As I prepared to complete my year in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, I started a daily prayer journal following the example of my husband who was encouraged by a Rick Warren message on The Spiritual Act of Journaling. I was also inspired by the executive paster, Bo Chancey at Manchester Christian Church. Bo spoke once about spending his early mornings in prayer, devotion, and study.
Enthusiastically, I started setting my alarm to early hours to do the same and failed miserably as I pressed snooze every 9 minutes for an hour. This lasted about a week and I needed to find my own way to connect to God by tapping into my strengths (not mornings) and creativity.
My goal was to continue in daily devotions through prayer and continued reading of the Word. I started with a pack of three simple Moleskine notebooks, color pencils, and a Bible. In the notebooks I divided the pages up:
- Praises & Thanksgivings: I list everything that I’m thankful for or anything positive to give praise. I consider, “if I woke up today with only the things I was thankful for the day before…” and list that. In doing so, blessings are made clear to me.
- People to Pray for: I pray for people close to me in need. I pray for one. I pray for people I need to forgive and let go, people I need to give to God.
- General Needs/Concerns: sometimes there’s something nagging at my thoughts. An area of need in the community, something I’m passionate about (sexual trafficking), or an upcoming event (travel, financial weights). I list those concerns, thoughts, burdens.
- To-do List: Initially when I started, this category did not exist but what I found is when I listed the topics above, something would be placed on my heart to do (call mom, schedule a tour of a safe house, buy a graduation gift, go to the park).
- Q & A: Being direct with God. “If you want to hear God speak, you need to withdraw to a quiet place, wait patiently and expectantly, ask God to give you a picture of what he wants to say to you, and then write down God’s responses to your questions.” -Rick Warren
- Yesterday/lessons: Simply put, this is a quick review of what happened the day before: pulled a muscle stepping of the curb wrong, patio furniture at Home Depot but really wanted bar stools, dinner on patio/met some neighbors, FaceTimed small group 2000 miles away, received email from Samaritan’s Purse about job opportunities in the Middle East thought of Melanie, scheduled meeting with Written On Your Heart Ministries) and lessons learned: Get that health insurance set up already, God is always planning and working, He wants us in our community and connected/plugged in, everyone has their part in passing the baton* (read Unstoppable by Christine Cain).
This act of journaling has been a journey that has been eye-opening and has resulted in me feeling more connected and guided.
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:13-20