Today, I am so excited to share my heart with you on the topic of prayer! I’m a storyteller, so I’ll start with a brief story of how God called me to start journaling my prayers, and then I’ll give you some useful lessons, and a FREE “Prayer Journaling Guide” PDF. Praying my words can help you along your prayer journey!
The Prayer that Changed My Life
In my experience, if you pray for a sign and God gives one, then it’s probably in your best interest to listen and act accordingly!
If you’ve read my previous blog posts, then you already know I had a little bit of a rocky past. Nothing too bad by the world’s standards, just your typical college girl making the best of her sorority days.
Little did I know, however, God was about to change all that.
I’d been dating a guy for a while – [if you’re keeping up with my life timeline through my blog posts, then this is the guy right after Andrew broke up with me and told me I was selfish, lol.] – and around October I started seriously asking myself if this guy was really the guy for me.
Here’s a little piece of advice…if you’ve been questioning whether someone is the right person for you for a while, chances are, they are probably are not. (That one’s free, next time I’ll have to charge ya!)
There had been several signs that he most likely wasn’t my person, but like any smart college girl, I decided to ignore said signs.
Several Sunday’s in a row, I would get myself ready and then drag my boyfriend to church with me. I, of course, thought he would thank me afterward for helping him do something he didn’t realize he needed so desperately. I just knew that in no time at all we’d be that super cute camp counselor type couple that everyone would adore! Unfortunately, quite the opposite happened.
One Sunday, my boyfriend finally admitted, “Helen, I know that I should want to go to church, but I just don’t want to right now.” Kudos for your honesty boyfriend, but boo on you for crushing my church popularity dreams. Needless to say, that was our last Sunday together.
A few months later, I walked out of church on Halloween day and decided to go back to my apartment rather than hang out with my boyfriend over at his place as per usual. Throughout the church service, I kept having this weird feeling that I needed to talk to God about things. It had been years since I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart that profoundly, so I knew I needed to listen…even if I didn’t fully know how.
Once I was home, I sat on my couch in silence for a while, trying to decern what exactly I was supposed to do. I finally landed on the decision to pray. The only problem was, I wasn’t sure what the right way of doing that was. I hadn’t been spending time with God lately, so I didn’t know the proper way to converse with Him. You know those dinners where with an old friend where you start talking and it’s like you picked up right where you left off?! Ya, this was the opposite.
I tried to get the conversation going by awkwardly talking out loud and sheepishly looking up at the ceiling. Starting and then restarted fragments of sentences, it seemed as if I had forgotten how to connect words together. I got a few fragmented “Christian-y” sounded sentences out before I finally stopped and said, “Ok, God. I don’t really know how to pray the right way, so here’s what’s up. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be with this guy or not. Am I supposed to help him find you, or am I supposed to move on without him? I don’t really know what to do, but I feel like you’re kind of calling me back or something. So I think I’m finally at a point that, if you give me a VERY CLEAR sign, I’ll listen to your direction and won’t look back…Um, Amen.”
I obediently waited and listened in silence…Kidding, I totally fell asleep. But after about 30 min, I woke up to a loud *DING* of my iPhone. I opened my boyfriend’s text and read, “I’ve been cheating on you.”
Come on. No guy just decides to tell you that minutes after you ask God to show you if they’re the one or not. Say what you want, but I knew at that moment God had directed him to send that text as my sign to get the heck out of that relationship!
I dropped my phone like it was a snake, and felt an explosive surge of fear surge through my body. I suddenly realized – God was real, He’d been listening, and even worse…He’d been watching.
I imagine in the moments following, I reacted very much like Adam and Eve did when they disobeyed God. I immediately felt exposed and naked. I started trying to hide under pillows. I’m not kidding. I literally tried to pile pillows on top of myself to hide from the all knowing, all seeing God. But, just like Adam and Eve, I had to give up the hiding act and face my God who already knew where I was and what I’d been doing.
First things First, I immediately broke up with that boyfriend. As in made the call and ended it right then.
You know that feeling of regret when you break up with someone and you start questioning if you did the right thing? Didn’t get it. Not once, ever. Not because I’m so tough, but because if God showed me that obvious of a sign, I wasn’t gonna dare look back!
After breaking up with ole boy, I fell to the floor lying face down and cried. No words escaped my lips because they weren’t necessary. I felt my heart expressing everything on a much deeper level to my Heavenly Father. It was such a deep remorse for my actions over the years that I couldn’t begin to put it into words. For the first time, I could feel the Holy Spirit setting up shop within me to begin the process of making me whole.
It would be the start of a long journey.
Learning to Pray
Over time, God would change the condition of my heart and prove to me that I was a new creation in Him. It didn’t just happen on its own, it took time and the building of a relationship between us.
