Friday, January 02, 2009

Enriching one's prayer life by use of a prayer journal

[This post is the most read post ever on my blog, with over 8500 page views.  I've been wanting for awhile to update this post and to add some pictures, as one commenter had asked me to do.  Now I'm finally finding a few minutes to do so!

Let me say, too, that these pictures are not fancy.  I didn't stage them in any way, just opened up my journal and snapped some photos.  That's appropriate, because my prayer journal is not fancy either.  It's just an everyday workhorse.  That said, feel free to click on the pictures to enlarge them if you want to read something.]

One of my ongoing goals is to deepen my prayer life. To that end, I'm going to be adding some pages to my prayer journal in the "Adoration" section -- pages dealing with spiritual blessings God gives us as His children. As I thought about this, and as I had my prayer time this morning, I was struck by the thought of what a blessing my prayer journal is to me, and how it has revitalized my prayer life over the years I've been using it and adding to it. I am quite sure that if our house caught fire, I would run for my prayer journal before grabbing anything else!

So, although I've shared about my prayer journal here at my kitchen table before, I thought that today the Lord would have me share again how to make one. Maybe some of you have a goal to deepen and enrich your own prayer lives. If so, a prayer journal can be a wonderful help in doing so. Here are the basic guidelines. Next, I will post about actually using the prayer journal on a daily basis. Hope this is a help to someone today!

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).  [Sadly, Gooseberry Patch no longer sends out a catalog, but sells online.  I have saved many, many of their old catalogs, though, and use them not only for my prayer journal but for the personalized cookbooks I like to make for wedding gifts.]

 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.

Back when I started my prayer journal, these smaller binders were not easy to find, and supplies to fit them were even harder to locate.  Now,  my local Wal*Mart carries them, along with colorful plastic dividers and filler paper of the right size.

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.

Below are my basic guidelines for putting together a prayer journal. Feel free to adapt them for yourselves.


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

A. Praise.
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.  If you need help finding relevant verses, try looking up the attributes of God in a Bible dictionary.
Praising God that He hears our prayers
B. Thanksgiving.

1. Spiritual blessings.
a. God
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 at least 3 verses that describe that particular blessing. Then write a brief statement or prayer describing why you thank and praise God for that blessing.)
Praising God for the spiritual blessing of His Word
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 23 of these so far -- not that there aren’t much 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.)
These encouraging little reminders are pasted into the front of my section on character flaws and sin issues.
B. Health and energy needs
 (This is a category I've added in the past few years. It includes things like praying for a healthy body, praying to be more disciplined, praying about things like healthy eating, exercise, sleep, and more.  I include in this section a page reminding me of God's purposes for my life, information about planning and scheduling to help me achieve His purposes, and more.
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, each of my children and their spouses, and one for some dear friends.
This great reminder is at the beginning of my "Asking" section.
And then, in addition to folks I pray for every day,  I pray for some specific categories on specific days.

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*, and at this point my prayer journal has also evolved so that I pray for a number of friends each day as well]).

D. Tuesday -- List those you will pray for on Tuesdays. (I pray for special friends, near and far away, on this day.)
This is a prayer I wrote to pray for my Christian friends.  Most of the time, of course, I pray for them specifically by name.
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. )

I. In the past few years, I've added a page  for "Decisions to Make".  I need to add another, for this one is filled up on both sides, with many "PTL" notations as I've seen God give wisdom for decision-making.
And this is the only downside of those plastic divider pages ... you can see through them.
* 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.

**  Since I spend an extended time in prayer for our country on Thursdays, I have chosen to place my page for "national blessings" behind my Thursday divider.

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!


  1. Thank you so much for this article on how to set up a prayer journal. I have been wanting to start one for some time but now you have given me the idea of how to do it! I shall be dropping by your kitchen table again!
    Pinksparkle - UK

  2. Pinksparkle, you are quite welcome for the idea! Please feel welcome to drop by my kitchen table anytime! Have a wonderful week.

    God bless,

  3. Thanks for the ideas. Like yourself, I plan to spend more time in prayer this years.


  4. Rachel,

    You are most welcome! Please stop by my kitchen table any time, and feel free to browse through the archives. You will find more posts on prayer, although I don't have them all labeled, you can find them through the search feature.

    God bless,

  5. May I use a portion of this in our Women's Retreat Packet? I'd be happy to provide you with credit and give the link to your site. Thanks for providing such a great tool for us to all use!
    Courtney Milleson

  6. Courtney,

    Sure, you would be welcome to use a portion of this post (however much you would like to use) for your Women's Retreat packets. Hope the information is a blessing to the ladies and that your retreat will be a wonderful time for all of you!

