I want to be that woman⏤the one who swirls her colored pencils, creating a design befitting a beautiful prayer journal.
But I’m not.
Instead, I buy pencils and markers in an array of colors, along with hand-lettering books, to feel like the woman who does such things. Truth is, I buy a fetching three-ring binder from Target, a pack of College-ruled notebook paper, and new for 2019⏤a pack of LePens. (Hey, if I can’t create a design, I can at least write in fabulous colors.)
Years ago, I searched for crisply lined journals with lovely covers to write poetry, but creativity clutched my brain like a toddler to a mother’s leg, refusing to let loose. Don’t write a word on that gilded line until you have the perfect word. Needless to say, few poems made their way to the pages. But somewhere along the way, I started using plain ol’ notebooks to record my poetic thoughts. It’s a mental game, of course, teasing the brain that it’s okay to write away because it’s a throwaway notebook.
For me, it’s the same with prayer journals.
God isn’t expecting or seeking perfection in the words poured out onto the page. He’s not moved by the handwriting, but rather, the heart that is writing. When I use a three-ring binder stocked with loose-leaf paper and four tabs, I feel free to write, cross out words, jot down scripture references, and scribble sideways when necessary.
In the past, I’ve journaled prayers using My Prayer Partner Notebook by Becky Tirabassi, fancified journals with life-giving words on the cover, and five-subject notebooks. But one small important distinction between using journals/notebooks and three-ring binders/loose-leaf paper is the ability to add loose paper to specific sections, as needed.
Sections, you say. Why, yes.
On one sheet of loose-leaf paper, at the front of the binder, I create a cover page that lists specific needs I can pray over each day of the week.
- Sunday – our church, pastors
- Monday – our children, grandchildren, and family
- Tuesday – Hope*Writer and Facebook requests
- Wednesday – our small group
- Thursday – missions
- Friday – the lost
- Saturday – fellow writers and their work
After the cover page, I have tabs that vary in subject at times, but these are the standard four:
First Section :: Adoration
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name…” Psalm 29:2
I see this different from a time of praise. It’s a specific space to declare my awe and wonder of God — who He is, not what He does for me in specific situations. I read through a Psalm, choose one specific characteristic and write out the verse. Sometimes that’s the only thing written. When I allow myself to meditate on this truth of who God is, it becomes more about being (still) and less about doing.
Second Section :: Thanksgiving
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34
Because focusing on God’s characteristics can’t help but lead to a grateful heart, it’s here I write the ways I’m thankful for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It’s also the place I record the specific why behind the gratitude, helping to take it the gratefulness to a deeper, more personal level.
Third Section :: Search and Find
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23, 24 NIV
It’s here I pause and ask God to search my heart, confident there are sins and struggles I simply don’t see. I usually write them down, but sometimes I don’t, refusing to be legalistic about my time with God. The main point is to have a searchable heart that results in confession, cleansing, and sweet restoration.
Fourth Section :: Intercession
“Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open.” Ephesians 6:18 The Message
I like to divide this section into two: one for friends struggling with long-term issues like sickness, ongoing marriage or children issues. The other, for short-term requests. Pocket Prayers are also used for both when I’m in a pinch for time. Not sure what those are? I share more in the post How to Pocket Your Prayers.
- Date your entries. You’ll appreciate pinpointing the date of original prayers and praises in the future.
- I address entries to my heavenly Father. People have shared how this one point often trips them up in prayer journaling — not knowing how to direct their prayers on paper. Again, it’s not about the paper, but the heart.
- Leave ample space beside requests for praise and answers to prayer. Pray expectantly!
- Recording God’s answers to prayer will not only heighten appreciation, but it will also serve as a journal of God’s faithfulness for future generations.
- There may be times when you need to write something so personal that the thought of anyone reading it tempts you not to record it. Go ahead, write it⏤get it out⏤on a separate sheet of loose paper in your binder, pray through it, and then throw it away.
Oh my, how I’d love to say I journal every day, but I don’t. On those days I miss, I rest in knowing that my prayers⏤my connection with God⏤isn’t limited to ink that flows onto man-made pages. Our prayers go wherever we go.
Journaling is simply a tool to slow us down and focus, helping us to become more intentional about prayer in a world that wants us to be anything but.
So, how about you? Do you journal your prayers? If so, what type of book do you use? If not, is this something you will consider doing in 2019?
I’m loving my new LePens so much (thank you Amazon Lightning Deal) that I’d like to give away a three-pack in celebration of journaling our prayers in 2019. Simply answer the question above (or just pop in and say hello) to be entered in the giveaway. The winner will be randomly selected via miniwebtool.com on Saturday, January 5th.
Thank you for joining me on this *tiny* journey in 2018. Lord willing, this new year will see a completed Tiny House on the Hill, a small space that I pray will magnify our great God for years to come.
Blessings to you and yours in 2019!