I vividly remember sitting on the porch as a teenager with my grandpa on a hot summer day, crickets chirping and mosquitoes biting. He had an old black and white spiral bound notebook in his hand, and for some reason he decided to show it to me that day. The cover was worn and bent, showing evidence of all the times it had been held and thumbed through.
As he flipped though the notebook, he showed me page after page filled with names. All our family, all his church family, and then pages of names were recorded, most of which I didn’t even recognize. Some of the names were highlighted or had notes next to them - marking the ways God had answered his prayers. He told me that he prayed though that notebook every day.
My grandpa, Fred Gill, was a giant in the faith. When my uncle drowned in the river as a kid, my grandfather pulled him out and prayed deafening prayers over him until God brought him back to life. Every time my dad recounts what he witnessed that day, my mind whirls with the power and might of King Jesus on display, answering the prayers of my grandfather. These are the types of prayers I want to pray - the deafening kind that shake heaven and send angels to flight. But my Grandpa taught me that these types of prayers come at great cost and through great consistency. This man who prayed and saw dead lungs fill with air kept record of hundreds of names in a faded spiral bound notebook and met with God daily on those pages. He didn’t rely on emotion to spur him to prayer, and he never casually told someone “I’ll pray for you!” at the end of a conversation. He was intentional, consistent, and used a worn out notebook to keep him accountable to his prayers. He is in heaven now, but his intentionality still convicts me to do whatever I need to do to build a prayer life with God.
While prayer journals like my grandpa’s aren’t at all necessary for a powerful prayer life, they do leave a written legacy marking your time with God. They do keep you accountable and intentional. Whether it be a prayer binder with all the color coordinated tabs, a floral notebook with verses in calligraphy, or a faded spiral bound notebook, maybe a prayer journal can become a monument to you of all the ways you cried out and God answered back.
My prayer journal is one of my most meaningful possessions. I can glance at its floral cover and be quickly reminded of battles fought and won throughout those pages. I process my thoughts best by writing them out, and who better to hand over my mental load to than my Savior?
My personal prayer journal is a mix of prayers written to God, verses recorded, spiritual moments noted, and thoughts that I just needed to get out of my head and onto paper. If you’re looking for something to add to your prayer time, keep reading for a few different tips on creating a prayer journal!
What type of journal?
Like Bible journaling, prayer journals can come in all forms and methods. Get a pretty spiral bound notebook or hard cover journal, use a legal pad, or jot things down in your notes app on your phone or tablet. I’ve used a small half binder before with tabs, and it was perfect for marking the different topics of prayer I wanted to cover. You can also keep a version of a prayer journal on large sticky notes and cover your closet walls. You can make it as intricate or as simple as you’d like.
What do I write?
This is the best part!
You can make a personalized guided prayer journal with tabs and sections for each prayer topic you want to hit. Ex: personal walk, family, marriage, children, local church, community, global church, etc. Leave pages between each section to record your prayer requests for each topic, scriptures to pray, or victories won.
Or make it more journal-style and write out your prayers as journal entries. This is perfect for those of us whose brains tend to wander during prayer time. It keeps you focused on what you’re doing and is an intimate way to communicate with God. By writing down what you’re saying to Him, your prayer time will lose any unnecessary repetitions and filler words that one might be tempted to resort to using. (Amen, amen, amen, right?!)
You can record victory moments in your prayer journal or write down points in messages that have ministered to you. Record different models and types of prayers for the moments you need inspiration. Ex: the Lord’s Prayer, the Prayer of Examen, the pattern of praying through the tabernacle, the ACTS prayer model, etc.
Or, like my grandpa, fill your journal with name after name after name that you call out in prayer before God. Intentionally war for your friends and family, and watch as God supplies the needs!
Power in Prayer
Whether or not you decide to incorporate a prayer journal into your prayer time, I hope this encourages someone today to be a bit more intentional about your time in prayer. I hope you know the power prayer has and the power God has given you. I hope you feel the weight of the burden of prayer press down on your shoulders and drive your knees into the carpet as you meet with your Savior in the quiet place. Prayer changes things, dear sister. Go out and win some victories!