How to Use a Prayer Journal
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Do you use a prayer journal? I didn’t for a long time, but recently started one – and I love it! Until this month, I had always used my faith journal instead. You can learn along with me how a prayer journal gives order and passion to your prayers. This tried-and-true tool can make you a warrior on your knees!
But first, why did I switch from a faith journal to a prayer journal? More than 3 years ago, one of the first posts I published was about making and using a faith journal. I had one at the time that I used regularly, so I took some pics, wrote a bit about how I used it, and hit publish.
Fast-forward 3 years and my prayer journal is helping my prayer life in ways my faith journal never did. As I’ve grown and my life has changed over the last 3 years, so have the tools I’ve used in my spiritual life.
Although I used my faith journal for years, I eventually found that using a bound journal was not flexible enough for me. Also, I created a digital prayer journal – the 20 Ways to Pray Journal – that I use and sell. But the pages either had to be folded or printed smaller for my faith journal. Or I had to put them in a separate folder.
I finally made the jump to making a separate prayer journal. All of the pages I use are included in the 20 Ways to Pray Journal and some of them I had to create just to make this switch! As I grow and learn in my praying life, I may add more new pages. Of course, all the new pages will automatically be sent to past purchasers of the 20 Ways to Pray Journal (at the same email address you used to purchase).
I am finding this new format so great for me that I want to encourage as many of you as possible to get it and use it. If you’re on my email list, you’ll soon be receiving a 20% off coupon code to help you add order and passion to your prayer life!
Now, on to the details (with lots of pictures!).
How to Use a Prayer Journal: The Nuts & Bolts
What type of notebook do you want?
Creating a flexible prayer journal is important. You will want to be able to easily add and remove pages. The best 2 choices for that are either a classic 3-ring binder or a disc-bound system. Both binders and disc-bound systems come in a variety of sizes, but the traditional school size is most popular.
You will need to decide which option will work best for you. Consider the following in making your choice:
- Do you have either a binder or disc-bound notebook? Free is a great price!
- Do you regularly use one or the other for other reasons?
- Will you carry your prayer journal with you anywhere or keep it at home? If you’ll be taking in places, you might want a smaller size or something that looks more professional, like the disc-bound.
- Do you have a heavy-duty hole punch for either a notebook or disc-bound system?
- Do you have friends that use one or the other and love it? Ask them why.
- Besides printable pages, will you want to add notebook paper, dividers, or pockets? Do you have or can you get the additions you want easily?
I chose a regular, old-fashioned, full-sized school binder for three reasons.
- I plan to leave my prayer journal at home, so portability is not an issue.
- I had empty, useable binders (free!)
- I have a heavy-duty 3-hole punch (left-over from my teaching days)
Aside from the pages I’ve printed, I’ve also included 2 pocket pages (that I already had) like these. When I’m in a rush or just want to slip a note or list into my binder, I can place it in one of those pockets and come back to it when I have more time. This is also where my ideas and notes for future additions will live.
What about the pages and other parts?
Currently, the 20 Ways to Pray Journal has only one style of cover. The cover has ______’s Prayer Journal for you to personalize and a blue/teal border. Each section divider is the same design and color, with the section title on it. I didn’t make a spine because all the printable spines I’ve used have been a nuisance. I simply printed a label on my trusty labeler (yes, I’m one of those labeler-addicts!) and I was done with the outside.
Inside, I printed the dividers included in the 20 Ways journal on cardstock (the cover was cardstock also). Then I printed the 20 Ways checklists to include behind the appropriate dividers.
The dividers included in the 20 Ways journal are listed in the order they should be used:
- Praise, Adoration, and Thanksgiving
- Confession and Repentance
- Daily Prayers: Family, Marriage, and Myself
- Monday: Missions and Missionaries
- Tuesday: Career and Finances
- Wednesday: Friends and Extended Family
- Thursday: Church Leadership and Ministries
- Friday: Government, Military, and Global Concerns
- Learning About Prayer
If you would like me to add a separate topic for a divider and include it with the 20 Ways journal, just let me know!
