Last week, we went practical, and I provided some ideas for how to start a daily Bible reading habit.
This week, we are going to explore how to start a prayer and journal habit. Let’s look at each of these individually, and then I will show how they can be integrated.
Start a Prayer Habit
The simplest way to describe prayer is, it’s a conversation between you and God. Conversations can be one-sided, give and take, or a healthy back and forth. God is a big God, and He lets us ramble or He can reach out to us while we sleep.
There is no magic formula for prayer. You can start whenever and wherever you like. You can talk to him in the comfort of your living room, in the car, or at the grocery store.
It can be out loud, in the quietness of your mind, or on a piece of paper.
For me, prayer is active. I keep a prayer list to help guide my prayer time. If you are new to developing a prayer habit, let me suggest the A.C.T.S. Model:
- Adoration – praising God for who He is
- Confession – confessing your sins to God
- Thanksgiving – giving thanks to God for what He has done
- Supplication – a fancy word for asking God for what you would like (your requests)
This process has guided my prayer life for years. I learned it as a child, and it has stayed with me all these years. I have since modified the structure to better suit my prayer life, but the principles have remained.
Where Can I Pray?
The beauty of prayer is that it can happen anywhere. You can pray in your favorite chair, at work, at the diner or any place. However, I would suggest you find a location that you can come back to day after day.
When you couple this habit with your Bible reading, you begin to stack your habits and you will find that your devotion time takes on a rich time with the Lord.
Here’s a few examples of prayer locations:
- Prayer closet – an empty room where you can post the requests and answers
- Chair or Sofa
Location is not as important, as starting the habit of praying. In the beginning, spend a few minutes working the A.C.T.S. Model. You will develop your own style over time that best suits your needs and the time you have available. There is no wrong way to pray.
Should I Have A Prayer List?
For some time, I have jotted down requests here and there but never spent any time tracking God’s answer to my prayers. Recently, I built a prayer list and began tracking the answers to my prayer requests.
It helps keep me focused, as well as be specific about what I would like God to do or whom I am to pray for. When a prayer is answered or answered in a different way, I move it from my prayer list to the appropriate location.
As someone who walks and prays, I typically review my list and then pray for things and people in bulk depending on the areas of life they are in.
A prayer list is helpful, but it is up to you.
As we stack habits like reading the Bible and praying, journaling is another habit that can help you grow in your spiritual life. Journaling is a way to process your thoughts and feelings in a safe environment.
I have been journaling for years on a variety of topics and in a variety of ways. When I started out journaling, I kept a journal of my travels overseas. Before iPads and iPhones, there were paper journals. I wrote in it religiously as a way to help me remember the experience.
As I grew older, I moved my paper journals to the computer and eventually online. Journals can be a blog of travels or sharing mutual stories of mission trip experiences. My friend Stu shares the journey of hiking the Camino in Spain with a friend.
A journal helps us keep track of the memories and experiences that shape our lives. They guide us when we lose our way, and remind us of God’s provision in our lives.
Most journals are freeform, but I know several people who use more of a prescriptive or prompt-based system for their journals. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to journaling. Whatever works for you is what you should do.
Here are a few journals I recommend:
- Day One – this is one of the best online journals I have used. It’s a Mac or iOS product only, but you can create multiple journals if you want to spread them out or keep one centralized product. I have several journals including one specifically for devotionals.
- Obsidian – a relatively new product – this software program allows you to write in plain text and store your files locally, but connect them so you can see how your journal interacts with other notes in your system if you choose. It’s a much more cerebral approach but could yield some interesting patterns or ideas.
- Notion – this product is similar to Obsidian but lives in the cloud. You can link databases and other notes with each other. It’s another tool with a better interface.
- The Five Minute Journal – a paper-based system that takes five minutes or less to complete daily, and you are guided through prompts to help you get to what you completed during the day.
- The Five Year Journal – this journal is similar to the One Line a Day or One Question a Day journals where you are prompted to write an answer to a question or one thought you had and you see it build up over five years. It’s a great high-level view.
- Baron Fig Notebook – if you want to be completely free form with no prompts and just write your thoughts then this notebook (or any notebook) will fit your needs.
Beginning a journaling habit is fun. You can make it as simple or complex as you like. You can build it up over time, or start tomorrow. I have stopped and started many times with my journaling habit, but I have found that when difficult situations or experiences come along, I gravitate towards my journal. It helps me get my thoughts together, and process through my feelings.
When I am in a good place, I use another journal for capturing the experiences that allow me to add pictures, thoughts, text, and other mementos to help me keep track of the good experience – perhaps even better than Instagram or Facebook.
I encourage you to begin a prayer and journaling habit. Building on your reading the Bible habit and pray over names of people that come to mind. Journal the outcomes of your prayer requests.
As my devotional life has grown, I have begun to journal my prayers which allows me to commune with God in a new way. I speak and He replies and writes both sides of the conversation. When I go back through my journals, I see how God was speaking to me, and how I have grown in my prayer and journaling life.
I encourage you to try it for five days. Ask God to meet you where you are at, and to show Himself to you in a new way in your prayer life and journaling life.
Lord, thank you that we can come to you in prayer with no one in between. Thank you for hearing and answering our requests, and for forgiving us when we get off track. I ask that You would reveal Yourself to us in new ways through prayer and through journaling. Help us to build strong habits that help us better connect with You. Amen!
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