By Cate Russell-Cole
Prayer is one of the aspects of the Christian life that everyone struggles with! We know we should... we try and make time, and often we fail to live up to the goals we have set ourselves. Trying to get into the swing of praying, can feel as elusive as trying to catch the wind in a bottle. Once you achieve getting the lid on, suddenly the wind feels lifeless. I have been just as hopeless at prayer. I am not a formal person, and a formal prayer time just doesn't work with, or appeal to me at all. I am informal. I like to talk to God in the same way as I would talk to my dad - when something happened I wanted to tell him about, or share with him. No matter what I did, I couldn't get motivated to pray properly, so one day, the guilt drove me to ask God for help. God placed a passion on my heart for prayer that has been a constant joy, and companion ever since. Once I realized that I could just be myself, and I enjoyed talking to God, I was able to develop an enthusiasm for prayer. Now I tell God what I am feeling or what I am concerned about as it is happening, in the same way I would a friend. I also have a prayer journal I use. Being a journal keeper from way back, I sometimes find I prefer talk to God on paper. I can express what I am feeling better, it helps me work through the fuzziness in my head, and the act of writing helps me concentrate.
A prayer journal is just like any other kind of journal. You set aside some time every day to write about what is happening in your life. What makes your prayer journal more special than any other kind of diary or journal, is it is written to the Lord: one long prayer. If you have trouble getting up early to pray, or find it hard to close your eyes and try to stay in focus, maybe a prayer journal will help you. The act of writing will keep you cantered on what you are doing, and as it is addressed to the Lord, you will remember Who you are talking to. It isn't formal, but it can be if you want it to. It can also contain your deepest thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams. You can write it in the same way you would write a letter to a friend, or along the same lines as a conversation you would have with someone you can trust and confide in. God is interested in every aspect of our life, big and small, silly or solemn. A prayer journal is a way to learn more about Him, and to track where you have grown and been blessed, as you read back through the pages.
If everyone was to write a prayer journal, you would never find two the same. We all relate to God in different ways. Some people call Him "Master", some "Dad," some have pet names. Some will tell God about their day: what worries them, they may write poems of praise, or copy down Scriptures that reflect how they feel. In a prayer journal you are free to relate with God however you do best. You can praise Him, ask Him questions about what to do, or things you don't understand. You can place your prayer requests down in writing for people you know in need, which can also help you to remember to pray for them again in coming days. Some people like to read devotions every day and write down what they learnt, or how it affected them. A prayer journal is also a great place for this. Others like to take their prayer journal to church or Bible Study, and jot down the points they want to remember. What you do and don't want to include, is up to you and the Lord to decide together. The main idea is to be open, honest, and to set aside that time as a part of your time with God.
If you are struggling with prayer, consider getting yourself a prayer journal, and see if it will make a difference in the way you relate to God. You may find it's easier to spend time praying on paper than you could praying before. Whatever your experience, my prayer is that you will be blessed, and that it will be a tool to draw you nearer to the Lord.
Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2007. Please contact Cate at firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to re-use her work.
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Quiet Times with Jesus