Having a prayer journal has been the single most important thing, besides reading the Bible itself, for my relationship with the Lord.
I know it sounds kinda cheesy… kinda like having a diary… but it’s so much more. It’s my intimate conversations with the Lord. It’s making sure I am focused on what I’m writing… and not thinking about a cheeseburger or something when I’m praying. It’s stories. It’s testimonies. It’s yelling. It’s saying things I would never say out loud. It’s my fears. It’s my victories. It’s writing the honest stuff. It’s the lies I believe and the truth that’s promised. It’s prayers. Expectations. Struggles. Sins. Fears. Anger. Joy. Hopes.
Here’s a picture of some of my journals:
Books on books. Pages filled with all of the above. Filled with scribbles and journeys and tear splatters. I started my very first journal when I was a camp counselor at Pine Cove Christian Camps, summer 2008. I started by just writing verses that I was reading… then I started writing down prayer requests too… then I started writing pages and pages of my own prayers. I thought that the journal would just be something cool to have from my adventures at camp, but it turned into something way more. I started waking up every morning, before the girls in my cabin were even allowed to get up. I would go outside, sit on our cabin porch… and just write… and listen… for at least an hour. It was the first time I remember having CONVERSATIONS with the Lord. I would write and pour out my heart… and then I would place the pen down and listen. Good stuff. I would wake up every morning excited to sit in our “secret place” on the porch to pray and write.
I thought that the journaling would stop once camp was over… but it couldn’t. It was where I found God. It was where I could say what I was really feeling and thinking – the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. I knew He “heard” me there. So… the journaling continued. Countless verses are written in those books. Many questions have been asked. Many victories have been celebrated. Many prayers have been answered.
I was looking through some of them last night – that’s the cool thing about writing… you can reread the stuff and see all that God has done. I read stories from my first cabin at Pine Cove – made me giggle. I wrote about how the first day the girls arrived, I got dehydrated in the Texas heat, threw up, and had to go to the nurses’ station. I didn’t know if I was even going to be able to be the counselor and be with my girls. I was SO upset! It was cool/funny to see even in the very first week of journaling all the crazy things God did. I did end up getting to be their counselor (I just had to promise to drink lots of H2O), I got to have amazing one-on-ones with each of the girls, I wrote about all the things God did in EACH of their lives, and I saw myself change through each one of the pages… CRAZY!
So… journaling has stuck. I’ve written detailed accounts of my mission trip to the Jamaica Deaf Village, to Kenya with 3 other college ladies, of my wedding day, my intense feeling of UNcomfort when moving to Troy, my prayers for my friends and family, and so much more. I wrote about KNOWING that Jacob would be my husband. I wrote about KNOWING adoption was for us. I wrote about the feelings I felt… knowing I wasn’t made for an office job and my pleads to show me the way. I wrote about friends hurting… and things I didn’t understand. Here’s a snippet from my first day in Troy & a few days after we were married… that I believe God has been ALL over:
Lord, I’m not comfortable here in Troy, and I know you don’t want me to be. You don’t want me to crave or cling to anything else except You and the leader you are making my husband. Rid my heart of the fear I have towards my job, no Knoxville, no school, NEWNESS. My heart is scared. I don’t want comfort, like Jacob prayed, I just want PEACE. I know that comes from you but I have been avoiding you because of my fear. I want You. I want to be more confident in Your plan I know You are good and right. Help my stupid self. I need You so much. Push me on my knees EVERYday when I try to get up. USE ME. Make me vulnerable, even when I don’t want to be… Make me UNCOMFORTABLE!
Terrifying words. They were heard. What a ride so far…
Those pages are treasures to me. They are proof of God working in/through me. Sometimes people won’t believe in God by what you say to them about the Roman Road or the verses you point out to them on the pages of a Bible… but they CANNOT deny my/your personal experiences. They cannot say things didn’t happen. They cannot deny miracles that took place.
All these things were brought up in my heart and my head when, once again, I ran out of lines in one of my journals and was forced to buy a new one. This one will be even more special than the others. This one will be the one in which I write about bringing Eric home. The one in which I cry and rejoice about the struggles of being a mom. The one where stories from mission trips are penned. The one where I am missing Jacob and praying for him as he is leading trips or leading our home while we are apart. This one will be the one where so many prayers and expectations and promises come to fruition. The one full of celebration, remembering, looking ahead, and more TRUSTING. The one filled with daily obedience, figuring out life’s questions, prayers for family – for new nieces, family moving to Africa to serve the Lord, and more.
This journal – filled with blank pages. New opportunities. New stories. SAME PROMISES.
So… I challenge you… try journaling. Write your prayers. Write verses. Write your stories… see what God is doing.