Do you ever have trouble staying focused while you’re praying? I know I can’t be the only one! I start praying about one thing and while I’m praying about that, something will remind me about so-and-so who I said I’d pray for and then that makes me think of the situation what’s-her-face is in and how I need to pray about that.
My prayers end up scattered all over the place and inevitably I forget about someone/something or don’t spend as much time as I need to on a particular person/topic because I started praying about something else while I was thinking about it! I struggled with my focus for a long time before I realized just how beneficial it was for me to have a personal prayer list.
Not just the black and white paper from the church bulletin or prayer meeting, but something in my own handwriting (organized in a logical way) to help me keep my focus and remember my prayer priorities. I LOVE my prayer journal. It makes me happy just to look at it. And I’ve had some people ask me about how I do mine so here it is: my advice for creating an effective prayer journal.
First off, get a cute journal, a pen, and some colored pencils. I picked up a cute non-spiral notebook from Walmart. I think it was only a dollar or two. Here it is:
Then I make my headings (with pen) and trace over them with the colored pencils just to brighten up the paper. I’ve included a picture and you can kind of see the divisions (I’ve blurred the picture for privacy but you can kind of see how they’re split up). I have 17 different sections but you can organize it however it works best for you. I have a section for James, me, one for each kid, one for each of our siblings, for our parents, for best friends and their spouses, a grandparent section, a general section, a section for our church, and a salvation section.
Having them sectioned off like this helps me to pray more specifically for each person. I can write out detailed requests for each person (I have four or five right now for the kids and six or seven for James and for myself).
Side note: don’t neglect putting a section for yourself! I avoided this for so long but it is SO important to make sure that you are praying for you.
I have mine and James’ sections beside each other so that I can have our personal prayer needs in the section below our names but in the middle I can put requests pertaining to us as a couple. Then I have a section for the kids. Each kid has their own section with some requests in common (early salvation, future spouses) and then I have their individual needs. Then I have our family and friends listed. Our parents and siblings and friends all have sections with their spouses or families. (i.e. Mom and Dad are listed together, my brother and his family are listed together, etc). All my grandparents have one section where I compile all their needs.
My “general” section are things that fluctuate a little more. Prayer requests that aren’t long-term or aren’t people that will remain on my list indefinitely. Then I have a section for our church. This section is for our church as a whole rather than individuals (individual requests about church members go in my general section). I have spiritual growth, unity, outreach, leadership, upcoming events, etc. here.
My final section is my salvation section. This is my longest section. I have some friends and family and some people I’ve never actually met. This is because I include in this section people who I know have influence on the people I know personally. For example, I have a friend on this list whose boyfriend I’ve never met (only seen Facebook pictures) but I put him too because I know he is not a Christian either. This is my favorite section to cross people off of!
After I have all my sections and my requests written out, I go in and write verses about prayer (those are the colorful bubbles you see). Here are the verses I chose (some of these vary when I make my new lists but I usually do at least these 8):
Psalm 61:1,2, “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
I Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
Philippians 4:6,7,” Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
James 5:16, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”
Psalm 124:8, “Our help is in the name of the Lord.”
Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.”
Psalm 126: 5,6, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and reapeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (This one is written around the border of my salvation section).
Once you’ve got your prayer journal set up, use it! I love mine because it keeps me focused and it is a great visual for me. Because I know how it’s laid out, I can mentally read through it even when I don’t or can’t have it with me. I enjoy praying when I go for a walk or run and since I can picture each section it helps me remember prayer requests for specific people.
My prayer journal has evolved quite a bit over the years but I absolutely love it. I usually make a new one every 4-6 months, but I always save the old lists. It is a great reminder that God does not work on my time. There are requests that were answered almost as soon as I wrote them, and some I’m seeing answered months or even years down the road. It’s always exciting to me to look at the old lists and see just how much of the time God says “Yes!” to my requests. It’s a powerful reminder that we serve an amazing God, even when we are going through times of trouble.
I’ll leave you with this image of one of my absolute favorite quotes about prayer:
I hope this is helpful to you and that it encourages you to create a prayer journal of your own!