It’s no secret I love writing.
Those of you who have been through my 7 day journaling course, know daily journaling has a special place in my heart (and maybe it’s time to do another journaling challenge soon—let me know if that interests you).
I’ve fallen in love with journaling, because it has more benefits than I ever thought it could. It helps me:
- Clarify my thoughts and motivations
- Reflect on difficult circumstances
- Explore tough decisions in my future
- Reveal my sinful tendencies
- Challenge myself to grow personally, relationally, professionally and spiritually
- Quiet my busy mind
- Remember fun experiences
But easily the most impactful and important benefit of journaling daily is writing my prayers.
Benefits of Prayer Journaling
Here are my top five reasons for journaling my prayers, and why I would encourage you to do the same.
#1 I write my prayers down because it’s a powerful spiritual exercise.
There is something incredibly profound about forming your prayers and writing them as you go. It solidifies, clarifies and records your prayers in a way that speaking them aloud or in your head just can’t.
#2 I write my prayers because history has proven the effectiveness of written prayers.
Some of the most profound prayers in history can be found in the Bible in the book of Psalms. Sure, David had a poetic way of communicating his prayers, but the fact that he captured these prayers and wrote them down is what adds an air of beauty and permanence to them. Maybe my prayers aren’t as eloquent as David’s, but recording them certainly adds to my level of purposefulness in writing them in the first place (and no one is going to be reading my prayers thousands of years from now, so who cares if they sound polished?).
#3 I write my prayers so I can reread them.
There has been many times in my life where I’ve written out a prayer, and after God answered it I thought, “Cool, God answered my prayer.” Then, I go back to the prayer I wrote and I realize, “OH WOW, God answered so many specifics of my prayer!” I have a way of forgetting little details (I’m sure you can’t relate), but when I write down my prayers, I’m so much more able to see God’s faithfulness down to the nitty gritty details.
Here’s an example. A couple of years ago when I was praying about whether or not I should speak at a Bible Camp, I asked God to give me the opportunity to interact with an elementary-aged student so I could get an idea of the age group I’d be speaking with. God helped me make a decision about speaking at camp, but I might have entirely forgotten my prayer about meeting an elementary student that was answered the SAME DAY I prayed about it. God is so faithful in the big things and the small little details. Writing out your prayers gives you more opportunities to recognize and praise God for his answers to prayer.
#4 I write my prays to slow my mind down and focus.
I know you’ve never fallen asleep while you were praying because you’re a “good Christian.” And of course you’ve never answered an email and then realized you haven’t said ‘amen.’ You’re perfect, I get it.
But me? Well…my mind wanders.
Writing forces me to slow down and to focus my attention on God. He is so worthy of our full attention and devotion. While he loves all of our prayers even the short and distracted ones, he deserves so much more. When I write my prayers he gets my full attention.
#5 I write my prayers because I used to be self conscious about praying out loud.
I’ve since overcome my fear of praying in front of other people, but in college I would write prayers because I was too nervous to bring them up in front of a group at church. The habit stuck, and I still write my prayers almost daily, but now I also welcome praying out loud and over any situation I can think of. Of course there are personal struggles, challenges and difficult circumstances I wouldn’t share in a large group, and writing these prayers down is a very big part of my prayer life.
Disclaimer: please know I am not saying that journaling your prayers should excuse you from being in prayer with your family (both physical and spiritual), friends and corporately as a church body. I encourage you to make prayer such a regular part of your life that no one would bat an eye if you offered to bow your head and pray for them on the spot.
Praying in Secret
While there is a time for corporate prayer, there is also a time to be alone in God’s presence making your requests and thanksgivings known to him, one-on-one. We’re not called to boast about our prayers and make them known in order for us to make ourselves look distinguished and spiritual.
Matthew 6:6 warns against this and tells us “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” And that’s exactly what journaling your prayers accomplishes. Quiet time, alone with God, giving you uninterrupted access to his heart through prayer and intercession.
In Deuteronomy 6:6-9 it says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (emphasis added).
In this passage, God is acknowledging the effectiveness of writing down his commands so as to be reminded of them daily.
I know that verse is written about his commandments, and not specifically about our prayers, but I like to think the same logic applies.
You Can Write Your Prayers
Next time you’re wrestling with a difficult circumstance, a unique challenge or a high level of anxiety, try writing.
Don’t make any rules about how it should look or sound, just write. No one will ever read it, so write truthfully and be vulnerable about what you’re experiencing. Ask God to meet you exactly where you are and write out the conversation you’re having with him about it all.
Pour out your heart to him, then watch as he moves in your life. Go back and reference that prayer in a week, a month or a year and see how faithful our God is!
Because friend, he is so very faithful. Sometimes we witness his faithfulness but are too busy to give him the credit for it.
Take the time to write your prayers, then watch him work in you, and always, always give him all the glory.