By Brad Andres
Prayer is something we are to be engaged in every day. Whether we are communicating with God on the go, or we are setting aside a dedicated hour, it is considered prayer. Therefore, sometimes we will have a prayer journal in hand while waiting to hear from God. Othertimes, we will hear from God on the move and need to come back to our prayer journal afterwards.
A prayer journal can be very beneficial to an individuals walk with God. Below are some tips for keeping a prayer journal. Note, there is no right or wrong way to keep a prayer journal. The best way to keep a prayer journal is to do what works for you. Nonetheless, here is some guidance and some tips that may help you start a prayer journal or adapt your approach if needed.
I have kept both a paper prayer journal and an electronic prayer journal. I prefer an electronic prayer journal. Again, this is my personal preference, it is what works for me. Here are some pros and cons of each type.
- Handwriting forces a long thought process and engagement on reflection
- Unless you set it on fire, or spill coffee over it, paper is a safe way to store information
- A journal and pen is much less expensive than any electronic gadget
- Hard to find information if you do not remember the specific date or page number
- Handwriting generally takes more time than typewriting
- Generally, a journal stays at home and is not instantly available
- Over the years, a collection of journals make take up much space
- Ability to search your entries for key words or phrases in order to update prayer requests.
- Many note keeping programs will sync to your computer, tablet, and mobile phone. This enables you to be able to enter prayer thoughts quickly, even when God speaks to you on the go. This also provides access to your prayers in multiple locations.
- Takes up little physical space.
- While still a safe way to store information, there is about as much chance as fire or coffee spills to losing your information in a hard drive crash or other similar electronic mishap.
- Electronic gadgets cost much more money than paper and pen.
- Typing does not reinforce a reflective mindset as easily as handwriting a journal entry does.
All in all, there are various positives and negatives to any format you choose for your prayer journal. If you have any other pros or cons, be sure to include them in the comments section below!
What should be included in a prayer journal? In short, anything you want! Below are some examples of information and types of entries I use for my personal prayer journal.
- Date – I like to know when I prayed about certain things. This lets me see a timeline between prayer requests and eventual answers or responses.
- Summaries – I do not record every word from all of my prayers. Often times, I will summarize my prayers and summarize what I have heard from God. I am more concerned with main ideas and concepts than with a detailed word for word recording.
- Answered Requests – Its great when you can read about a prayer, and then turn to read about the answer or response from God. This lets me draw encouragement from past connections and experiences with God to trust for the future.
- Spiritual Events – Sometimes encounters with God occur in the context of some spiritual event. You feel a breakthrough inside your spirit. You witness or receive a miracle of healing. You witness or receive a financial miracle or spectacular provision. You encounter an angel. You exercise Christs given authority over an evil spirit. Or, you may have simply had an a-ha moment. All of these events usually accompany learning something from God or experiencing him in a fresh new way.
- Personal Struggles – The psalmists often wrote of their personal struggles and internal conflicts. This helps process these struggles in our minds. It also helps us pinpoint issues and communicate what we need God to help us with.
- Written Prayers – Writing can also be considered prayer. We can write to communicate with God. Prayer is not always strictly spoken words. Sometimes I write prayers that I will return to pray again later. This is more of a psalmist approach in telling God about my struggles, praising him for his faithfulness, and seeking his counsel or will.
These can help keep us focused and help us to remember to pray about certain things.
People – I list those people I wish to pray for, and sometimes write the phrases or things I wish to pray about for them.
Situations – Some situations are immediate, and other situations I would like to see change or appear. I keep a list of these to remember the non-pressing matters where I desire to see God move.
Country – It is good practice to pray for national direction and for the national leaders.
Church – It is also good practice to pray for your local church, its direction, and their leadership.
Missionaries – The missionaries whom you feel a connection with, keep these missionaries in prayer. This helps remind you to pray for them as well.
In conclusion, keeping a prayer journal should be a joy, not a burden. You have the freedom to write journal entries as often or as little as you like. There is no need to feel pressure to make daily entries, and there is no pressure to need to reference your prayer journal daily either. Having a living relationship with Jesus and communicating with Him daily is the goal.
Keeping a prayer journal is something that may be a good practice, and it will more than likely augment your relationship with God. Do you have any other tips on keeping a prayer journal? Please be sure to share them in the comment section below!