I am currently praying through the Psalms (a psalm a day.) I love the psalms as a template for prayer because it shows how we can bring every little thing to God in prayer: every situation, every emotion and every care.
King David, who penned some of the most-loved psalms, was a great example of how you don't have to be afraid to share what's on your heart (even the ugly stuff); or afraid to lay bare sins and shortcomings. I'm especially encouraged by all of the psalm writers' confidence in God to come through and answer and how they always waited on God alone.
The written prayers in the Bible are here to encourage and equip us.
About 8 years ago, I started keeping a prayer notebook (more out of desperation than anything else), which included scriptures as prayer, cries to God for help and song lyrics turned into prayers. A few years ago, I revamped it (see post here) and decided to get more organized in my prayer notebook approach. It was one of the best things I did. It made me more intentional about how I pray.
My current set up is more of a notebook than it is a journal. I don't write entries in chronological order. Instead, I jot down prayers, people and concerns that come across my mind. I date them and pray over them. When they are answered, I put a check mark and the date beside it. Oh how I love seeing those check marks as I flip through the pages.
I use a Martha Stewart discbound notebook so that I can add pages in as needed. (They are back in stock at Staples now.) And the notebook is really a hodge podge of things. I have pages with the names of God to remind me of who God is (yes, I so often forget). I have a page where I just thank God for who He is. I have pages filled with song lyrics that mirror the sentiments of my heart. I have lists of things that need to be prayed about (a sort of prayer brain dump). I'm thinking of adding pictures of family members (and others ) that I'm praying for (so that I remember I'm praying for a real person and not just a name.)
I admit that before having a notebook, I sort of struggled with prayer and thanksgiving because there wasn't much of a focus. As a writer, I've found this system to be a great boost to my prayer life.
Here are three blessings of keeping the prayer notebook:
- It's a testament of God's faithfulness. Just last week, I flipped through some old prayer requests and realized that a prayer I'd written down two years ago had been answered last year. I didn't even realize it! God is faithful even when we forget.
- It helps me not to be so self-focused. Besides my own requests, I also include prayer for others. This helps me to focus on intercession. Sometimes we may be the only person going to heaven on the behalf of a person.
- It helps to leave cares with God. I've found that brain dumping all concerns out on paper in prayer helps them to stop swimming around in my head. Once they are out, I'm less likely to fret over it.
The best thing about a prayer notebook is how it keeps prayer in my face. Flipping through the pages, helps me to see that there is never a lack of things to pray for (or to thank God for answering).
“Things happen which would not happen without prayer. Let us not forget that.” -Elisabeth Elliot
How do you keep track of your prayers? Do you use a prayer journal? I'd love to see it!