like a starting point, here are some questions to direct your prayers:
- What in this passage inspires me to praise God?
- What does this passage prompt me to confess?
- How does the passage inspire me to pray for myself?
- How does it inspire me to pray for others?
- How does this passage spark thanksgiving?
- What does this passage teach me about God?
- How does this passage prompt me to pray over my everyday life and decisions?
Grab a journal or a spiral notebook. Or start a new file on your computer. Open up God’s Word and write out your prayers.
Next step: Find a place to journal your prayers: fancy journal, half-used spiral notebook, computer file. For the next 5 days journal your prayers. Click here to find inspiring Scriptures and prayer prompts.