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Friday, January 02, 2009
Using a prayer journal
As promised, here is a repeat of the information of actually using one's prayer journal. Putting a prayer journal together is fun and inspiring, but using it in one's prayer time is such a blessing.
Before I begin, I'd like to say a word about prayer requests. A number of people have asked me how I deal with the short-term, more urgent prayer requests which we get at church, from friends, or via our church’s prayer chain (email or phone). They felt these requests would be hard to keep track of on an ongoing basis in a prayer journal. And they’re right. I don’t put these sorts of requests in my prayer journal.
If I get a request for someone at church, I usually write it down in the notebook I keep with me for sermon notes. That’s usually enough to keep that request in my memory for when I pray for that person during the week. When it’s answered, I can cross it out. If I get a request via phone or email, I’ll jot it on a post-it note. When the prayer is answered, I toss the paper.
The prayer requests I keep in my prayer journal are long-term ones. For example, for my grown children I pray for things like this: • Closeness to God • Spiritual growth • Wisdom for parenting • Wisdom for marriage • Wise use of finances • Wise use of time • Use of spiritual gifts and talents... etc.
Now, as to actually using my prayer journal on a daily basis. The first section I come to is Adoration -- where I have a number of pages concerning the attributes of God. So I turn to the attribute for the day -- I keep a marker in this section so I praise God for a different attribute each day. As I praise Him for, say, His omniscience, I can also thank Him for the fact that He knows all about me and every circumstance of my life. I find that praising God for His attributes first sets the tone for my prayer time.
This section also includes pages to praise God for various spiritual blessings -- first, for Himself, then for Jesus, for the Holy Spirit, for the Bible. (I plan on adding to these pages this year, as there are many more spiritual blessings that God showers on us.)
Next, I come to Agreeing -- that is, agreeing with God about my sin. In this section I have a number of pages concerning character flaws and sin issues in my life. Again, I keep a marker in this section so I pray concerning a different problem each day. This makes a huge difference in my life, because these issues don’t slip off my radar screen. I am praying about them on a regular basis.
Also in this section, I have a section called Health and Energy -- detailing the daily need for eating healthfully, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, etc. Again, since these are areas where I am prone to get lazy, it makes sense to have them here where I can pray about them every day. Again, I just pray about one of these areas each day. It would be easy to get carried away and pray for every area every day, but that would be overwhelming and much less meaningful.
Next, I come to Asking. Within this section, I start by praying through the requests for Every Day. These would be ongoing, long-term requests for my husband, children/spouses, grandchildren, parents and close friends.
Next, I pray through the requests I have allotted to different days of the week. On Monday, for example, I pray for missionaries. Again, the requests I pray for missionaries are not short-term urgent requests (although I do pray for those needs at other times) but are ongoing, long-term things like protection, boldness, opportunities to witness, fluency in language, times of refreshment, etc.
Each day I also pray for a portion of our church family. And this is where those prayer requests I get at church or via the prayer chain come into play. As I pray for, say, Sue Jones (made-up name) I remember that Sue is having a biopsy next week, and pray about that.
So that is pretty much my prayer time in a nutshell. I have found that my prayer time is so much more effective and so much more of a blessing to me as I use my prayer journal. I hope that those who are making their own journals or those who receive them as gifts will find them as helpful as I have found mine to be.
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.