3 Ways Keeping a Prayer Journal Can Jumpstart Your Faith

Megan Moore

Contributing Writer
Updated Jul 21, 2023
3 Ways Keeping a Prayer Journal Can Jumpstart Your Faith

We can lose focus during prayers, miss how God is at work, and forget all the ways He has shown us His love when we don't have a document to review. A prayer journal can help, encourage, and bring us closer to the Lord.  

I began writing my prayers in a journal as a way to stay focused. The worries of the world or my tasks for the day kept creeping into my mind when I tried to pray, and I would end up losing sight of what was truly important- connecting with the Father. A friend suggested writing my prayers to remain more in the moment. The combination of mental practice with physical practice helps us to keep our attention on what we are doing. In fact, the journal itself will serve as a reminder for you to pray! When you see your journal sitting on your nightstand or table, or kitchen counter, you will be prompted to pray, even if you don't have time right then to write it down. Remember, God is always available. He loves and rewards when we reach out to Him. So, grab a journal and pen and think about the following reasons to keep a prayer journal!

To Focus

Like me, perhaps you have trouble staying focused when praying silently. Writing out your prayers can keep your mind from wandering. But not only does the act of writing keep us focused on communicating with God rather than just thinking about a list of things to do, but a prayer journal can also help to direct our focus on the right topic. It is so easy to lose sight of God's faithfulness because troubles come one after the other. Jesus told us, "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV). Unfortunately, we have learned to focus on the negative and need reminders of how to focus on the positive. When we write down our prayers, we can easily read if we are focused on fear and desire and negativity or if we are focusing on God's glory and forgiveness and power. Some days, I read my prayers and realize that I have been selfish or greedy, or whiny. Right then, I am able to repent and pray to God in a way that honors Him, thanking Him for giving me repeated opportunities to see His goodness.

I personally enjoy the physical act of writing. The scratching of a pen on paper. The possibility of a blank notebook and the hopes and pains filling the old one. But not everyone enjoys that. Not everyone is physically able to write. That doesn't have to stop you from keeping a prayer journal. Perhaps you prefer to type your journal– that's actually a great way to keep it organized so that you can review it later. Simply search by date or a keyword to review your prayers. You can also utilize talk-to-text or a dictation feature to write out your prayers and have them read back to you. Feel free to get creative in how you document your prayers!

In addition to my prayer journal, I have sticky notes on the walls in my closet. I write my major, consistent prayers there so that I see them every time I look in my closet. I pray them immediately- sometimes as a wailing, begging, petition, and other times as a quick offering to the Lord that I will not carry these myself but will allow Him to work. When a prayer is answered, I move it to another wall as a reminder that He is indeed at work. Most of these pressing prayers remain on my prayer wall for years. They are the big ones– that my delayed, non-verbal son will learn to speak; that my now middle-schoolers will love the Lord and have healthy relationships and know their worth as they grow; that my marriage will be stable, loving, and a representation of Christ's love; that my strongly atheist friend will answer the call of the Holy Spirit. Writing them down and seeing them daily helps me to stay focused on what truly matters. 

To Recognize

Sometimes we don't even see how God has answered our prayers until we look at our prayers again. I need my written word to see what I asked for or what concerned me on any given day and to see how God was at work during that time. Quite honestly, I am so self-centered and emotional that I will often pray for something and completely forget that I even prayed about it until I read it later in my journal. Then the goosebumps come, and my eyes tear up at what a kind, loving Father I have who has answered prayers that I didn't even think about again. Sometimes all I am capable of saying to God when I realize how He has answered my prayers is, "Wow. Thank You." I am truly in awe. Not only do I see when God was at work, but I can see how God was at work. When I read my prayers from a difficult time and reflect on what has changed since then, I am able to see God's hand all along the way. I am not often able to see Him working at the moment, but I definitely can afterward. The prayer may not have been answered directly or in the way I was hoping for, but I can see that situations or even just my own heart has changed, and I am more at peace with the circumstances than when I originally prayed.

Humbling and sometimes cringe-worthy, writing my prayers also shows me how I have grown. I often look back at my written prayers and roll my eyes at myself. Some of the requests I made or fears I had, or even just my immaturity, can feel silly or embarrassing. But the truth is that I am growing up in the Lord. I am maturing, even now as an adult, as I learn more about Him and grow in my relationship with Him. It is so encouraging to look back and see how He has led me along this path and brought me closer to Him! And I have no reason to be embarrassed about growth with the One who made me as I am!

To Remember 

We, as humans, are forgetful. We need reminders. We can forget all of the little things we have asked for, especially when they subtly work out. A prayer journal is our reminder. We can go back and look at what we prayed for and what God did. Maybe every New Year's Eve, you look through your prayer journal, remembering how God has been faithful or answered your prayers over the past year. Perhaps you use a monthly journal that you review that month the following year. My husband and I flip through a journal together, skimming for highlights, on our anniversary. We work together to read and remind each other of our prayers, the answers, the remaining desires and struggles, and our growth. It is harder to remember the details without the written word guiding us. Every year we are thankful for God's written Word and that we wrote our prayers to Him. 

We can lose focus during prayers, miss how God is at work, and forget all the ways He has shown us His love when we don't have a document to review. A prayer journal can help, encourage, and bring us closer to the Lord.  

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/natalie_board

Megan Moore is a military spouse and mom of 3 (through birth and adoption). A speech-language pathologist by training, she now spends her time moving around the country every couple of years. She is passionate about special needs, adoption, and ice cream.