Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why bother to journal? Part 2

The prayer journal

Have you ever promised to pray for someone, only to get caught up in your own cares of the day, forgetting to hold your friend’s need before the Lord?

Yikes! I know I have!  But over the years I have learned the potential prayer has to get people through the day and help them to survive the storms of life.  I know it is important for me – so important I decided to try to become more of a pray-er for others.

Here are some things I have done to help me pray more:

  • Create a prayer journal

One of the tools that has helped me accomplish this is keeping a prayer journal. At first it was simply a spiral bound notebook – the kind I could buy at Wal-Mart for pennies during the back-to-school supply sales. But since then I have graduated to a computer file, using the notebook only to record prayer requests until I can get home and organize them.

No matter what you use, the important thing is to make the prayer requests visible. It’s too easy to forget to pray when you keep them in your head. Even as I log the requests into my files, I am praying for the need.

  • Break your journal into sections

Prayer requests come in all shapes and sizes. Some are emergency needs like the person who just had a heart attack. Others are important, but not necessarily urgent like praying for the success of an upcoming outreach event.

If I lumped them all together on the pages of my journal, it would be easy to gloss over an emergency prayer need so I try to categorize the requests: Emergency needs. Family and Friends needs. Church family needs. Missionaries. My Community needs. Global needs. Work and ministry requests. Personal requests.

For the needs that are ongoing, I divide the journal into weekdays, concentrating on one of the categories of requests each day.

  • Keep a file or section or your prayer journal for resources on prayer.

As Prayer coordinator for our local Christian women’s group, I collect resources on prayer for future reference and to share with the group during our monthly prayer meeting. Anything from illustrations, articles, quotes,  or devotionals will find its way into this section. This month I even found a wonderful paper butterfly  on a heart shaped background with moving wings to cut out and assemble   to go along with our February prayer devotional this month.

  • Keep a prayer calendar

A prayer calendar works great when friends ask e to pray for an upcoming event like surgery which will happen on a specific day. While I do include the request in my family and friends section to pray for prior to the surgery, I have a special reminder on my calendar to pray that specific day and time for the surgery. It also serves as a reminder to ask my friend for an update after the surgery is done.

  • Reserve a section of your prayer journal for answered prayers

This might be the single most important section of your prayer journal!  Whenever I feel down or upset because one of my prayers hasn't been answered yet, I take a stroll through these pages of answered prayers. It helps me remember what God has done in the past and reassures me that He has this current need under control. In His time He will answer.

Prayer truly is one of our most important resources as Christians and keeping a prayer journal can help us make the best possible use of it. Consider keeping one today! If you already do, I’d love to hear about how you do it.

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