“All I know is that when I pray, coincidences happen; and when I don’t pray, they don’t happen”.
This poignant, amusing quote is attributed to Dan Hayes. I have no idea who he is or where I heard it from, but I like it.
Prayer is powerful and changes things. I know this sounds so cliche, but I have been a Christian since I was 20 years old, and prayed from the beginning. However, I wouldn’t say I was very consistent about it most of that time. Over the last six years or so I have developed better spiritual habits, although I must confess that I still fall so short. It’s a journey.
A number of people have asked me to share what has been working for me.
So this is what I do every morning before I get up.
- After waking up with a cup of coffee and writing things in my planner, I then…
- Read the Bible (even if it is just a little bit). The last few years I have been praying through the psalms, so I usually pray through one, then…
- I refer to my Bible/Prayer Journal and add to it as needed…
- Praying and meditating as I go.
First, You Need to Obtain a Fabulous, Inspiring Journal
This is really important, in my opinion, because you are going to be holding it every day. It should feel good in your hands; it should appeal to your senses. The one I bought this year was inexpensive and beautiful and has a Vincent Van Gogh cover. It is 8.5″ X 6″, and has about 150 pages. The prior 3 journals have been close to this size.
Then You Need to Set Your Journal Up
This may take some time in the beginning. Give yourself permission to do it gradually. Below I share what mine has morphed into over the past few years and what is currently working well for me. I share it to give you ideas rather than as a model.
How I Set Up My Journal
Mine keeps evolving, but the following is how I have set up mine this year. It is similar to last year’s journal, with just some minor changes, but quite a bit different from several years ago.
- “Anchors” are in the first few pages. Briefly, Anchors are a handful of Bible verses that ground me in the calm and stormy seas of life. Right now I have ten of them; three years ago I had six. So, I only added four in 3 years. I write the verses out, not just give the Bible reference. In case you are interested, here are the ten: Psalm 1:3, Psalm 37:3-4, Philippians 4:4-8, Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 2:3-4, Colossians 3:12-17, Philippians 4:1-13, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, and all of Psalm 23. These diverse verses provide a grounding and a focus, helping me stay on track.
“Affirmations & Exhortations”, which I fondly call my A & E’s, are in the back few pages. They are quotes from others, short Bible verses, and quotes that I have made up that I can latch onto at the beginning of the day, to address a certain lacking I may feel or provide an encouragement I might need. Currently, I have 29 A & E’s. Usually, I just scan them each morning to see which 1 or 2 best fits for the day. Here are a few examples: “Consistency carves canyons” by Sachin Patel, “Finish STRONG!”, “Trust God and just roll with it.”, “Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the now. In each moment joy and things to be thankful for can be found.”, “I can do hard things; I have done them before.” (these 4 are by me), and “Therefore, we have as our ambition to be pleasing to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:9” (NASB). They all are pregnant with meaning to me. This list has grown a lot.
- “Goals & Dreams” for 2021 – This page follows the Anchors pages. Pretty self-explanatory.
- Right after Goals & Dreams are Family & Friends pages for each immediate family group (I have six children who are all married, so I have a page for each of their families and one for my husband). Then there are pages for extended family, a page listing my friends, a page for missionaries/ministers/ministries I support, and a page for people at my church. Some of these pages just list names, others have room for specific prayers.
- Two-Page Month Spread comes next and will be throughout the journal as each month occurs. On the left side is JANUARY, for instance. Here I different titles of categories I write under, things like 33*6*7 (code for my immediate family, my extended family, and my husband’s extended family), my church, my outside place of employment, the USA, Health/Healing (for people who are sick), and my health coaching and Beautycounter businesses. Stuff like that. Under those categories, I write prayer needs for this particular month. On the right side, I title it “Pinion Prayers for January”. More detail about this page below.
- Next is the 3rd Page for that month. 3rd page is a catch-all for other prayers/prayer requests that come up during that month or pertain to that month specifically.
- Throughout the journal – As they come up, are pages dedicated to special events or problems or decisions that need to be made. These are things that I want to address in-depth. For example, for a Sister’s Trip that is coming up (something my 3 sisters and I have been doing the last few years), I list prayer requests like good weather, safe travels, no one will get sick, etc.
- The rest – Bible verses that particularly strike me or a special prayer need or a praise I have that certain day. Or sometimes words to an inspirational song or a poem. Maybe even a little art, stickers, or cut-out pictures. Or a page devoted to what I am thankful/grateful for. I include whatever seems remindful, beautiful, or inspiring. For instance, in 2018’s journal I glued in a scrap of a dirty envelope. Reason? My husband had put an envelope with $800 on top of our car at the beach, then we drove off. Yep. When we reached our hotel 15 miles away he realized what he had done. My sister, her husband, my husband, and I all prayed before he took off to go see if, by chance, he could find any of the money. When he got to the spot there was nothing. But as he slowly started driving back to the hotel, about 400 yards down Highway 101, he spotted an envelope in the middle of the road. Our envelope. It looked like it had been run over a few times, but all the money was there. So, I try to remember to include reminders like this in my prayer journal. I also include spiritual things I am grappling with. Like I wanted to love others better so I wrote down a ton of Bible verses about love.
- Year in Review at the end, but before the A & E’s of course. Just a page or so summary of the past year. Pretty self-explanatory.
This all is just how I use a Bible/Prayer journal now and can perhaps be a springboard for you to consider how you can set up a journal. The important thing is to do something that will facilitate developing the spiritual habit of praying more. And of course, reading the Bible, which goes hand in hand.
Pinion Prayers explained. This is a little quirky, but I love the concept and I mustered up enough courage to share it. Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may take refuge”. Pinions is referring to an eagle’s feathers. So I have this picture in my mind that when I pray I am running under the protection of God’s giant wings. Stay with me. Then when I add others to what I pray for myself I see myself grabbing their hands and pulling them under with me. And there we crouch all safe and protected under God’s wings.
Bible reading and prayer are crucial to spiritual health, and yet, we often find that we do not give them the time and attention that we need. Sending this with prayers that the Lord will show you how to seek Him more. Many blessings ~
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