“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior” – Christina Baldwin
One thing I picked up at the Ladies Retreat I attended a couple weeks ago was a prayer journal. It has changed my idea of what a “journal” might really be used to accomplish.
Merriam-Webster says a journal is ” a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use” or “an account of day-to-day events.” In this case, a prayer journal would be an account of my daily prayers or a record of my experience with or refelctions upon the subject of prayer.
The small, handmade pastel journal I picked up contains some of the author’s reflections and advice for approaching prayer. It also includes places to write down specific names and topics that you pray about each day. Another section supplies ample room for listing answers to prayer, and a third area suggests keeping a record of things God teaches you while keeping the journal.
In the past, I have kept a journal that listed all my prayer requests, organized by date. I wrote 5 to 10 requests each day on the front side of the page. Each day, I would review the previous entries and jot down the answers on the same line, scrolling to the back of the notebook page if more space was required. Two years ago, during a difficult time after my grandmother passed away, I was able to do this faithfully for three months.
It’s an enlightening experience. When I went back to scan the journal recently, I saw that God had answered more of those requests, but I hadn’t prayed about them in months. It made me wonder: Do we give up to easily?
Has living in this instant, technologically advanced society taken our impatience to a new level?
Most of the time, it’s more likely that I’ve moved on to another concern. Even if God hasn’t answered my previous requests, something new has taken center stage in my life and I focus my prayers on it. It would be nice to say the reason I can so easily move on is because I did as the old hymn suggests “take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there” (“Leave It There” by Charles Albert Tindley). Unfortunately, it’s more likely that I forgot where I put it, like the keys to my house which I recently found in a purse I used four months ago. (I knew I’d put them in my purse!)
Focusing thoughts on prayer is a great exercise. Of course, I didn’t appreciate the bloodshot eyes I had on my first morning back to work, courtesy of the touching reflections from the heart of the author of this journal. I had some new and pressing burdens. I wrote them down. I will revisit them and continue to approach the throne of grace with them. Eventually, I’ll record my Heavenly Father’s answers.
A journal can be an account of events while recording experiences and reflections. If I don’t recall the event surrounding the reflections I’ve recorded, did I learn from the experience?
Which definition do you feel best suits a prayer journal? Do you keep a prayer journal? Any sort of journal? (Cameron Diaz says she has three different ones going at any given moment.) Have any hints that might keep me faithfully recording long after my lame three month previous attempt?