How Praying through Writing Is Helping Me Focus and Grow

Jessica Brodie

Award-winning Christian Novelist and Journalist
Updated Feb 23, 2024
How Praying through Writing Is Helping Me Focus and Grow

I’d heard about prayer journaling, and I was toying with the idea of buying one of those beautiful, ready-made journals when I realized I should try a little experiment. Simple things have always seemed to work best for me, so I got an inexpensive spiral notebook and I started writing down my prayers every morning.

I used to have a great prayer routine. Not only was I able to pray throughout the day, but after I dropped my kids off for school and drove to my office, I’d turn off the radio and have a wonderful talk session with God. 

Then I started working from home, something that ended up being far more efficient for me as a writer and editor, and that wonderful uninterrupted time with God suddenly disappeared. I didn’t have the alone time I was accustomed to first thing in the morning, and my routine suffered. I still prayed throughout the day, and I tried to make intentional time to sit with God, but the truth is that my mind often wandered. I had the most success when I would go for walks in my neighborhood, but when a foot injury forced that to pause, I was left floundering.

I’d heard about prayer journaling, and I was toying with the idea of buying one of those beautiful, ready-made journals when I realized I should try a little experiment. Simple things have always seemed to work best for me, so I got an inexpensive spiral notebook and I started writing down my prayers every morning.

At first it felt strange. I didn’t want my prayers to be mere checklists of things I wanted God to grant, and talking to God on paper felt one-sided in the beginning. So this long-time prayer warrior found herself going to Google asking, “How do you pray?” Google reminded me of a simple practice called ACTS.

ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. And thanks to my daily written ACTS prayers, praying through writing is helping me focus and grow in so many new ways.

What Is ACTS, Really?

Here’s what the acronym means in real-life lingo:

A, adoration

This means writing down some words about how much you love God, how much he means to you, and how much you love his nature or his creation.

C, confession

This means writing about regret over things you’ve done wrong. These can be sins of the past or things you did yesterday, or maybe it’s a heaviness on your heart today that has the potential to build a wall between you and God. It’s confessing that you know you need him, that on your own you cannot possibly achieve salvation. Only through Jesus is there repentance of our sins and access to eternity. It’s expressing the things that are on your heart, the regrets that you have, the ways you want to do better. Just acknowledge this and ask God for help. Let him know how bad you feel about ways you’ve gone astray.

T, thanksgiving

This is taking a moment to express genuine thanks for whatever is on your mind today, whether just waking up or the fact that your body is working today. It can be thanks for your family or friends, for a job, and even for the struggles you are experiencing that are drawing you closer to God. Thank God for anything that’s on your mind: your cat, or the fact that you’re planning to get a special coffee later. There’s nothing too trivial for God.

S, supplication

There is where you spend some time asking God for things you would like him to supply. You might ask him for healing for a sore body or from illness, for a loved one who is experiencing something difficult or life-threatening. You might pray for protection and safety, for healing and holiness, for direction on a job, a financial decision — anything that is on your heart.

Again, just like with thanksgiving, there is nothing too trivial for the Lord. My dryer broke the other day, and this was totally unexpected. That day, in addition to praying for my niece with cancer and for people experiencing war and poverty and hunger, I prayed that God would steer us to the best decision regarding replacing our dryer, which was not fixable.

What I Noticed during This Process

I’ve been doing my written ACTS prayers for a couple of months now, and I have to say I really like it. Forcing myself to write my prayers down doesn’t give my brain a chance to wander. I’m intentionally devoting a piece of my day to something critically important, and it’s more than just me pouring words on the paper. As I write, I feel God conversing with me. My spirit feels connected to him, and I feel closer to him. 

Focusing on adoration at first felt awkward, but I’ve noticed it’s a beautiful time now. Thinking about God’s amazing, awesome, indescribable nature is a humbling experience. I can’t possibly put it into words. Thinking about it is an act of love and writing about it, or attempting to, is also an act of love.

Confessing my sins in writing also felt a little weird at first. But I found it began to transform me. Sometimes there are specific things I write down, and sometimes they are generalities. I know I don’t need the perfect words, that God is able to hear me and he knows my thoughts. As Psalm 139:1-6 expresses so poignantly, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”

I also began thinking about my past, about sins long-ago confessed and forgiven. Sometimes the memories float to the surface as my mind recalls walls between me and the Lord and ways I strayed in the past. 

I always heard about God leaving the ninety-nine to check after the one missing sheep who went astray, and I loved the analogy, but never really thought about how it applied to me. I’ve always been a churchgoer, I’ve always tried to be kind and compassionate, and I’ve always believed. I didn’t really think of myself as that one sheep. But one day, as I was confessing my sins, reality hit me in the face. I began to look back and realize it applied to me, too. God pursued me! He worked really hard to get me on the right path and pull me back when I started to go astray. He closed and opened doors to guide me. Now I see I have been that lost sheep, and I am so grateful to have been found. I never realized this until I began writing down my confessions.

Thanksgiving came easy. I found it was really nice to be able to write down and think about so many things to be thankful for. 

But when I got to the supplication part, where I’m supposed to ask God for what I’d like him to do or bring, I was surprised to realize I didn’t have quite as much to request. My grateful heart, having already expressed so much thanksgiving, realized I already had so much. So while I do ask for things — healing and protection, help for a friend who is struggling, help when I’m having a debilitating migraine — I’m asking out of a place of gratitude.

An Example of Written Prayer

Here is an abbreviated example of what my prayer might look like on a given day:


Lord God, I love you so much. You know I don’t have the right words for this, but today I sit back and think about how magnificent you are. Your creation is all around me — the breath you put in my lungs, even the way that you knit my muscles together so that I can hold this pencil and write these prayers to you. I love you so much, and I am so grateful for you. You are my everything.


Lord, I’ve been so prideful these past couple of days, and I have to admit I’ve been selfish too. Help me remember today that there’s nothing I can do on my own. Everything I have, and everything I am, is because of you. Help me to hear the cries of the needy and to love others as much as I love myself. Help me to put you first. I know I don’t always do this, but I’m trying. Please help me do better.


Thank you so much for all the blessings in my life: my husband, my children, my pets, my home, my mom and my sister and my mother and father-in-law. Thank you for all of my extended family, my friend Katy, and all the other people you put in my life. Thank you for a beautiful church service and how Sunday’s message is still staying with me and helping me. Thank you for the rain outside my window today. I know it’s helping with the growth soon come to this land. Thank you for my body and the breath in my lungs. Thank you for my job and my writing ministry. Thank you for loving me, and most importantly, thank you so much for sending your son. Thank you for salvation. Thank you, thank you, my Lord and my God.


Lord, I ask for healing for my niece, Kendall, who is battling cancer. Help her recover from her last round of chemotherapy, stop the infection, and help the cancer completely leave her body. Protect my family today and please keep us all safe and healthy. Help us all look to you first before anything else. Help us all to model you, to shine your light in the world and draw others closer to you. Please heal my foot injury and keep my headaches at bay. Help me to lead others to you, and help everyone in our world look to you and know that you are the truth and you are the light and you are perfect, holy love. You are the path and the only answer. I love you, God. Amen.

If you’re looking for a better prayer routine, your mind is wandering, and you just can’t seem to establish a good prayer rhythm, consider giving this a try. Write down your prayers. You can use the ACTS model or whatever feels right between you and God.

Whatever you do, know that it’s a step in the right direction. My prayers are with you!

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/ljubaphoto

Jessica Brodie author photo headshotJessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Her newest release is an Advent daily devotional for those seeking true closeness with God, which you can find at Learn more about Jessica’s fiction and read her faith blog at She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook,Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed