We started the year desiring to change. But Priscilla Shirer in her study Armor of God reminded us that focusing on change is a trick of the enemy to keep our focus off cultivating a health and wellness in Christ. This began a month long series on the important of having a daily quiet time or devotions.
Today I want to share how God is using a 3-ring binder in my quiet time to change my life and empower my quiet time.
If you Google “prayer journal” you will find many links to purchase a spiral or string bound book. You will also find suggestions of what to write in your journal – prayers, sermon notes, requests, etc. And each time I purchased or received a prayer journal, I got really excited thinking it would suddenly transform my prayer life.
But after a couple of weeks, the newness wore off and I was back to being frustrated and desiring something more. I found the pre-bound book to be restraining and hard to use with my Type A personality.
Several years ago, in desperation, I began searching again. This time I stumbled upon (by the Holy Spirit’s leading) the phrase “prayer notebook.” A single-word difference but a world of difference in research. This led me to a YouTube video by Gina Garland showing me how to create a Prayer Notebook. Eureka!
Direction, vision, and hope all from switching from a pre-bound book to a 3-ring binder.
5 years and many revisions later, my prayer journal has transformed my early morning time with God.
My Prayer Journal
5.5 x 8.5 Inch Binder – I like this size because it is easy to hold in my lap and is about the size of my Bible. In the clear cover pocket, I can place a note card, memory verse, or picture as a reminder of what is important. Or for those of you who are creative, you can create a pretty slip-in cover.
5.5 x 8.5 Inches Filler Paper – This is the only product that will need to be replenished. When the book gets full, I remove the filled pages, and add blank sheets.
5.5 x 8.5 Inches Write-On Dividers – These make it simple to move between the sections.
Place four dividers in the binder adding several filler pages in between each divider.
Setting Up the Sections:
My Prayer Notebook consists of four sections based on the acronym “DRAW Deep” as I desire to draw deep from God’s well of wisdom and comfort.
- Devotion – Who God is.
- Reflection – What God wants me to learn.
- Acknowledge – What God has done.
- Will of God – Praying God’s will over my requests.
What to Journal:
Devotion: Who God Is
While not used every day, this is my go-to section of my prayer journal for when I need reminders of who God is.
When you first begin using a Quiet Time Journal, this section will be blank. But as you find verses (from your quiet time, church, etc.) pertaining to God’s character write them in this section. Sometimes I write the lyrics to a worship song or a quote that I read in a book or hear in a message at church.
For each verse or thought written down, I add a heading which finishes the statement “God is…”. For example, if the verse is about God’s power, I write “…Powerful” and then the verse and reference. On days that I am needing encouragement about the power God holds over the universe, I can immediately head to this verse via the heading.
Below is an example from my journal.
In this section I am writing the characters of God from the Psalms “Blessed Be the Lord…” Reading Plan and Devo shared in last week’s blog post.
Reflection – What God wants me to learn.
Reading the Bible can be brutal. What has helped me the most is “drawing” the verses.
- Read the Scripture (out loud if possible) over emphasizing the punctuation.
- Write the key verse using drawings and pictures to help you understand each word in the verse.
Drawing the words has provided so much depth to the Scriptures and has forces me to look for the key words and to think about their meaning.
Here is an example.
I try to keep the drawings consistent between verses. For example, Jesus always has a cross and God is written in big block letters. This helps with continuity between verses. As you do it, you will develop your own drawings.
I am not an artist so don’t feel like there is a right or wrong way to do it. The key to this process is that the drawings that you choose make sense to you.
In this section I also write down what God teaches me in my Bible reading – a key thought or question. This section could be used to take notes from a sermon at church.
Acknowledge – What God has done.
A sweet friend suggested that I add this sections to my prayer journal. She was so right! No matter how big or small, each day I make a note of blessings that God sends my way. I started with #1 and am now on #897. Be sure to date the blessings to as you will enjoy looking back at all God has done in your life.
Will of God – Praying God’s will over my requests.
Each day has it’s own blank sheet of paper. I begin by adding the date at the top of the page. Then I write key words and use people’s initials. This has dramatically helped keep my prayer time stay focused.
I use the follow format to guide my prayer time.
- Praise – Devotion Verse, Reflection
- Repent – What God showed me in my Reflection time
- Ask – Family, Friends, Church, Gov, On my Heart for Heaven
- Yield – Not my will but Yours.
Here is an example from my prayer section.
I want to get better about going back and writing the answers and dates to prayers so that I am journaling how God answers prayers.
Using a Prayer Journal in Quiet Time
Each morning, I begin with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to open my heart to what He desires to teach me and have me do. I ask for clear thoughts and an open heart.
Then I begin reading. This could be a set of Bible verses or a devotional book that contains Scripture. (Currently I am using the Psalm Reading Plan.)
While reading, I take notes or draw out a key verse in the second section “Reflection.” If there is a verse or point that helps me better understand who God is or what He wants to do in my life, then I place this is the “Devotion” section. (Some devotionals include space to write. In that case, I typically keep all writing in the devotional book and not in my prayer journal.)
Next I turn to the Acknowledge section of my journal and think about how I saw God work in my life the day before. Sometimes it is in the big things. Other times it is a little thing that I see His fingerprints.
Next, I pray.
Is a Prayer Journal for You?
Maybe what I have created is perfect for you. It provides a guide to get you started creating a raw and messy journal. A place to collect thought between you and God.
For the rest of you, I hope that you can glean an idea or two for your own quiet time.
Remember that there is nothing legalistic about this.
Simply come each day with an open heart willing to listen.
I promise God will show up.
Next week’s post will share my thoughts on when to have daily devotions. You may be surprised by my experience. Subscriber here to not miss it.
If you would like to have some accountability or encouragement as you dig deeper into the Word and develop a real prayer life, our Facebook Group – SISTERS – is available. Here you will find other woman who have this same desire. We would love to have you join us!