No matter to whom (or what) you pray, starting a prayer journal can help deepen your relationship with the divine powers at work in your life. Throughout life’s challenges, a prayer journal will give you space to reflect on both your blessings and your struggles. Read on to learn more about this practice, why you should consider adding it to your daily routine, and tips for starting your own prayer journal.
What is a Prayer Journal?
Prayer journals can take many forms and be as unique as each individual’s private relationship with the divine. A prayer journal provides people with a place to meditate on God’s presence in their lives, somewhere to store verses and quotes that speak to them, and, of course, a space to record their prayers. Most people have two key goals for their prayer journaling practice. First, they use it to strengthen their connection to the divine. Second, it helps them actively keep God at the forefront of their thoughts by creating a record of both the requests and prayers they have as well as how God works in their lives on a daily basis.
Key Reasons to Keep a Prayer Journal
Keeping a prayer journal can help you in many aspects of your relationship with the divine. You’ll also find its impact can touch every part of your life — whether by building your faith in God or helping you recognize the blessings you receive all the time. Specifically, a prayer journal can help you:
- Build Your Trust in the Divine. Keeping a prayer journal encourages a type of prayer called “trust-based prayer.” This form of prayer helps people realize that, while they expect prayer to deliver certain things, they must have faith that the divine will provide answers in ways they may not expect or want, but will, ultimately, prove to be precisely what they need. Research suggests that practicing trust-based prayer can even lead to better mental health and a greater sense of satisfaction with life.
- Pray More Thoughtfully. A prayer journal need not replace your ongoing internal dialogue with the divine. Instead, it gives you a space to think more deeply about what you ask of God and why. One of the key benefits of journaling, in general, is having a space to examine and then clarify your thoughts and feelings. The process of sitting down and writing is slower than simply following your stream of consciousness. It also lets you pause so you can take a more thoughtful, focused look at your requests and praises.
- Practice Gratitude. Use the pages of your journal to record both the good and bad things that happen to you. Praise the divine for the blessings you receive in life and seek counsel for the challenges you currently face. You have struggles to overcome, but you have even more to be thankful for along the way. A prayer journal can help you remember that. Express your thanks for the people and situations in your life that raise you up and help you grow.
- Form a Prayer Habit. By making time every day to write in your prayer journal, you will bring God’s presence into your life more mindfully and actively. Research suggests that actively cultivating healthy habits can make people healthier, in general. The best way to do this involves practicing consistency. Choose a time of day when you’ll write in your prayer journal. The best times include just before bed (to reflect on the day) or first thing in the morning (to set your intention and tone for the day). After a few weeks, you’ll find that writing in your prayer journal is an automatic and essential part of your day.
- Keep Track of Your Prayers. Writing in a prayer journal on a daily basis provides you with a record of the blessings you request from God. In addition, your journal can help you see how God answered your prayers — even if those answers don’t always take the form you expect. This practice can make it easier for you to see the way the divine is present and in conversation with you. It also lets you look back over the time you’ve kept a journal and see your own growth, including the challenges you faced and overcame to reach where you are now.
- Collect Meaningful Passages and Quotes. A prayer journal can include more than just a collection of your prayers. It also provides a useful place to collect passages and quotes that speak to you — regardless of their original source. Curate a space in your journal in which you record such items designed to help deepen your connection with the divine powers at work in your life. You can add pictures, draw doodles, or anything else that will help you focus your attention.
If you’re ready to start a prayer journal, here are four tips that can help you reap maximum benefits from this practice:
- Remember to pray for others as well as yourself.
- Try to work your prayer journaling into your daily schedule at the same time each day, if possible, to help you form a regular habit. That may feel like an impossible goal if you have a hectic life at the moment with young children or a new job. If you can’t schedule the same time every day, that’s okay. Just make an effort to do some daily writing whenever you get the chance.
- Find a place where you can reflect and write in peace. A quiet, comfortable environment in which you can avoid interruptions for the duration of your journaling usually works best.
- Create a prayer list to remind you of the people and places in your life and around the world where you wish to direct your thoughts and prayers. This list could include the people you know (or know of) facing a major struggle, your family and friends, or even people on the other side of the planet. Keeping a prayer list will help you remember to keep them in your heart.