Prayers: Journaling to Remember
Lately I have been tired. Bone tired. You know that feeling? Where it seems the tiredness dwells in your bones? That’s been me. Bone tired and weary.
It seems to hit me when I am not expecting it, you know? You are cruising about life and thinking you are doing well, thats when you get smacked in the face with a bag of tired. Wouldn’t it be more helpful to know when this said tiredness is coming at you? I mean at least then you could clean your calendar and maybe schedule a day of rest… Hahaha! That would be the life. But for those of us in the real world, i.e. all of us, we don’t get that heads up so we have to figure out how to navigate all of this.
Prayer seems to get lost in our daily lives.
There is the rushed prayers – uttered in a quick moment- can sometimes be heart felt, or can be offered in a way as to cover all our bases, as in just in case something goes wrong and we can control the outcome.
Then you have the lengthy prayers- the ones that are more like a Shakespeare monologue than anything that makes sense.
Lastly you have the ones that I like to call blanket prayers. These are the ones that we pray to just cover everything from abstract to specific. I think this is the prayer most typically used. It requires less faith, not too much trust and if it doesn’t get answered there is no harm cause these prayers are not too important.
I heard a speaker once say, whats the point of prayer if it isn’t for change? I think that is our question when we sit down to pray, when we sit down to journal, when we sit down to draw near to God. If we sit down to be with God and are not changed by the encounter, by the time spent with Him then we have to ask what is it all for?
Prayer is our conversation with God. It is a dialogue that can be never ending, if we let it. Prayer is a journey to get to know God, a journey to discover His heart for us. Not only His heart for us, but to hear about the mystery’s He longs to share, for the willing heart.
When it comes to journaling prayers I have used several different approaches. I have written journal pages like I would a letter to a friend filling pages with tears, longings, dreams, and questions. I have filled journals with lectures to God asking why… I have challenged God through statements and even walked away from prayers in anger because I wasn’t getting my way. Needless to say- I have tried many different ways to journal prayers, none of which have stuck for me. Until I read a book.
I was given One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp for Christmas a few years ago and it changed the game for me. The book challenged the way I viewed God, what I thought His character was, and how I responded to Him.
AW Tozer said it the best- What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. How we view God is how we will respond to Him, and even more how we will interact with Him. It happens all the time in our prayers, in our worship, and in our daily lives. We respond to people, things, opportunities based on how we know them to be – even if it is a false idea.
When we pray to a God we are not sure as to who He is or how He will respond we tend to throw out blanket prayers hoping with crossed fingers we don’t make Him mad and have to relive an act from the Old Testament.
Sadly, we can go through our whole Jesus walk with this misunderstanding of who our Daddy God is, and miss out on some amazing conversations. One Thousand Gifts changed my perspective. I began to spend more time writing out what I call my rejoices rather than whining out my prayers like a Shakespeare monologue, or a blanket prayer hoping to get it right and not miss out on my three wishes, if you know what I mean.
I am not telling you to run out and buy this book, although I think it is a tremendous help, but I want to share with you a few of the things I learned from it. I would also like to show you a different way to journal prayers which has been a great encouragement to me, super enlightening, and a fun time as well.
My mom is a list maker. My sister is a list maker. I, however, am not a list maker. Yet with this style of prayer journaling it looks more like a list than anything else. Keep in mind, thats its intention, but not its purpose. What I mean is, with the look of a list you can see all the prayers, they are easy to pick out, and you can look back on them. The purpose is to get your prayers down in one place so that you are able to go over them, pray through them, and process them out.
I break my prayers up into REJOICES and PRAYERS. I picked a symbol for each, so as I journaled I could see the differences. For a few days I even drew a line down the middle of the page and wrote the header of PRAYERS | REJOICES and went from there. My symbol for PRAYERS is a star looking asterisk* and my REJOICES symbol is a bullet point.
A speaker I heard once shared how she used highlighters to highlight the prayers that were answered. I loved that idea so much I stole it and added a little to it. In my prayer journal after I have written out my prayers, if the prayer has been answered I will highlight it in orange – if I feel it has been answered in a way, or completely I will just strike it through and maybe make a note as to the way it was answered. If the prayer that was prayed was answered in a miraculous way I highlight it in pink. Honesty bubble: I have less pink in my journal than orange but I am still looking for those miracle pink moments.
One of the jewels I learned from One Thousand Gifts was to begin and end my prayer time with REJOICES.
REJOICES are basically a time to thank God for all He is, all He does, and for what He is still doing. It is a response to the prayers you have prayed. A statement that even if another prayer never gets answered, if you never get to use your pink or orange pen, He is still good and worthy of our thanks.
To be grateful is one of the lacking attributes in our society. We miss beautiful moments to declare the glory of God in our lives simply because we are not looking for them. Joy is found when we refocus on the things God has done for us, when we put Him as our focus and recognize our need for Him. We have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Romans 3:23 When we look at our lives without the grace of God shining on them, we see how much we have to be grateful for. We see our significant need for Jesus. We see that we have much to rejoice about.
Each time we sit down to share our hearts with God in prayer, we need to spend that same amount of time in rejoicing over the fact the this Creator God sent His Son to come into our very lives. He saw our messes, He saw our brokenness and He didn’t want to leave us that way. He is a rescuing God, a Redeeming Father, and the Perfect One. We can’t help but say thank you.
Remember to make it your own time of study and check out the rest of the Digging In: series to learn how to dig in in different ways.
Still I am learning,
Some more tips:
- Any color highlighter will work
- You don’t have to pick any symbols – it just helps as you look back over the prayers and rejoices
- Make it your own
- Remember to begin and end with your rejoices/grateful heart moments
- Prayer is a personal journey that is between you and God
- Have fun with it