Top tips for keeping a prayer journal
Stuck for inspiration when it comes to praying? Experiencing writer's block when you put pen to paper? Here's how to make a success of your prayer journal...
If you’ve got a bit of extra time on your hands due to the lockdown, why not put it to good use and start a prayer journal? It may just help to keep you grounded during this difficult time, and will be a great tool for recording what you are praying for and how God has come through for you. Here are a few tips to get you out of the starting blocks:
- Get yourself set up. You may have a suitable journal lying around, but if not order one online so you have somewhere dedicated to record your prayers. Some people prefer to journal first thing in the morning, while others feel more prayerful while out walking in nature or just before bed. Pick a time that works for you and don’t be afraid to mix it up if things become stale. Grab a drink, keep your Bible handy, switch off distracting devices and give it a go.
- Structure your prayer times. Many people struggle to sit and just pray for any length of time without having some sort of process in place. You may find the SOAP model helpful. The ‘S’ is for scripture. Write a verse out and meditate on it. ‘O’ is for observation. What do you notice about the verse in terms of its meaning, language and context? What would it have meant to those reading at the time it was written? The ‘A’ is for application. What is God saying to you now through this verse? How should you respond? ‘P’ is, perhaps unsurprisingly, for prayer. Use the words of the verse to inspire your prayer time. Be as honest as you can in your response, whether it comes out as thanksgiving, repentance or a request (or all three!).
- Be creative. On days where you have more time or creative flow you can write at greater length, including scriptures God leads you to and intercessions for others. But prayer journals don’t just have to be about words. You can also add colour and doodles, or stick things in as visual guides. You could even include links to songs you have used as prayers. The journal is your oyster!
- Reflect on what you have written. Every so often it’s good to look back over what you’ve written. Once a month may work best for you, or perhaps you could make it part of your Sunday morning worship while the churches are closed. Are there any themes that keep cropping up? Has God answered any prayers you’d forgotten all about? Is there some action you felt you needed to take that you still haven’t taken? Is there anything that could encourage family or friends who may be struggling in their prayer lives? How has your prayer life changed since you started journaling? If you have time, write a little summary each time you pause to reflect, or leave a little note to encourage yourself to keep going or a thank you to God for specific prayers answered.
- Don’t let it become a burden. So often with diaries and journals people start off with great aspirations of writing a full page of notes a day, then by day three you lose momentum and give up altogether. Try to write something each day if you can, but if you miss a day or two don’t panic… Just pick up where you left off. Remember that you don’t have to right reams and reams. The date followed by a short note is fine if you’re in a rush, for example “April 13. Thank you God for toilet roll” or “April 14. Father, I’m feeling low today. Help me.” Then keep on keeping on!