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Have you ever seen that movie, The Help? It’s a powerful film, but there was one part that stood out the most to me. The heroine Aibilene spoke about how effective her prayers were because she wrote them down. She went on to say that people always wanted to be on her prayer list because she did that. I believe God answers prayer according to His Will, and not the media we use. I still thought she was surely onto something. I decided that I would try to keep a prayer journal as a way to better focus and be more intentional in my prayer life. At first the prayers were short, and I didn’t need a very big journal. Then my prayers grew more specific, and I found myself pouring more of my heart out to God. The words and ideas started coming to me more easily, and I enjoyed my prayer time more. As a busy working woman (not yet a mother), it was hard for me to focus on prayers-what to pray for, who to pray for, and putting pen to paper really helped me to concentrate and make my prayer time more meaningful.
My Learning Style Affects My Prayer Life
As a teacher, I know a little about my own personal learning style. I’m not a very auditory person, but I am visual. I can better learn and focus while reading and writing than while talking or speaking. (Surprise, surprise, here I am blogging!) When someone tries to tell me something, there is a good chance I will forget it immediately. However, if it comes to me in a text or an email, or if I write it down somewhere, it’s committed to my memory.
Prayer Journaling is Good for Personal Reflection
While I pray over every aspect of my life, when I first began journaling I was especially praying for children of my own. I have a PCOS diagnosis, and my husband and I were trying earnestly to start a family. I have read back over my prayer journals, and it is amazing how God has answered SO many prayers faithfully. Little things and big requests. He’s covered them all. I love to grab one of my prayer journals, read through it, and marvel how God has worked in our lives. I can remember a time when it actually hurt to keep asking Him for children. In those trying times I could turn to a page of prayer already written, and use it as a guide to continue in petition. I kept praying, and kept believing. I got very specific-I asked for beautiful, intelligent, and healthy biological children to love. God filled that order to the letter and then some! This verse comes to mind for me when I look at my children: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11
One day while reading through past prayers I noticed I actually prayed for a boy at first, and after our son I prayed for a daughter. I didn’t remember that I was so specific in my requests, but my Heavenly Father remembered. That’s just how it happened for us-first our precious son, and then our beautiful baby girl.
God Answered My Prayers as I Was Writing Them
Before I moved to Alaska, I was praying for the spiritual salvation of a family member close to me. I was asking God daily to give me the words to speak to this person to bring him to Christ. I just didn’t know how to approach him, and I loved and cared for him so much. Before my husband and I left Arkansas, I decided I needed to meet with this person and tell him what was on my mind. It came to me-God had been giving me the words to say every day as I wrote down my prayers. I pulled out my journal, highlighted all the parts I had prayed over this person, and I planned to read them to him when he came over to talk.
While I was highlighting before our meeting, I got a phone call. The apartment we had hoped to get in Ketchikan, Alaska, had fallen through. They were not able to rent to us. I was worried about having a place to live when we moved 3,000 miles from Arkansas to Alaska, but decided the task at hand was much more important. I prayed about it, and trusted God to help us find a place to live. There were really a lot of distractions that day in general. I kept to my plan, met with the person, and told him all I had prayed. He was touched. He did come to Christ and became baptized, though not on that day. It was a personal victory for me, because I stayed the course and did not let myself get distracted. I felt I was truly focusing on the most important thing, and the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible comes to mind for me. (Spoiler alert: We’re supposed to pattern ourselves after Mary’s example, not Martha’s!)
We ended up with such an amazing home in Ketchikan, with a ridiculously low rent price and a fabulous view! God is so good and He can supply all our needs-especially when we trust Him and His will. At the time, it was just my husband and me and we were hesitant to move into such a large house with so many bedrooms. It’s a good thing we did because we would need the room. But that’s another blog post.
Finding Quiet Time to Pray
I still write down my prayers during my quiet time. It really helps me to remember to praise God, and to be mindful of thanking Him for as many blessings as I can think of. I will admit, I don’t get as much quiet time as I used to since I still have two children in diapers. I do most of my praying “on the fly”, but when I can carve out some quiet time with a cup of coffee, my Bible, and my prayer journal I still love to write down my prayers to God. I love it even more when my children “catch me in the act”…I don’t think it’s ever too soon to show them what a relationship with Christ looks like.
How to Get Started
How is your prayer life? Are you able to set aside a daily time to pray? The Bible tells us in 1Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
My recommendation is the same as if you were beginning a new workout routine and wanted to set yourself up for success. Try to block out the time that works for you-first thing in the morning is a great idea for this activity. Instead of new gym clothes, get a pretty new journal and some pens that write beautifully. Also, brew some coffee or tea-if the weather’s appropriate sit out on your porch or deck and enjoy God’s creation while you write. You may only get a minute or two some days, but every bit of time spent in conscious prayer is worth it. I pray my story will encourage you to drawer nearer in your walk with Him.