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Saturday, August 26, 2006
Building a prayer journal
L asked if I would share my instructions for building a prayer journal. I am happy to do so, as I’ve been thinking for some time that I’d like to do a post about my prayer journal.
For years I jotted down prayer requests on scraps of paper stuck in my Bible, or wrote them in the notebooks I used for taking notes in church. Many of them I kept in my head. One of my unspoken prayer requests for a long time was just to be able to organize things so I could pray more effectively. So one day I bought a little spiral-bound notebook and began to try and organize my prayer requests in sections so I could pray for different things and people on different days. That worked for quite awhile, but not quite as well as I had hoped. Then my daughter went off to college and took a class called Study of Prayer. They made prayer journals as a class project. I was so impressed when I saw what a prayer journal could look like -- and with its potential as a helpful tool for one’s prayer life. I studied the journal my daughter had made and gathered my own ideas from here and there. Then I began to put together my own prayer journal. It has become every bit as helpful as I envisioned it would be.
I suggest getting one of the smaller binders -- mine is approximately 7 inches by 9 inches. Larger ones would be fine, but the smaller one is easy to keep with your Bible. I prefer the kind with a clear pocket on the front and back covers, to slip your own “cover art” into. Mine has a colorful picture on the front cover, along with the words “Prayer Journal” and a favorite quotation on prayer. On the back cover there’s another colorful picture (I cut these from Gooseberry Patch catalogs, as these picture many of my favorite things) , part of a poem about prayer, and a verse (James 5:16). I cut card stock sheets in half to fit my binder and -- after punching holes in them -- used them as dividers for the different sections. I used index tabs to label the different sections. I cut white paper in half, punched holes on one side, and used these to write my actual requests on. For the special people in my life, I have their photos (stuck to card stock with clear photo corners) right across from the page with my prayer requests for them. Whenever I come across something that will help me in my prayer life, I incorporate it into my prayer journal. For example, one mission board made available a bookmark listing basic, biblical ways to pray for missionaries. I cut this up and scattered the different requests on the card stock divider for my “Missionaries” page. Every time I pray for missionaries, I have before me some concrete ways to pray for them.
Here are my basic guidelines for putting together a prayer journal. Feel free to adapt them for yourselves.
PRAYER JOURNAL GUIDELINES
Of course there are a multitude of ways you can organize your prayer journal. This is a combination of what my daughters learned in a college class and what I came up with myself. My prayer journal is still a work in progress!
My prayer journal consists of 3 basic sections -- Adoration, Agreement, and Asking. Each section has categories within it.
Section I -- ADORATION
1. Attributes of God. Choose 10 (or more) attributes of God that you want to praise Him for. Make a page for each one. For each attribute, write out at least 3 Scripture verses which mention or describe that attribute. Some examples of attributes would be holiness, righteousness, sovereignty, omniscience, etc. At the bottom of each page, write a brief statement or prayer describing why you praise God for that particular attribute.
1. Spiritual blessings.
b. Jesus Christ
c. The Holy Spirit
d. The Word of God
(For each of these spiritual blessings -- and you could certainly add more, like salvation, sanctification, etc. -- write out 3 verses that describe that particular blessing. Then write a brief statement or prayer describing why you thank and praise God for that blessing.)
2. Material blessings.
(List as many material blessings as you like -- food, home, etc. Write out a relevant verse for each and a brief statement or prayer thanking God for them.)
3. National blessings.
(List our blessings as a nation -- a free country, privilege of voting, etc. Add a verse if you wish and write a brief statement or prayer thanking God for these blessings.)
4. Physical blessings.
(List physical blessings -- good health, the health of your family, etc. Write out a verse if you wish and then write a brief statement or prayer thanking God for these blessings.)
5. Family blessings.
(List your immediate family and other relatives or friends you are specifically thankful for. Add verses if you like and write a brief statement or prayer thanking God for these folks.)
Section II -- AGREEMENT.
A. Character flaws
(List several of your character flaws or areas where you are prone to sin. [I personally have listed 9 of these so far -- not that there aren’t many more than that!] Make a page for each one. For each flaw or sin, find and write out several helpful verses. [Proverbs is a great source for these verses.] At the bottom of each page, write a summary of why each flaw or sin is not pleasing to God, and what behavior He would have you to work at instead.)
Section III --ASKING.
A. Every Day -- Make a page for each person you plan to pray for every day. List the things you plan to pray for in their lives. I have a page for my husband, my parents, each of my children and their spouses, and one for some dear friends.
B. Sunday --List the things you will pray for on Sundays. (I chose to pray for our church services, pastor, Sunday School teachers, visitors, music, nursery, etc.)
C. Monday -- List the things or people you will pray for on Mondays. (This is the day I chose to pray for missionaries. I also pray for a portion of the people in the church directory each day [about one-sixth of the names each day*]).
D. Tuesday -- List those you will pray for on Tuesdays. (I pray for special friends, near and far away, on this day.)
E. Wednesday -- List those you will pray for on Wednesdays. (I pray for our church leadership on Wednesdays.)
F. Thursday -- List those you will pray for on Thursdays. (This is my day to pray for our country and for our extended families.)
G. Friday -- List those you will pray for on Fridays. (On Friday, I have several individuals or couples I am praying specific verses for. I have a page for each person/couple. I have listed the specific things from each verse that I’m praying for them.)
H. Saturday -- List the requests you’ll pray for on Saturdays. (This is my day to pray for myself. I list concerns that I have for my own personal spiritual growth, the use of my spiritual gifts, faithfulness in ministry, etc. )
* To pray for the folks in the church, this is what I do. Make one page for each day of the week, except Sunday. On each page, list about one-sixth of the names of the people in the church. Put that page in the section for the particular day of the week.
Of course you can adapt these guidelines to work better for you. I think that the more personalized you can make your prayer journal, the more of a tool it will be for you. I definitely recommend adding stickers, photos, etc. to add color and interest, and to jog your memory as you pray for special people in your life. Card stock dividers are colorful and very helpful, and index tabs for the different days are also helpful. You may also enjoy finding challenging, encouraging quotes on prayer to add to the journal. Have fun!
I live in scenic northern New England with my handsome husband. We're empty-nesters with a bunch of adorable grandchildren. We love (tent) camping and traveling, but don't get away as often as we'd like to.