I love prayer journals. You may have guessed that about me. Writing has always come more naturally to me than speaking out loud. I process my thoughts better on the page. Preferably in cursive but that has more to do with a kid that is still learning cursive that also enjoys snooping through my texts and instagram feed. If she’s going to be in my business she may as well learn while she is at it!
I have been keeping a prayer journal since high school (on and off - I’m not perfect). When I originally started journaling my prayers it was for two reasons. The first, at the time I was part of a Southern Baptist church and Southern Baptist girls with perfectionist personalities do what they are told. Second, for me praying through journaling was tremendously easier. I know that is not the case for everyone, but it was a fit for me. I’m so glad God didn’t give us just one way to pray.
Over the years, my prayer journals have become my own personal testimonies of God at work. I’ve found that people can try to debate the truth of the Bible with me, but no one can dispute where I personally have seen God work in my life. Seeing prayer requests answered (in various ways) throughout time gives me confidence in my faith. Being able to look back and make sense of some hard things and see God’s work in my life gives me reassurance when it isn’t easy to see Him at work presently. I love seeing how and where God threaded together different pieces of my life. Recently, while looking through a journal from high school I discovered a simple one line prayer for someone I didn’t really know, “bless the pregnant woman who helps lead worship.” Years after that prayer, that woman became my sister-in-law and that baby my oldest niece. I didn’t know her or her brother personally at the time (which is evident because I shortened her name in my prayer and never in my time of knowing her has anyone ever called her by that). Just a prayer of blessing for someone who was blessing the church. Now that baby is grown - a 2020 graduate - and a blessing to my own kids. God is neat.
The LORD is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. - Psalm 145:17 (NLT)
My current Bible plan has me in the book of Exodus. It has been kind of a weird but interesting time to be reading this book with everything happening in 2020. In the book of Exodus, before the 8th plague (locusts), God has his pregame powwow with Moses before sending Moses back to Pharaoh again.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.” - Exodus 10:1-2 (ESV)
There is a lot to unpack there. Hardened hearts. Slavery. Plagues. God’s deliverance and judgment. There is a whole lot to process and digest in Exodus and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately! The words in this verse that stood out to me in this reading were show and tell. When I read it, I thought about the childhood school practice of show and tell. How as a kid you are so excited when it is your turn to bring something to share to show and tell your classmates about. The imagery of God’s signs, wonders and movements in our life being the show and our responsibility in being the tell for our children and their children. See, I think because we have a written history of God’s moving in the Bible, we think that sharing the Bible with them is all we need to do. I love the Bible, truly I do. I am so grateful for the gift of God’s Word and for the freedoms we have to own, read and preach from it. That being said, there is something special about hearing first hand what God has done. God didn’t stop moving and working in our lives when the last word of the Bible was written.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8 (ESV)
In the New Testament, in the book of Mark chapter 5 we see another game of show and tell. This time, Jesus is walking among us performing the miracles. A man tormented by many demons immediately approaches Jesus as he steps out of a boat. This guy had it rough. I’m going to be honest, from the description in Mark 5, if I had been there I would have been scared and hiding behind Jesus...or casually making my way back to the boat.
He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. - Mark 5:3-5 (ESV)
Cliff notes version, the man RUNS to Jesus and falls at His feet. Poor man has many evil spirits that beg Jesus to enter into a herd of pigs. Jesus permits it, the spirits enter the herd of pigs (about 2,000! wha-aaaat?!). The herd of pigs then rush into the sea and drown. Herdsman witnesses flee to the city because who just sits on that story, and people start coming to the scene to see for themselves. They arrive to find Jesus and the formerly demon-possessed man sitting there, “clothed and in his right mind.” The people freak out and ask Jesus to leave. As Jesus is getting on the boat the man who had been demon possessed begs to go with Jesus.
And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. - Mark 5:19-20 (ESV)
Jesus didn’t say, now that you are healed, go tell everyone you know about Passover. He said “tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” The works of old are important, but so are the works of today.
Many years ago, after my husband’s grandmother passed away, his family found notebooks filled with prayers from his grandmother. At the time, I was a girlfriend not a wife so I have no idea what all they said. That wasn’t really what interested me. What interested me was the notebooks themselves and how they expressed what she cared about the most. How they could read her words and prayers for her family when she wasn’t there to speak them anymore. There are many things that I’m not proud of and some I would rather no one read. Once or twice I’ve considered having someone set fire to my journals after I’m gone. Other times, I think I’m sure King David doesn’t love that all of history knows his biggest mistakes. What a gift these journals might be for that nosey kid reading my texts. For her to know I’m human, to see the good and bad and the journey in my walk with Christ. For my children and their children to see in times that they cannot see, that God never left me and that God will never leave them.
Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. - Joel 1:3 (ESV)
Are you a fan of journaling? Is this practice something that comes natural to you or something that feels like work? If you hate the idea of journaling, what are some ways that you have found to remember the things God has done for you?