I think most Christians will tell you that prayer is one of the spiritual disciplines they struggle with most. I would be lying if I didn’t admit the same struggle. I’ve read about or heard about many different methods of prayer, but I have a hard time trying to make them work for me. I try one, and when it doesn’t work, I always fall back to this one method that never fails to keep me engaged in payer: written out prayer.
Why this works for me
Keep in mind that not every method works for every person because everyone is different. This is just what works for me in this season of life.
Written Record. I love having a written record of my prayer requests. I love being able to go back and see God’s work in my life and the lives of my loved ones. But there’s another reason why I like the written prayer format. It helps me remember. How often have you sat in a group setting or been part of an email chain where prayer requests were exchanged and completely forgotten each request when you finally sit down to pray? I’ve found that by writing down prayer requests, they are more likely to come to mind when I’m having my prayer time. It also allows me to be able to follow up with people and rejoice or weep with them.
Organized. I hate feeling like I’m just wandering around with no idea of what to do or where to go. This is also true in my prayer life. I like to have a plan and a routine to keep things clear. This is why I love my prayer journal. It’s a simple half size 3 ring binder like this one with simple lined paper and page dividers. And I’ve divided it into 6 different sections:
- Personal. This is where I record my personal praises and prayer requests. I write out whatever is on my heart to the Lord.
- Husband. Here I write out prayers for my husband and marriage.
- Paul M. This is the section where I write prayers for my oldest. As he grows up, it will fill up with more specific needs.
- Benjamin. I toyed with the idea of combining the boys in the same section and I might do that as our family grows. But for now he gets his own section. Honestly though, we are at the stage where I pretty much write the same thing for both of them.
- Family. I keep a prayer list of my extended family and their needs in this section.
- Friends. Similar to the family list, just with friends.
**Pinterest is filled with many ways to build and create your own prayer journal. There are also many premade ones available like this one.
Focused. I have written a post about how I don’t quite time anymore because I can’t wake up before my kids. (It’s like they know we are up and take that to mean they can be up too.) But because they are awake when I am having my Bible time, I needed a prayer method that would work for me with my many interruptions. When I write out my prayers, I can stop in the middle of them to go take a child to the bathroom or change a diaper. And rather than thinking “Okay Lord, where was I?” when I come back, I can skim back through what I’ve written and find my train of thought again.
Pray without Ceasing
The bottom line is this: we are commanded to pray without ceasing. This means we are to cultivate a habit of going to God for everything and in all circumstances. So even if you don’t have the perfect system, you need to be praying. If you don’t know where to start, read a Psalm out loud or say the Lord’s prayer (while thinking about what you are saying. Don’t just utter empty words). These are great “prompts” to help you organize your prayers and what’s great is, the Psalms especially, were written as prayers to God. So as my pastor put it, “Shamelessly plagiarize the Bible in your prayers.” But no matter where you in your walk or what method you use, pray. “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.