How to Keep a Prayer Journal – part 2

In part 1 we talked about the logistics involved in prayer journaling, which is simple enough, but if you took the initiative to do those things, you know there is still something missing: actually prayer journaling.

In this post I will tell you the sections or the elements that I have in my own prayer journal and how it all works together for my prayer life.

For most of you, this is just a jumping off point. Experiment with it and change it around to fit your own prayer and reading life. I assure you, this is not how mine started, and I am sure it will change some more as time goes on.

Date

I start of with the date… simple enough. When you go back to re-read your journal, this will tell you when that log was entered. It will also act as a divider between what you right today and yesterday. If there are any more questions about the date, you can ask it in the comments…

Scripture and Application

(Before you can get to this section, you will put to use your Bible and that Bible reading plan discussed in the last post. Just in case there was any confusion…)

Under the date, I write out the scripture refernce that God really spoke to me through. This may be a long passage or a small section of a verse, but I am specific about the passage, even if it is only a small part of what I read that day. (If you want to record your entire reading for the day, feel free to do that as well.)

Right under the scripture reference I will write out at least a paragraph explaining what I feel like God is speaking to me through this. It may be big, or small. It may be personal to my life or it may be a new knowledge of Him. It may be something that challenges my understanding, or it may be a clarification to something I have been struggling with for a while. Whatever it is, I write it down.

Usually, under this paragraph I will write another paragraph to myself exploring the personal application of this new truth. If God is the one speaking this to me, then how do I respond? What do I need to do TODAY with this truth? What does it look like in the next few days or weeks? This is where it gets introspective, leading to discipline and a plan for personal sanctification.

Praises

After my Bible time, I will usually turn my focus toward prepping my prayer time. For me a journal is not only a record of my prayer life, but it is also a guide to my prayer time for that day.

Since my current prayer time is at night, I begin by looking over the day and writing down things that I am thankful for. If your prayer time is in the morning, this would be a reflection on the day before. I know that all good things come from God, so this will guide me in my praise of Him. I write out specific praises here.

Struggles

This is where I have to be honest with myself and confront my sins. Again this is looking over the day, but instead of looking at what God did right, I look at how I have rebelled against Him.

Now, just for reference, this isn’t always ‘big’ sins. Many times this is where I have to confront my pride, selfishness, greed, anger or bitterness issues. In my journal, most of the time this section is dealing with my relationship with others that I should have done better in. Right now, it is good for me to get them out in the evening, knowing that tomorrow is a new day and “His mercies are new every morning.”

Requests

This section is where I list personal issues to bring to God. It is where I will write out my requests for grace on my own life for the new day. It may be events or projects I will be facing over the next few weeks and how I need God’s mercy to pull it off. It may be that I am getting sick, or stressed, or depressed and requests in that direction as well.

People

Here I will list any requests that people have given me to pray about during the day, or it may be that I know someone is sick or having trouble at work, or even that I know there is sin in their lives pulling them away from God. This list is a place to remind me that I am part of the body of Christ and it is not all about me.

Placemarker

Technically, this is not a section in my prayer journal, but it is just as important. It is related to the Requests and People sections, but it is a standard list I pray that doesn’t really change on a daily or weekly basis.

On a half sheet of paper, separate from my journal, I have listed requests and people, by name, in the following categories, and I pray for them daily:

  1. Family
  2. Church: Pastoral staff and families, Trustees,  Long-term church goals and spiritual growth, Youth Group
  3. Work: (I work at a Jr. High) Principals, My Custodial bosses, Co-workers, certain teachers, students I know personally
  4. Guys: Here is just a section of 7 guys I went to college with who are in ministry that I pray for regularly. In your journal, this section may just be ‘friends’
  5. Africa Trip: I am headed to Africa this summer, so I pray for the team, the African pastors, fundraising needs, etc.

Because this is a separate sheet of paper, it acts as my placemarker in the journal (mine doesn’t have a cool ribbon).

Putting It All To Use

Once I have spent time in the Word, looked at how it applies to me, and have listed all of my prayer items, then I will spend 15-20 minutes walking through my list with God. Writing it down here as a process makes it seem pretty impersonal, but honestly having it all there in front of me helps me to keep focused on prayer, and not get distracted with the other things around me.

Even though it sounds like a lot, usually this only takes up about half a page in my journal. And again, you may not use all of these sections, or you may have more. The idea, though, is that this is a tool which will help you draw closer to God and to have a record of how far He has brought you.

So what do you think? Is your prayer journal different? How so? Do you think you might try it? Do you think it all sounds pointless? Let me know. The comment section is for you.