I recently found myself in a situation that I would rather not be in. I’m the sister Sam mentioned back here, on which ice cream flavor would you be. I’m the “rocky road” sister. I am currently in a state of transition; going from married to single, from SAHM to hopefully working mom, and from home owner to squatter- currently residing in my parent’s basement along with my two young daughters and our dog, Lola. This is not what I envisioned my life looking like. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that this is probably not what my parents envisioned their lives looking like either. Unfortunately, things don’t always go according to our plans.
We may not be able to control our life circumstances, but we can try to make the best of it. Although it has been a challenge, and the struggles have been many, I feel like something beautiful has already come out of it. It has been a catalyst for significant transformation in my life. I have relied more heavily on God than ever before. In my weakest moments, I have found strength and hope through God.
Why I began Prayer Journaling
I began prayer journaling for several reasons, but mainly it began unintentionally. In an effort to focus on more positive things (i.e. anything but the pending divorce, job search, and moving in with my parents- all very humbling things by the way) I began writing down three positive things that happened each day before I went to bed. The more I did it the more I realized they weren’t just positive things happening, but things I am truly grateful for in my life. And from my nightly list of positives began my prayer journal.
Benefits of Prayer Journaling
One of the reasons I enjoy prayer journaling is that I am able to better collect my thoughts. My mind freuqently wanders and writing things down has provided a greater focus for me. I also like using a journal because so often I found myself asking for more and more, versus thanking God for all the things He has done in my life.
Writing can also be calming and it has been a nice way to end a chaotic or stressful day before going to sleep at night. I enjoy looking back on previous pages and seeing if and how prayers have been answered. It helps me see that God is working in my life, even if I can’t always feel His presence or if prayers aren’t answered exactly the way I had hoped. God answers on His timing, not ours, and perhaps His plans are greater than our own.
How I Use My Prayer Journal
I use a blank journal although I have seen print outs available online. I broke mine down into categories with “gratitude” at the very top, as a reminder to first and foremost be grateful for all God does. The other categories I use are; people to pray for, self-improvement, short/long term prayer requests, and ways in which God is present in my life and has answered prayers.
Suggestions/Tips on Starting a Prayer Journal
By no means am I an expert on this topic. I just recently started and everyone has their own way to pray and connect with God. It has been a great tool for me to organize and collect all of my thoughts. The following are some suggestions that have helpful to me:
- Keep things to a minimum. I usually try to limit myself to 3-5 bullet points per category. This way I’m not just writing an exhaustive list of prayer intentions but rather focusing on what is most important and relevant on that particular day. It’s less overwhelming and more focused.
- Don’t fret if you can’t get to it daily. I love prayer journaling but the second it feels like a chore I will throw in the towel entirely. Some nights are busier than others. I have things I need to do, the girls won’t go to bed- a regular occurrence over here, etc. I just have to accept the fact that some nights my prayers aren’t going to get written down. A prayer journal isn’t meant to be an additional stressor, quite the opposite. I don’t always have the time or energy to break out the journal but when I do, I enjoy it immensely.
- A prayer journal is about connecting with God in a way that feels meaningful to each of us individually. I personally am a list person. Therefore, I like using categories and bullet points. However, I can see where a stream of consciousness, just writing about our thoughts and feelings to God, would be very therapeutic and heartfelt. I’ve read some people write and reflect on different scriptures or use journal prompts. There’s no right or wrong way to use a prayer journal and if something doesn’t feel right change it. It’s all about strengthening our relationship with God and only we know what that looks like for us.
I hope you enjoyed hearing from my sister and her tips for prayer journaling. Do you have any more to add? Anything you do different? Would love to hear!
Linking up with Bailey Jean for today’s prompt of a guest post!