Tip of the Day ~ Prayer Journaling
by Heather aka Sprittibee
Probably the very best advice I could give anyone (especially a homeschool mother) would be to start your day off with God. My kids remind me of this when we seem to get off track and the days start ending with melt-down rather than feelings of joy and accomplishment. The question we all need to ask when we feel overwhelmed or like we are failing is “am I spending enough time with God?”
Jesus told the parable of the vine and the branches to his disciples right before he was betrayed and had to leave them. He spoke of the vinedresser’s pruning. Pruning doesn’t ever feel good to a vine… but sometimes those feelings of being a failure or being overwhelmed will lead us back to the source of our strength – the VINE. We have to remember that the fruit we produce will never grow without us abiding in Him.
John 15:4b-5 ~ “No branch can ever bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
A lot of why we think we are failing and overwhelmed is because we ARE failing and overwhelmed. If we are not connected with the vine, those feelings are the clippers of a loving vinedresser that is trimming away our self-reliance, self-pride, and wrong-priorities. When we see that we can’t do the job of a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend, daughter, worker…. Without Him… the light goes on and we turn back to abiding in the vine.
When we were doing the Stewardship Unit with KONOS more than a year ago, one of our assignments was to ‘start a prayer journal for the family’ so that we could all pray together and see how God was working in our lives to answer prayers. This was an activity that would foster a sense of stewardship of our talents and time. I decided that it was a ‘keeper’, and instead of having us do a family prayer journal, I got the kids their own notebooks and set aside time for them each day before we start school to spend alone with God so they could write their own requests and praises. Some times we had lessons on what types of things they might pray for. Some times we wrote lists of others who we knew needed prayer. Sometimes we wrote poems or “Psalms” to God. Some times I even let them draw things in there (they enjoyed drawing what the throne of God might look like one day after we read a verse about it in Ezekiel). I have never corrected or graded them on this journal. It was something personal - between them and God.
Journaling has always come easy to me because I used to do it as a child. I understand that some people have a harder time thinking of what to say, so I wanted to share with you a few ideas we use while we pray in our journals other than just the ideas above:
1. Praying in Victory by Carol Ann Hon is a little booklet with tons of scriptures separated by topic (ISBN 609 993). It is out of print, but you can get a copy of it online for free at the link I have included. Sometimes we use bible verses to help us ‘claim’ God’s promises as we write to Him.
2. Sometimes we write down notes for sermons and then go back the next day as we pray and talk to God about what we thought of them.
3. Sometimes we use our chart from Moms In Touch International (31 Ways to Pray for Our Youth) and pick a spiritual character trait to pray verses about, asking God to build us to be more like that trait.
4. Sometimes we pray prayers from Power of a Praying Wife or Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. Both of these books are wonderful.
5. Someone handed me a copy of the PART prayer method and it is what I try and follow most regularly in my prayer journals. I wasn’t able to figure out where the idea came from, but when I went online, I did find this church website that explains it very well.
Here’s below is their advice (not exactly how my prayer journal – a simple notebook – is laid out… but this is very interesting):
Get a looseleaf notebook, paper, and eight section dividers. Write one of the following words on each divider tab: Praise, Admit, Requests, Thanks, Passages, Listening, Awareness, and Notes. You don’t have to write something in each section every day. Adjust the plan to your own devotional needs.
Copy a psalm or write a praise poem of your own on one page of the Praise section. Date your entry. The next day, skip a space and write a new love letter to God. Praise expresses your feelings toward God because of who He is, not for what He does for you.
On a page of the Admit section, write out a confession of your sins. Look back of the past 24 hours and ask God to show you where you have failed Him. Be specific in your confession. Then, open your heart to receive His cleansing and forgiveness.
Draw a vertical line one inch from the left-hand side of your page. This column will be used to date your requests. Draw a vertical line one inch from the right-hand side of the page. This column will be used to date the answer received. In the middle column, list your requests. Don’t hesitate to list your wants as well as your needs. Also include your intercessory prayer for others.
Put in today’s date and write a thank-you note to God. Express your sincere appreciation for blessings sent your way, gifts given, trials permitted, and prayers answered.
Here you record powerful passages of Scripture that speak to you. When you find a verse that touches your heart, stop to look it up in other versions and in the SDA Bible Commentary. Write down your thoughts about this verse, including a paraphrase if you wish. If you limit yourself to one text per page, you can later file these according to the Bible book or topic; after several years, you’ll have your own commentary.
Take time to listen for God’s voice. Sit quietly for a few minutes and wait for the Holy Spirit to speak. Ask Him to reveal His thoughts and plans for your life. Write down impressions that come to you. Test your impressions against Scripture.
Become aware of lessons God wants to teach you in nature. Spend some time contemplating a part of God’s creation; write down the object lessons you see. Try to find something beautiful or interesting in nature to record each day. If you sense a lesson for life, write it down; if not, just thank God for the beauty He made for you to enjoy.
Here you will include the notes you made of sermons or seminars. Take your notebook with you to church, retreats, and camp meetings. Date the page and make note of the speaker. Outline the main points and jot down Scripture references. Taking notes will increase your ability to concentrate as well as clarify the message the Holy Spirit has for you in each presentation.
Other sections you may want to include are: to-do list, goals, calendar, books I have read, ideas for articles I want to write, stories I have told (sermons I have preached), and dates to remember (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.).
Source: Becky Tirabassi. Releasing God’s Power. Oliver-Nelson, Nashville, 1990.
May God bless you through spending time with Him and teaching this practice to your own children each day. May you always abide in Him.
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