Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Prayer Journal: Slowing Down to Listen

One of the most valuable benefits I found in writing down my prayers as I prayed them was that it took me much longer to write down my prayers than it did for me to think them.

I can think, “Lord, I’ve really been selfish this week with my time” in 3 seconds. But for me to spend the time to write down that confession takes at least 18 seconds (yes, I timed it). By writing it down you add 600 times more thought and earnestness into your prayer. Believe it or not, that makes an enormous difference in the direction and focus of your prayers. While you are taking that extra time to write out your thoughts, your focus is on that one specific prayer. It's not jumping to the next issue you need to bring before God. You will slow down your thoughts to give an intense moment to the specific prayer at hand. During that time, you will remember specific things to confess, leading to more authentic repentance – which typically leads us to greater understanding of the truth on the matter, resulting in change or deliverance.

“…in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Tim 2:26

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

Additionally, as we pray in supplication, we find that our earnestness really does increase when we take that extra time to pray for the matters that need transformation in our lives. It’s also amazing how often the Lord has brought solutions to my concerns while I’m spending that extra time penning my requests and worries.

Again, it takes me only 5 seconds to pray, “Lord, I’m really concerned about math. What curriculum should we use next year?” While it takes a full 30 seconds for me to write that. Again, a 600 percent increase in the time and attention I spend on the matter – which typically results in even more time than that as additional thoughts surrounding that issue will come up - I write down each thoughts as it surfaces. So, instead of just penning that one sentence, I may end up adding specifics such as:

“I’ve heard so many negative things about XYZ Math, but I’m really feeling like it would be a good fit for us. Should I get a tutor to come once a week to help out? Lord, we don’t have the money for a tutor. Could you provide a way for this to happen? Lord, if it’s your will for us to have a tutor, I know you will provide someone that we can afford or trade with somehow. Lord, maybe that’s the answer to our math dilemma. Please confirm this to me by opening the doors for this to happen. Thank you, Lord. I’m trusting you with our math situation. I know you will provide for all our needs. You are so good and loving to us. You have been so faithful in all things. I know you will be faithful with this as well.”

This is a far greater increase than the original 600 percent. In fact, it moves us from the realm of microwave prayers into the beauty of a richly interactive prayer life. Writing out your prayers increases your earnestness, your focus and also, you may find you are being gently led by the Spirit as you pray – He begins to show you what to pray about, and gives you the answer He has already provided. This is essentially being Spirit led.

This is only one of the many amazing benefits to keeping a prayer journal.

Grab a prayer journal right now and get started – you can use anything: A composition notebook, a spiral, notebook paper in a binder or a purchased journal. If you begin to do this habitually, you will have volumes and volumes of prayer journals pile up over the years – using every medium imaginable. It doesn’t matter what the journal looks like…just get started and you’ll find an immediate difference in your prayer life. WARNING: Don’t wait until you have the most lovely, perfect journal for spending time in prayer. Begin now and then move into your perfect journal when you get it. Let go of any perfectionist idealism and get with God today!

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

James 5:16

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

I'll report more on prayer journals in the next post!