Keeping a prayer journal can reveal God’s movement in your life
Jason and the Golden Fleece. The Knights of the Round Table and the Holy Grail. Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant. For thousands of years, humans have told stories of heroes embarking on epic quests and the adventures they encounter on the way to their goals.
I think this mirrors the deep yearning we have within us to search, to discover, to quest. As Christians, we know God is the object of life’s ultimate quest. And as St. Augustine said, “our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
A way to know God and his will in our lives is through prayer. But the way can be littered with obstacles. A prayer journal can be helpful in charting your progress toward that deeper relationship with God.
Keeping a prayer journal doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply write your thoughts to God — including thanks and praise for his blessings, problems you need help with and people you’re praying for.
My sister Monica has kept a prayer journal since 1999. She has filled seven of them over the years, making daily entries during times of crisis but also when feeling the most “spiritually fit.” Other times, she journals when the urge strikes.
“Journaling in prayer has helped me get to know Jesus better,” Monica said in an email. “I’ve always felt close to God, and the Holy Spirit introduced himself to me over the course of 14 years of Bible study. But I didn’t feel like I knew Jesus that well,” she explained. “Journaling allowed us to bond more.”
Besides using blank books to record her conversations with God, she has also made short entries in the margins of her travel Bible, underlining relevant Scripture verses and noting the date and thanks and praise to God for speaking to her through his word and answering her prayers.
My college-age daughter, Violet, started her own prayer journal a year ago. She has found that she can consistently commit to a weekly journaling session. She writes “prayer journal” in her planner as if it were a homework assignment, “to keep it from falling to the wayside” among all of her assignments, projects and work.
Since beginning her journal, Violet wrote in an email, “my prayer life has become more focused and the ways in which I can see God working in my life are more easily tracked.”
Both Violet and her aunt have seen the benefits of going back and reading previous entries in their journals. “I recently came across three prayer requests from 2009 that were (and are being) answered many years later — one of them was answered MULTIPLE times,” Monica wrote.
Violet said her journal “shows me how God answers my prayers, conventionally or no, as I expected or completely unexpectedly.”
Over time, Monica and Violet are writing their own epic tales of trials, and the victories bestowed on them by the love and mercy of God.
This month, as your planner starts to fill up with new routines and responsibilities, consider adding “prayer journal” to your list and start recording your own epic quest for closeness with Christ. Oremus!
Photo: Janis Olson
Decorate a prayer journal
- Book with blank pages
- Pressed flowers (purchase them or press your own)
- Soft-bristle paintbrush
- Decoupage medium (like Mod Podge)
Arrange pressed flowers into a design on the cover of the book. Take a photo of the layout for reference if desired. Remove the flowers. Using the paintbrush, apply a medium-thick layer of Mod Podge to the back of a pressed flower. Using the tweezers, carefully lift the flower and place it on the journal in the desired position. Repeat until the design is complete. Carefully apply a medium-thick coat of Mod Podge over the whole cover. Let dry for 24 hours. Apply another coat of Mod Podge over the design and let it dry for 24 hours before using the journal.
Prayer journal tips
My sister Monica offers her insights on keeping a prayer journal:
- Choose a chunk of time — such as Advent, Lent or the month leading up to your birthday — to journal every day. This allows you to establish a habit “without setting yourself up for the disappointment of not following through.”
- Journal at the same time every day. The quiet parts of the day — the beginning and end — can be “especially powerful.”
- Pick a theme, such as people at prayer in the Scriptures. Transcribe their prayers on one side of the page, noting your inspirations and reactions on the other side. Monica became familiar with new people in the Bible and the types of prayers they shared with God. “It expanded my expressions to Jesus and increased my trust in Him.”
Northwest Catholic - September 2017