[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.
Below 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. 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|
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 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|
(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.|
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.|
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.)
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.|
F. Thursday -- List those you will pray for on Thursdays. (This is my day to pray for our country and for our extended families.**)
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. )
|And this is the only downside of those plastic divider pages ... you can see through them.|
** 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!