How do we build relationships here on earth?
Well, Communication Theories would affirm that we build relationships through self-disclosure…aka..talking to each other. Sharing stories, thoughts, and experiences preferably on a daily basis.
I knew I had to start communicating with God on a regular basis; but as I mentioned before, my confidence was pretty shot as to how to do that.
I’m a pretty ADD kid (I don’t say that lightly. I’ve truly struggled with it for years), and so I knew I needed some kind of format to follow in order to keep my attention. So I decided, while getting started, I’d journal my prayers. Having no idea this was a thing people do, I began sitting down each day writing out my prayers [sometimes for hours at a time].
(Quick Note: I do believe we should be continuously communicating with God via prayer throughout the day! Prayer Journaling is, on the other hand, more so a tool to help us pause and spend dedicated time building our relationship and listening to what God has to say.)
After 2 years of journaling, I finally created a system for myself and defined what I felt was important about prayer. I researched scholarly articles on prayer to make sure I was things on target with what the Bible said, but after that, I kept it authentic to God’s and my relationship.
Prayer Journaling has made such an amazing impact on my walk with Christ. Not to mention, I love looking back and seeing how much I’ve grown and how much God has done.
If you’ve struggled with prayer, or feel like you’ve never really tried prayer journaling, then hopefully the two takeaways I’ve included below can help!
First, I’ve listed a few lessons God has taught me over the years concerning prayer. Second, you’ll find a “Prayer Journaling Guide” PDF I created to assist you with journaling your prayers! I’ve included my own examples and space for you to practice! I hope you’ll find both takeaways useful in helping you strengthen your relationship with the One who loves you the most.
Lessons on Prayer:
- Prayer requires a humble heart and a thankful spirit.
- Prayer should not be based solely on receiving.
- Like any good relationship, it requires more listening to speaking on my part.
- If I want to be close to God, I have to be willing to be completely open with Him.
- Prayer is a balance of praise, repentance, petition, stillness, and thankfulness.
- It doesn’t require beautiful wordage, it requires being genuine.
- Let go of perfect. There is a time and place for organized formal prayer.
- Talk to God like He’s your best friend.
Prayer Journaling Guide PDF
Helen Elizabeth Speaks – Prayer Journaling Guide
(**Be sure to download the free PDF! I hope helps you grow closer to God as it did for me! Love you, friend!)
Praying for you today and always.
Love in Christ,
4 thoughts on “A Guide to Prayer Journaling: Discovering a Relational Approach”
Oh Helen.. I’m tearing up. I’ve been a Christian for years, but I stopped praying to God about a month ago because I sinned… a few times.. on purpose. Nothing terribly bad, but I did things I knew He had already talked to me about and had asked me to stop. Just like you describe in your blog, I hid myself away because I was so embarrassed… and have been for weeks. Adam and Eve, I really feel your pain. How in the world was I going to face Him? It was just during these difficult moments of inner turmoil that I found your blog in my Inbox today. Could it be He was reaching out to me through your precious words? I’ve never journaled my prayers before, only kept a little list of requests. Yet, while reading I sensed He might be asking me to do this. I need to finally get real and stop running. So… I’m going to print out your PDF guide right now and prayerfully take time with it (and Him) tonight… even though I have nervous butterflies Thank you for being so honest with us and for having this place where we can be honest, too. Always remember, you are so appreciated by your Sisters-in-Christ. Much love, friend 🙂
Patricia, I’m SO proud of you for doing this! The conviction you feel means you do have a true relationship with God! I know how it feels to want to hide especially when you keep doing those same things you know God’s calling you to stop doing. But to encourage you, we’re all weak. We all mess up. God just wants you back! Praying you have found peace with God since writing this post! Love and prayers being sent your way. You can do this! Thank you for sharing your heart and encouraging me so much! This will always be a place of honesty! Love you sister!
Thank you so much for this post. I’m struggling with something very heavy in my life and know in my heart I need to strengthen my relationship with God. I’ve never truly given Him my whole heart, nor stayed consistent in prayer to maintain a relationship with Him. I’ve always given up. And I truly don’t want to this time. This problem I’m going through is making me cling to God more than ever. I felt the urge to search for your name and contact information and ask you for prayer – and the first post I see is this one and it truly spoke to me. If I may ask, please keep me and my husband in your prayers. Thank you so much, and thank you for this beautiful uplifting post.
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Tory, Thank you so much for sharing your heart! I absolutely will keep you and your husband in my prayers! I’m so sorry you’re going through this tough time, but I’m so proud of you for wanting to cling to God the whole way through it! It’s the only way we can ever get through our trials. Saying a prayer for you now! Don’t give up!