Writing a diary or a journal is a habit that many people have. Journals can be used for different reasons: to record special events like a vacation, to work through the complicated emotions of difficult times, or to write letters to a future spouse. Keeping a prayer journal is a tool that you can use in your personal prayer life and faith walk. It is a way to be reminded of God’s faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23, Romans 4:21)
Here are a few suggestions to get started!
1) Recognize that new habits take time to build
Much like teaching your children how to pray, starting a new habit of your own requires discipline, perseverance, and commitment. And there’s no better time to start a new habit than a new year. (Think about the last time you promised that you would stop drinking soda or would exercise more!) The best way to establish new habits is to make small, reachable goals, take small steps, and build over time.
Begin by making a list of prayer requests once a week–perhaps after church on Sunday.
2) Use a format that works for you
I love my smartphone! I recently was exploring the app store and saw different phone applications that allow you to set and track progress toward goals. You can use a tool like this for your prayer journal. More tech savvy users might consider creating a private blog to record prayer requests. Low tech works for me. I keep a small notebook that fits inside my Bible carry case. (I fold each page in half. I record my prayer requests on the left hand side and leave the space on the right hand side blank so there is room to record answers.) It’s up to you if you want to share your prayer journal with others. For me, it is very personal and I choose to keep my journal in a private place.
3) Record prayer requests
Begin by writing down 3 -5 prayer requests a few times a week. Choose things that are close to your heart and bring those prayers to God during your personal prayer time. Ask yourself: What has God laid on my heart? What you choose is deeply personal. Another thing that works well for me is writing down requests in a way that are measurable. Writing down prayer requests in this way helps them to more tangible.
For example, “Lord, please provide the $3,000 I need to go on our mission trip this summer. Please bless our fund-raising bake sale this weekend.”
4) Pay attention to answers
A great thing about a prayer journal is that you can look through your past entries. When you see an answer to prayer, make a note of it! For example: “I got a reply from a college that I applied to. I was accepted! Thank you, Lord!” Make sure to praise God for what He has done.
Christians often struggle with the question, “What if God doesn’t answer my prayer? What if He says, ‘No’?” Keeping a prayer journal has helped me to face that question with the knowledge that I serve a God who is love; everything He does is motivated by love. Even when it appears that He has not answered my prayers, I know that He sees things that I don’t. Keeping a prayer journal has built and strengthened by relationship with Him in a substantial way.