Sometimes they stop my racing soul. Sometimes they illuminate a dark corner. Other times they replay what I missed in real time. I love them. They are the stop sign in my hurry, the spotlight on my failings and the highlight reel in my confusion. They help me encounter the glory, the mercy and the goodness of God. These 37 (and counting) are my prayer journals.
God’s Manifest Presence and Us
God is not satisfied with just revealing himself way back then, when prophets wore camel’s hair and ate grasshoppers. God desires to manifest his grace and truth to each and all of his children. Our part is to be receptive. To be pursuing God regularly and humbly. We need to be looking up from our labours, leaning heavenward with our problems, with hearts that are open to God’s grace and guidance.
Keeping a prayer journal can help with that.
Slowing Down Life
In real time, actions and reactions can unfold at a pace too rapid for mindful evaluation. Journaling enables us to go back over important interactions. It enables us to identify the personal strengths and weaknesses that fuelled our response. It helps us give thought to why we have felt threatened. We begin to see how we were responsive to God, or how we were not. From this kind of reflection prayers of thanksgiving or repentance can flow.
Plotting the Dots
In our lab work as engineering students, we plotted our observations and then tried to make some sense of them. Journaling gives us data we can plot.
Several times a year I will read past journal entries. I am trying to get a broader understanding of what God is doing and how I am responding. In fact, I pray that God would help me make some valid connections. How is God equipping and gifting me? What sorts of things distract me or cause me to stumble? Has God answered a past prayer? Is there something that I need God’s help with?
There is more than one way to go about prayer journaling to boost our engagement with God. Here are a few things that I do.
I intentionally use a pen and notebook. Handwriting is ideal for processing raw reflections. A paper notebook is very versatile, portable and the battery life is exceptional.
I write about the good, the bad and the ugly. Dreams, doubt, decisions, and disappointments are common fare. Sometimes I write a prayer to God. I reflect on God’s word and how it might apply to me.
My journals are to help me pursue God. They are private and unedited.
Have you tried journaling? How did it help you encounter God?