Starting a Prayer Journal
Abraham Lincoln said it best, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.” I can so relate to this quote! 2000 years ago, Jesus modeled a pattern of prayer to the disciples. It is traditionally called The Lord’s Prayer. It is the most famous prayer ever spoken or uttered. What is the pattern?
It is praise (glorifying God), confession (this is where we open our hearts to God and ask Him to reveal our sins so we can cleanse our hearts), thankfulness (being grateful for who God is and what He has done), and petition (telling God of our needs for protection and provision).
If all we do is tell God our needs, it becomes like a wish list or a Christmas list. It is imperative that we follow the model Jesus gave us when we are praying. This will fuel our prayer life.
What we are talking about here is daily devotional prayer journal.
Jesus begins by saying, “Our Father.” Jesus declares to the world who God is.
Here are some names of God you can use to add variety to your journal:
My Father; My faithful Father; My faithful Lord; My Lord; My God; My Father and my God; My Lord and my God; Glorious God; Wise God; Mighty God; Father God; Merciful Father; Wonderful Father; Lord God; God; O, God; O, Father; O, Lord; O Lord my God; Sovereign Lord; You, my God; You, my God; You, my Lord; You, my Father; Dear Lord; You, Lord; God Almighty; God of all people, Most High God.
Jesus praises our Father.
Matthew 6:9-10- “Pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’”
This is called adoration-Praising God for whom He is. When we praise God, we are expressing our love and respect for Him.
Psalm 100:4 states, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”
Psalm 145:3 says, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.”
There are over 365 verses of praise to our Lord in the Bible. One of the books I have written entitled, A Heart of Praise, has a verse of praise for each day of the year.
From Jesus to Mary to David to Paul and Silas, the Bible is filled with examples of men and women praising God.
In her book, Lord, I want to be Whole, author Stormie O’Martian writes, “The best way to focus on God is to thank Him continually for all He has given, praise Him for all He has done, and worship Him for all He is. It is impossible to be self-focused with self-pity while you are glorifying God in that way” (29-30).
Praise helps move our focus from outward (that is our current situations) and inward (that it is up to us to fix our situations) to upward (that God is God Almighty who is bigger than our situations)
Here are some words of praise to help you begin:
Admire, Adore, All-knowing, All-powerful, Almighty, Alpha and Omega, Amazing, Appreciate, Awe, Awesome, Bless, Caring, Comforting, Compassionate, Creator, Everlasting, Giving, Good, Great, High, Holy, Honor, Jehovah, King, King of kings, Lord of lords, Loving, Merciful, Messiah, Omniscient, Perfect, Powerful, Praise, Prince of Peace, Redeemer, Respect, Revere, Rock, Savior, Shepherd, Sing, Sovereign, Value, Wise, Worthy
In addition to these words of praise, I will sometimes write the words to a hymn, Bible verse, or worship song. This morning I wrote, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:9
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
We need to examine our hearts and ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal every sin. Often, I know exactly what I have done wrong. Daily, we need to confess each wrongdoing specifically. God will pardon us when we ask. We need to accept His gift of forgiveness when we truly repent.
Stormie O’Martian writes in her book, Greater Health God’s Way, “Remember, God doesn’t have laws for Himself-they’re for us. Confession is not for Him. He already knows the truth. It’s for you!” (42).
“Search me O God, and know my heart! Try and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Here are a few words of confession to consider:
Anger, Arrogant attitude, Attitude, Bitterness, Boasting, Complaining, Critical spirit, Deceit, Doubt, Envy, Exaggerating, Gossiping, Greed, Grumbling, Harboring resentment, Haughty, Impatience, Inappropriate language, Jealousy, Laziness, Lying, Moodiness, Pouting, Prejudice, Pride, Quick-tempered, Rudeness, Self-centeredness, Selfishness, Spite, Stealing, Unforgiving, Vanity, Worrying
Recently, the Lord recalled my jealousy of a classmate who 25 years ago won all the scholarships at the honor awards night. If I hadn’t repentant of this sin, I would not have been able to fully support her successes on Facebook. Don’t be surprised if God brings up a past sin so you can repent and move on in freedom.
We need to thank God for what He has done in addition to praising Him.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.” Colossians 1:3
I used the category also to thank God for answered prayers. Then, I have written record of God’s goodness.
Here are some words of thankfulness:
Bible, Church, Clothes, Common sense, Creation, Creativity, Education, Eternal life, Everyday blessings, Family, Faith, Flowers, Food, Fresh air, Friends, Grace, Happiness, Health, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Hope, Houses, Imagination, Jesus, Jesus died for us, Jesus rose, Joyfulness, Knowing God, Life, Love, Mercy, Music, Nature, Parents, Peace, Pets, Relationships, Salvation through Jesus, Sunshine, Water
We also need to give heartfelt prayers of thanks to God for who He is. As I have done some research on the attributes of God, I have found at least 123 named in the Bible. Here are just a few attributes of God to ponder and write down:
Bread of life, Comforter, Cornerstone, Counselor, Creator, Deliverer, Father, Fortress, Friend, Guard, Guide, Healer, Help, Helper, Hiding place, Joy, Judge, King, Lamb, Lamp, Leader, Life, Lifter of my head, Light, Love, Maker, Master, Mediator, Peace, Prince of peace, Protector, Provider, Redeemer, Refiner, Refuge, Rescuer, Restorer, Rock, Ruler, Salvation, Savior, Shelter, Shepherd, Shield, Strength, Stronghold, Strong tower, Support, Sustainer, Teacher, Trust, Truth, Way, Wisdom
There is always something to be grateful for. Giving thanks is a healthy way to start each day.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11. It is important to ask God to meet our needs. This part of the prayer demonstrates the Father’s concern for His children. It shows a deeply personal relationship with the God of the universe.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“You do not have, because you do not ask.” James 4:2
Nancy Leigh Demoss writes in her book, A Place of Quiet Rest, “God does not promise to eliminate all our problems or to change all the difficult people in our lives. But He does promise to listen to the cries of His children and to act in accordance with His holy, eternal purposes” (81).
We can pray about all our needs. Again, be specific! He hears the cries of our hearts. We can trust our heavenly Father. He cares about every detail of our lives. God already knows about each personal crisis, each tear, each heavy burden, each shattered dream, each stressful situation, and every difficult decision. Expand your prayer list of each burden you have. Listen to His voice guide and direct your steps. As you record your prayers, you will become delighted as your panic turns into peace. Write down your requests and watch God answer in His perfect way!
I have prayed for thousands of requests for myself, my family, my friends, my church, and our world.
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Joseph Scriven
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13
In Luke 22:40, Jesus teaches the disciples “to pray that you may not enter into temptation.” If Jesus felt it was necessary to help the disciples to pray for protection, shouldn’t we be praying as well?
He also prayed for protection for His disciples. In John 17:15 He prays to the Father, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” Asking God for help in resisting temptations assists us and our family members to stay strong when we are weak.
Plan for prayer. I pray that you will put into practice some of the ideas presented today. As you take practical steps for intercession, may you develop a richer prayer life. Don’t feel guilty if you must skip a few days. There have been a few dry spells over the course of the past years. When my father died unexpectedly, I took time off from many activities as I grieved. Also, don’t get upset if something comes up to interfere with your time of praying/journaling. Fit it in wherever and whenever you can. Find what works to develop a dedicated prayer time. Find your quiet space and begin to maintain a daily prayer habit.
Your faithfulness of prayer affects future generations. As you complete your first journal, you will see the documentation of praises, confessions, thanksgivings, provisions, and protections. May you experience a deeper prayer life as you journal your thoughts to God.