Monday, September 24, 2012

Creating A Prayer Journal that Works




While the premise is the same, I have revamped how I use my prayer journal.  I encourage you to read the update in my free ebook "A Quiet Time, Worth the Time."

If you Google "prayer journal" you will find many links to purchase a spiral or string bound book.  You will also find suggestions of what to write in your journal - prayers, sermon notes, requests, etc.  And each time I have purchased or been given a prayer journal, I got really excited thinking it would suddenly transform my prayer life.

But after a couple of weeks, the newness wore off and I was back to being frustrated and desiring something more.  I found the pre-bound book to be restraining and hard to use with my Type A personality.

A few months ago, in desperation, I began searching again.  This time I stumbled upon (by the Holy Spirit's leading) the words "prayer notebook."  A single-word difference but a world of difference for me.  This led me to a YouTube video by Gina Garland showing me how to create a Prayer Notebook.

Eureka!  Direction, vision, and hope all from switching from a pre-bound book to a 3-ring binder.  While what I am about to share with you is based upon Gina's example, I am going to show you how I tweaked it for my needs.

My Prayer Notebook:

Supplies:
5.5 x 8.5 Inch Binder - I like this size because it is easy to hold in my lap and is about the size of my Bible.  With the clear cover pocket, I can place a note card, memory verse, or picture as a reminder.  Or for those of you who are creative, you can create a pretty slip-in cover.
5.5 x 8.5 Inches Filler Paper - This is the only product that will need to be replenished.  
5.5 x 8.5 Inches Write-On Dividers- I purchased more than one set of these because of the number of sections I desired.

Gel Pens- And of course your favorite pens.  I write more when I have a pen that feels good in my hand.  (Same concept as workout clothes when you are running.  LOL!)

Assembly:

Place the dividers in the binder adding several filler pages in between each divider.

Setting Up the Sections:

My Prayer Notebook consists of eleven sections:  God Is..., Me, My Husband, Our Marriage, one for each of our children, Family, Friends, and Blessings.

Depending on your situation, decide what dividers you need and label them.  You may want to tape a picture of that person or an image to the divider to help you pray. 

What to Journal:

God Is...
This has quickly become my favorite section of my prayer notebook. In this section I write down scripture, songs, and quotes telling me who God is and the promises He has given me about Himself.  I begin prayer time in this section.  As soon as I begin reading over the lists, my heart softens to the amazing God I serve. 

To begin this section, I googled "Bible Verses God is..." and found several examples.  Then as I have read through the scriptures, I add ones that speak to me.  Sometimes I write the lyrics to a worship song or a quote that I read in a book or hear in a message at church.

For each verse or thought written down, I add a heading which finishes the statement "God is...".  For example, if the verse is about God's power, I write "...Powerful" and then the verse and reference.  On days that I am needing encouragement about the power God holds over the universe, I can immediately head to this verse via the heading.

Anything (verse, quote, story) that I find to remind me of who God is goes into this section.

Me...
You would think that "me" would come at the end of the binder but in reality this is where I deal with the "me-ness" and sin in my life.  I confess sin, write our prayers, and make notes of what I have read in the Bible - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Looking back, I can see where God has brought me in my spiritual life.  This section is the largest and contains the most writing.

My Husband...
In this section, I pray for my husband, listing specific items.  I ask God to be with him at work, keep him safe, and protect his witness.  More ideas are listed on the "How to Pray for Your Husband" post.

One of my friends uses this section of her prayer journal with the intent that her husband can read it at any time.  How powerful to see specifically how someone is praying for you!  Also, she has asked her husband to write down in the journal specific prayer request that he has.  Sometimes, men don't feel comfortable telling their wives what they need but by providing them with a place to write the needs down still accomplishes the goal. 

Our Marriage...
What concerns do I have about our marriage?  What issues are we facing at the moment?  This is the place that I write prayers and praise about our current situation.  My main prayer for our marriage is that it would be a good picture of Jesus to our children and those around us.

Each of our children... 
A divider separates each of our children giving me area to write down request and prayers as well as praises.  Sometimes the requests are short term (i.e. prayer for a sickness they have) while many are long term (i.e. prayer about a character issue).

