Prayer is one of our primary resources as Christians, and yet I often feel that my prayer life is a disorganized shambles. It is extremely rare that I go an entire day without praying (Thanks Mom, for instilling the bedtime prayer habit!) but so many of my prayers are quickie prayers, the mental equivalent of a jotted post-it note, and I often forget important things that I should be praying for. If I pray at bedtime, I have a bad habit of falling asleep halfway through.
Enter the prayer journal, which I’ve kept with varying levels of success over the years. I recently started trying to keep a prayer journal again, though I sort of dropped it in all the busyness of Christmas. I felt the difference, though.
I have a hard time keeping my thoughts reined in while I pray. I forget I’m supposed to be talking to God, and start worrying about things that need done or the movie I watched last night. Then I get back to prayer, but before I know it, my mind is wandering around again. Prayer journals really help me both keep focused and remember all of the prayer requests from church and things that I have to be thankful for (and did you know gratitude has health benefits?).
I also find that praise is one of the most sorely lacking aspects in my prayers. Neal Pollard has an article entitled Praise Ideas for Prayer that really gave me some good ideas on that.
If I list too many things, I tend to get into a “going down the list” mentality, though, instead of taking the time to truly pray about each item. For this reason, I try to limit my daily list. There are always a few things that don’t get written down that I pray about anyway as they occur to me, but limiting myself in this way helps me pray more thoroughly and meaningfully. I recently read an article that suggested giving each day a topic (family, the lost, the church, etc.) to focus on, and I think I will be trying that in the coming year, too.
And now that I’m out of things to say about prayer journals, I’ll leave you with two more links.
Come Fill Your Cup had an article and challenge on prayer journaling that really has some good ideas: Prayer Journal – Let It Overflow
For Christmas I made several small notebooks to give to people, intended for use as prayer journals, like the one pictured above, which I kept for myself. I used the tutorial here at Damask Love. As far as bookbinding goes, it is easy and fast, involves very little glue, and yet still has enough pages to be worthwhile. I used some patterned card stock and chalkboard-style stickers from Hobby Lobby, and I thought they turned out really cute.