Praise, Adoration, and Thanksgiving
I’ve placed this section first because it’s important to start your prayer time with acknowledging the greatness and majesty of God. Prayer is not a magic lamp and God is not a genie granting wishes.
By acknowledge Who God is first, you center your thoughts on the spiritual, the eternal, the things that really matter. At the same time, you are admitting your utter helplessness apart from Christ. You cannot solve your problems, heal your child or friend, resolve your relationship conflicts, or love your annoying coworker without help from your Lord and Savior.
This is the attitude to have when you go to prayer. That God is great and awesome and that you are completely helpless without Him.
The power of prayer is not in your prayer, but rather Who you pray to.The power of prayer is not found in the words by in Who you pray to. Praying to the eternal God revealed in the Bible is the only prayer with power.How a Prayer Journal Gives Order & Passion to Your Prayers Click To Tweet
Confession and Repentance
Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your wrongdoings have caused a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” (NASB). If you want God to hear your prayers, then you need to confess and repent.
You also need to admit which sins are a continual source of failure in your life. Sins like anger, yelling, overeating, getting drunk, lying, and gossiping (and many more!) can all keep you from living a victorious life in Christ. The confession and repentance section of your prayer notebook is not only for writing your confession (if you want), but even more for tackling those sins that hold you captive.
Yes, have a time of confession every day at the beginning of your prayer time. But go farther. Pray for victory and use the confession and repentance pages for naming the sins that tangle, trap, and snare you. Once you’ve named them, write out verses that provide a roadmap to victory.
For example, if one of the sins that weigh you down is anger, name it clearly. “Lord, I am constantly defeated by anger in my life. Forgive me for the sin of anger.”
Then find and write out verses about anger, such as:
- Psalm 37:8, “Cease from anger and abandon wrath; Do not get upset; it leads only to evildoing.”
- Proverbs 16:32, “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one who rules his spirit, than one who captures a city.”
- Ephesians 4:31, “All bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice.”
Return to those verses daily and use them to guide your prayers for victory.
Daily Prayers: Family, Marriage, and Myself
Prayers for yourself and your family are the most normal, natural prayers to offer. But sometimes even these prayers focus more on temporary and physical needs instead of spiritual and eternal needs. That is one reason I wrote the 20 Ways to Pray lists. I wanted a tool to remind myself – and you – to pray for what really matters.
Behind the checklist for husband, children (grandchildren), adult children, and myself, I have inserted several copies of the intercession worksheet. Currently, I have a page for each of my sons’ families, my husband, and myself. You may want to have a separate page for each person.
The primary reason I use only one page for each family is that I want everything for each family right in front of me. I can list loose teeth, migraine headaches, and a tough week at work altogether. The next day, those needs will still be right there in front of me. I can place a checkmark or star next to each when answers come or the needs pass.
However, if a family member is facing a serious battle – with cancer, addiction, homelessness, or anything similar – you may want to have a separate page for that person. To remind you to pray specifically for that need daily, but also to have a place for recording both small and large victories. Continually praying and praising brings power to desperate situations.
Of course, you may also want to include answers to prayer in the Adoration, Praise, and Thanksgiving section!
When you pray, first go through the appropriate checklist for each family member. This is easy because the checklists are right behind the divider.
Then turn to the intercession pages and add notes, current prayer needs, and other information. You can write as little or as much as you desire. Some people find their prayer time more focused when they write out prayers (there’s a journaling page for that), while others just need the notes to remind them of needs. Honestly, I write far less than I actually pray because my mouth works faster than my pen!
The Daily Sections: Monday through Friday
Your Prayer Journal is designed so you pray through only one section per day unless there is a special need. Surgery for a friend on Thursday? Definitely pray on Thursday! An important business meeting on Friday? Pray on Friday, not just Tuesday.
Monday: Missions & Missionaries
Monday’s prayer focus is missions and missionaries. At a minimum, you will probably want to list the names and mission organizations that you support or your church supports. Use the ‘missionaries’ list to pray for those people. However, when you become aware of specific needs, add those to your list so your prayers become more focused. You may want to have separate pages for different organizations or regions.
For example, my husband and I have several friends who serve in different areas of the world, so I have three intercession pages: one for Poland, one for Savannah, and one for Other (which includes ministries in the Philippines, Taiwan, and India).
