Thanksgiving is next week and it’s obviously a time to be thankful. Some years, it’s really easy to just rattle off a list of everything I’m thankful for. This year is different. I have a few things I know I’m thankful for at the top of my head. I’m especially thankful for getting to spend more time with my family than normal, for some new friends I’ve made and that I’ve been able to continue working during this time. But I know there’s so many answered prayers that I just can’t remember or wasn’t even paying attention to.
In fact, I was recently on a Zoom call with a friend who asked me what answered prayer (or prayers) I was most thankful this year and I couldn’t think of one.
So I decided to start journaling my prayers. For years, I’ve watched friends and family members journal their prayers and always thought it just wasn’t for me. I don’t have the easiest time writing down my thoughts (although when I’m praying without journaling, it’s also hard to organize my thoughts) and I didn’t see the point of writing down what I was thinking as opposed to just thinking and saying it in the prayer.
But in the week and a half I’ve been doing it, it has been really helpful. There are a lot of different ways that people journal their prayers. Some list out their requests and thanks and keep note of when that request was answered. Some write out beautifully written paragraphs detailing all they’re wanting to say. I’m somewhere in the middle. If you prayer journal, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either of those ways (or any other way) – if it’s encouraging you to pray and to be thankful, that’s great!
To give you just a bit of a look into how I journal, mine are all formatted a bit like a letter. I don’t address it or sign it at the end, but I start off writing out the things I am thankful for in a paragraph format and then I write how I’m feeling from the day, followed by my prayer requests. As I write, I usually am speaking out loud in prayer. I choose to speak while I’m writing to remind myself that this journal isn’t for me. That the point of this journal is to pray.
Some days it’s hard to put my prayer thoughts into words. And sometimes it comes so naturally, my hand has a hard time keeping up with my brain as I’m thinking them and my mouth as I’m speaking them. And I’m still making some adjustments as I figure out what works best for my prayer journaling. But I would encourage you to try it. Yes, I think it’s an easier way to “track” answered prayers, but it’s also a nice reminder that God does answer prayers, even the “small” ones. It already has me giving thanks to Him more than I used to in prayer. And there are days that, because I’m writing my prayers, I know I’m spending more time in prayer than I would have had I just said a quick prayer and then called it a day.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).