Writing often feels like an indulgent exercise; an opportunity to give voice to all those things milling about inside. Those things we think but dare not say; those things we dream without expectation that they will come true. It provides a canvas for all types of emotions and dreams.
Writing permit “do overs” and suffers long absences well.
As a young girl I loved to read and began to write as it pulled me closer to that make believe world of adventure – filled with new places and peoples. Sometimes my pages were filled with stories and other days I journaled the stuff of teenage girls with pages committed to crushes and parental angst. And then suddenly the writing of childhood gave way to literary reports and college papers, legal analysis and a bar exam. Lost were the days of indulgence, making way for the routine and the necessary.
I’ll never forget the morning I was introduced to a new type of writing. I was on the first of many prayer journeys, a young woman who had once willingly walked away from her Lord taking her first tentative steps back to His embrace. I remember waking that first morning in the hotel and finding my roommate sitting in her bed, Bible, and journal in hand. I think she was listening to music, a Walkman (yes that ages me) in hand, and I watched as she read and as she wrote. I remember feeling so behind, so unprepared, so ill-equipped for what I was about to embark during that trip and it was okay because she was so gracious with me. That trip would mark the first day in many years of journaling for me.
Pray without ceasing
1 Thessalonians 5:17
A style more vulnerable than a diary, my prayer journals would become the record of a child’s heart crying out to her Abba. There were pages upon pages of prayers. Prayers of repentance, prayers of intercession, prayers just attributing worth to my Father and prayers for myself. Many of those pages were tear stained, some marked with frustration and a passion that only feels safe and less demanding when voiced in ink.
My prayer journals gave me the opportunity to talk through the things God was doing in my life and allowed me to process the things I was waiting on whether it was a husband, a family, or even a new job. They allowed me a safe space to work through those dark places in my life, the areas I knew I was not walking with obedience in.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
The more I journaled the more I could see God working.
I don’t have the best memory and if I am not careful I can miss or forget the important things. I can miss seeing the things God is and has been doing. Without a record I can forget those prayers He’s answered and overlook the evidence of His faithfulness.
Journaling meant a special time set aside for my God; it allowed me to get quiet in His presence and provided a break from the noise.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
And then marriage and life and children happened and the journaling stopped. It didn’t happen all at once. Rather, the departure was like the melting snow on an early spring day. You look around one morning and realize it’s gone.
My prayer journals were replaced by bedtime prayers, quick moments in the shower, and those random times I shut myself away in the bathroom at work for a quick conversation with the Father. And while I don’t think God is bothered by my location or my timing I know that I long for something more. I know the satisfaction and comfort that comes from quiet, unhurried moments with the Father. I believe in the necessity and importance of prayer and want to make sure that I am faithful in this discipline – not just for my own sake but for that of my marriage and my children. I know that a purposeful prayer life is something were called to. I know that the Father longs to spend more time with us – that He encourages us in His word to seek Him in all things. The good and the bad. The big and the small.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
There is nothing like a new journal – crisp, blank pages offer a promise of hope and expectation. Last Friday, while on a date with my husband I bought a journal ready to start the journey anew.
If you keep a prayer journal, what format do you use? How have you found it helpful? What works and what doesn’t?
If you’ve never kept a prayer journal will you try starting with me?