Prayer, Journals, & Prayer Journals
A few thoughts on all 3
For a long time, prayer was actually not a big part of my life. Despite the fact that I was a born-again christian, and fully recognized the need, and the importance of prayer, it was just so hard to make it a habit. I mean, we are busy right? And when we aren't busy, we're tired. And when we aren't tired, we're trying to have fun. Unfortunately, like most of the things that are good for us, prayer is one of those things that can be hard to get around to. It's like everything in our lives pull us away from it. In fact, in the book of Galatians (5:17), the bible even talks about how our sinful nature will always want to do the opposite of what's good for us. Which means, inevitably, that we will never want to pray. Whether we are happy or sad, the instinct of our innately sinful nature is always going to be to run in the opposite direction. Yet, I've learned over the years that the only way to have a growing maturing relationship with God, and the only way to deal with all the crazy in my head (yes, there's a lot of it, you'd be surprised) is to go to God in prayer, and spend time with Him. Doing so is an incredibly powerful tool for growth, with amazing results for helping us sort things out, and be able to deal with everything life throws at us. In fact, I often marvel at how sometimes prayer is the last thing on my list when I'm sad or angry, yet it's always the most effective in the end.
So what can we do? Our nature will always be to run away, yet so much of what we need will be found in prayer. I promise, developing a habit of prayer is not only possible, it grows to become more and more natural as you exercise it. For me, a few practical things have helped: For one, I stopped expecting it to happen naturally. As I said before, our very nature is against it, so don't expect to find yourself just causally craving prayer. You may need to make time for it. That doesn't mean you can't find little moments in your day, like a long car ride, or while getting ready, but it does mean you don't leave it up to chance. For me, blocking out a part of my day to talk to God is sometimes the only way I can make sure it happens. And I'll be transparent, I don't always want to. But blocking out time keeps me accountable, and once I'm doing it, I'm so glad I did. Over the years I've changed the times around, sometimes I even put reminders on my phone, but it's always as simple as making sure it happens. It's much more important to pray, however short or simple, than not to pray at all, because you aren't being intentional.
Another thing that has helped is writing. Especially when I first started to make prayer a part of my life, it was easier sometimes to put pen to paper than to say things out loud. It helped me think, and it helped me create a habit, since I knew I didn't want to leave a day blank in my journal. Something about knowing I had to fill out that page helped keep me accountable to myself. I always pray out loud, but I also always record the highlights (the things that stood out, things that I promise God, or things that I feel God is saying to me) in my journal. I love it because I'm able to look back and see my progress, mark my answered prayers, and make notes about friends that I need to keep in prayers. For an organizational freak like me, it helps pull it all together.
The next time you pray, consider jotting down the highlights. Ask yourself to note the following:
What has God done for me lately? What am I thankful for? Colossians 4:2 "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving."
What needs to change in me? What I have been doing that is separating me from Him? 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"
Application (How can I be more like Him)
Now that I've recognized what I need to change, or what God is telling me, what steps can I take to make that a reality in my life? Galatians 5:25 "Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives."
What's on my heart?
What do I want to ask God for? What do I need His help with? Matthew 21:22 "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."
What have I studied today? What does God have to say to me through His word? What truth can I meditate on? Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path."