    God bless,

  7. Mrs. T -
    Thank you! I'm excited to share this!
    I have to tell you a 'God' thing. Three years ago I'd purchased a CUTE black and white three-ring binder (the smaller version) with five tabbed pages and paper. I just had to have it, but I didn't know what to do with it. So I tried various things - but none seemed appropriate.

    But then, after reading your post, I tried to straighten up a bit and found the binder, tabs and paper. It was as if God knew all along. I was called to them and set out to use them as my own prayer journal. God's plans are so fantastic - because we really can't see the full picture until much later.


  8. Courtney,

    That is an amazing story! Thanks for sharing it with me! Right there in your own home you had everything you needed to start your prayer journal -- and the binder is even cute! I am sure you will find your "prayer journal journey" to be a great blessing. I appreciate mine more every day.

    Hope the prayer journal info encourages the ladies at the retreat as well. If I can help in any other way, don't hesitate to contact me!

    God bless you!

  9. Mrs.T it was so kind of you to share your prayer journal with all of us; I have made mine and am trying to remember to use it each day.Once again thank you so very much.

  10. Debbie,

    You are very welcome! I am so excited to see how God has been using this post over the last couple of years in the lives of ladies. What a blessing to me to see that. I hope that your will find your prayer journal a wonderful help in your prayer life. It surely has been that to me!

    God bless,

  11. What a great article! I was so encourgeage after reading a book by Diane Moody, Confessions of a Prayer Slacker. Coming across this article now is the perfect accompaniment and I am ready to get started on my own journal!
    Thanks and blessings to you,
    Christa Sterken

  12. Christa,

    You are welcome! I am so happy to hear how God brought this post along your path just at the perfect time. Have fun making your prayer journal!

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table ... and please stop by any time.

    God bless,

  13. MrsTea,
    Thank you so kindly for sharing your prayer journal and encouraging me. This is my year for organizing my prayer life and seeing God move. Journaling was something I did two years ago and now it's time to add another dimension to stretch and grow. Looking forward to more information on the prayer journal.

    Grace and peace to you,

  14. Hazel,

    What a wonderful goal you have set for yourself this year! Thanks so much for letting me know how helpful this post was to you.

    If you want more information, I think you can find most of my posts concerning a prayer journal in this way: Just click on the label "Prayer" in the label word cloud in the sidebar. It will bring up everything that I have labeled "prayer." Of course, I am still working on getting everything labeled, but you should be able to access most of the posts that way.

    I'll be praying for you as you work toward this goal. It will so neat to see how God answers!

    God bless,

  15. love this...found youvia pinterest and so making my own this now following along as well janexxxxx

  16. Jane, I am so glad that you found me via Pinterest and stopped by my kitchen table! I'm glad you like the prayer journal idea and will be making one for yourself.

    Please stop by anytime. I don't get to post every day, but there is lots of neat stuff in the archives.

    God bless,

  17. Thank you so much for this post. One of my friends just gave me a journal and this is the perfect use for it. God bless you and your family. - GV

  18. GV,

    You are most welcome! I hope you enjoy putting your prayer journal together and that it will be a rich blessing that truly enriches your spiritual life. Thanks so much for stopping by to let me know how this post encouraged you!

  19. Anonymous3:35 PM

    I would LOVE to see a few pictures that show what you just explained. I love the idea but can't quiet get it. Thank you. Love your blog. I've been praying about getting organized. Lisa

  20. Lisa, I will see what I can do about that. Maybe in the next week or two. I am so sorry that I haven't gotten to this before now! Real life is just too busy.

  21. Good evening, I found your blog googling Prayer notebooks and came across yours. I know this is an old post but can you do an update on your Prayer binder :-) Please. I d love to see more ideas, I am wanting to revamp mine..

    1. Sonya-Therese, a few years ago (in 2017) I did update this post with photos, as Lisa asked me to do above. I also updated my post on how to use a prayer journal. Link is here:

      Also, if you type "prayer journal" into the search box at top left of my blog, you will find a TON of other posts about my prayer journal -- quotes on prayer, prayers I have written, information on the specific sections of my journal and much, much more. I highly recommend you search in this way. I hope you will find what you're looking for, but if not and you still need some more specifics, comment again and I'll try to help. Thanks for the visit!

  22. Thank you.. I did a mini but wanted ideas on alittle bigger one :-) thank you for the help :-)

    1. I hope that it is truly a help. I know there's lots and lots of prayer journal information here and I hope you find just what you are looking for.


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