Tuesday: Career & Finances
Tuesday’s focus is on career and finances. You could include these topics with the daily prayers for your family. But hopefully, your prayer time focuses more on spiritual needs than physical. If you’re praying daily for financial and career issues, it can take your focus off the need to grow in faith, serve others well, and love in difficult situations!
As always, be flexible. If you or a loved one are looking for a job, you might pray for that daily. When you receive unwelcome financial news – no matter what the day is, pray about it. As with any tool, your Prayer Journal should be a guide, not a master.
Wednesday: Friends & Extended Family
Wednesday is for friends and extended family. Your Prayer Journal needs to reflect your life. Everyone will include different people in the ‘friends & family’ category. So here are just a few ideas to get you thinking:
- If you have a lot of friends at work, maybe you’ll want a ‘friends from work’ intercession page.
- If your extended family consists of only 3 people, maybe you’ll want to include them in your daily prayers.
- If your never-married aunt is like a second mom to you, she goes on the daily family prayers. But your cousins from across the country that you’ve met only 4 times in 40 years? They stay on the once-a-week list.
- Maybe you work at a ministry with several couples. Do you put them with the church & ministries day or with the friends & family day? You decide.
What checklists do you include with the Wednesday friends-and-family prayer lists?
- If any are not yet saved, certainly include the ‘lost’ list.
- Maybe adapt the ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ lists for your couple friends.
- Use the ‘children’ lists for your students – or maybe that should be on Tuesday with your career.
The beauty of having a Prayer Journal is that you decide when and who you’ll be praying for. Once you’ve made that decision, you have a constant reminder to pray (it’s hard to overlook a binder on the kitchen counter!), so nobody goes un-prayed-for. Remember, praying for others is one of the greatest gifts you can give.Praying for others is one of the greatest gifts and greatest acts of love you have to offer.How a Prayer Journal Gives Order & Passion to Your Prayers Click To Tweet
Thursday: Church Leadership & Ministries
Thursday is for church leadership and ministries. Whether you attend a small church with one pastor or a large church with 20 or more staff members – they all need your prayer support. Use the ‘church’ and ‘pastor’ checklists to help you pray wisely. Then add additional prayer needs as they come up:
- Every summer, you may add VBS or summer camps.
- Every fall, you may include holiday outreach.
- Every spring, you’ll want to focus on Easter outreach – which is historically the most common day for non-church-goers to show up at church.
- Add the youth ministry when they are doing a discipleship event.
- Add the nursery ministry when they need more workers (which is always!).
- Be aware of what your church is doing so you can prayer with knowledge and understanding.
Friday: Government, Military, & Global Concerns
Finally, Friday is for the government, military, and global concerns. The ‘nation’ list was written as generically as I could, but I am from the United States, so you may have to adapt a few items. As to what you will want to include in this section, besides the list? Anything on the news is a good place to start.
- Global military threats
- Ongoing military conflicts and wars
- Terrorism across the globe
- Elections and campaigns
- National crisis, such as the US is having on our southern border right now
- Natural disasters and relief efforts
And always, that God will use all these events for His glory and to bring believers into His kingdom.
A Prayer Journal for Order and Passion in Praying
The final section of the 20 Ways to Pray Journal is “Learning About Prayer.” This is where you can record what you learn about prayer, special verses or passages on prayer, questions about prayer, or even books you want to read or podcasts you want to listen to on prayer.
The journaling questions about your prayer life from the 20 Ways to Pray Journal would go here as well. You may want to add some extra journaling pages or notebook paper will provide you more room for writing what you learn as you pray.
You may also want to include a Bible reading log or a memory verse log. The purpose of this section is to remind you that there is always room for learning more about prayer and becoming a more powerful prayer warrior. If you don’t have a special place to post ‘war room’ prayers or verses, this is the place. Turn to it frequently, just to be reminded of the reality, the power, and the privilege of prayer.
I pray that as your prayer journal give order and passion to your prayers, you will grow in faith and love. Persistence in prayer opens the door to greater spiritual blessings in your life and in the lives of those you pray for.