Family...
Here I write down prayers for my family (my parents, brother and his family, etc.)  

Friends...
This section is divided into two sections.  The first page is "Friends Who are On My Heart for Heaven."  These are the people whom I feel God has given me a specific burden for their salvation.  I list their names and requests for them.

The next page lists requests and praises for people in our lives - close circle, church, or simply acquaintances.  I take my prayer journal to Bible study so I can add specifics as prayer requests are mentioned.  I also use this section to remember requests that people ask me in conversation or email to pray.

Blessings...
A sweet friend suggested that I add this sections to my prayer journal.  She was so right!  No matter how big or small, I make a note of blessings that God sends our way.  Those little things that aren't so little!

The Format:

I start each line with a date, then the request.  When the prayer is answered, I lightly cross it out, add the answer and the date it was answered.

When a page becomes confusing or hard for me to navigate, I begin a new page by rewriting unanswered requests and ones that I want to keep praying for.   Either remove the finished page to a folder or keep it in your binder until the journal becomes too full.  You could also move the page to the back of the section to keep the most current requests towards the front.

Having the sections and removable pages has made all the difference for me. I can keep what is important at the front and keep it organized on paper and in my mind.

Using a Prayer Journal in Quiet Time:

Each morning, I begin with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to open my heart to what He desires to teach me and have me do.  I ask for direction, wisdom, and revelation as well as acknowledgement of sin in my life.

Then I begin reading.  This could be simply Bible verses or a devotional book.  Read more in my ebook, "A Quiet Time, Worth the Time."

While I am reading, I typically make notes in the "Me" section using the "Drawing Deeper" four-step process.  But, if there is a verse or point that helps me better understand who God is or what He wants to do in my life, then I place this is the "God is..." section. 

Next, I pray.  I start at the beginning of my Prayer Journal by remembering who God is and how much I need Him.  This prepares my heart for prayer time as I am reminded just how incapable I am. Sometimes, I think of a song or listen (without getting sidetracked with other options on my electronic device) to praise music. 

At times, this is all the further that I get.  And that is okay.  Some mornings, I need to simply bask in the presence of my Daddy!  Other days I desire to bring requests before Him.

Following, I turn to the "Me" section.  I confess sins, lay out all of me and my plans.  I ask God to be my hands, my feet, my mouth, my ears, and my eyes.  That I may simply do His work.  I pray over concerns, issues at hand, and process what the Holy Spirit is teaching me.

Next is my husband and our marriage. Then I go through each of our kiddos. 

Depending on the morning, I then pray over family and/or friends.  While praying for specific friends, sometimes I will grab my phone to send them a note of encouragement.

Instant Success?

Is using a Prayer Journal or Notebook going to automatically improve your quiet time 10-fold?  No.  I really wish it would.  Unfortunately, just creating the book and holding it in your lap is not going to lead to a spectacular prayer life. 

For me, having a plan and forcing myself to journal has been the best thing.  Honestly, I don't like to write and journaling was in my mind for those people.  And, I don't journal every day.  But when I do, I find my prayers are more focused and honest.  God is blessing the time that I feast at His table and it has made me hunger for more. 

Will you join me?

If you would like to have some accountability or encouragement as you dig deeper into the Word and develop a real prayer life, our Facebook Group - SISTERS - is available.  Here you will find other woman who have this same desire.  We would love to have you join us!
 
Additional Resources:
- Gina Garlands "How to Organize Your Prayer Life" Handout
- Getting Organized with a Prayer Journal  



How do you organize your prayers and journaling?


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6 comments :

  1. I love God's timing!!! I am teaching 2nd grade Sunday School and on the 30th we are talking about prayer and how Elijah prayed unceasingly for God to bring rain. I was planning on having the kids make prayer journals....so fun to see new ideas and new ways of doing things! I also wanted to tell you that I am doing the 3 year old curriculum with my daughter and we had the same verse to memorize at Sunday School and preschool....God has everything figured out and I am reminded that His plans are always the best!

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  2. Like the above person commented, how great is God's timing. I have been seeking for a way to increase (really create) private prayer time and keep a record of it.

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