My prayer journal has taken many forms over the years. My recommendation to you is to Start Journaling! Start with whatever you have. If you aren’t satisfied, research so you can refine or change your format. Here are some ideas on different types of journals, how to set them up, and tips to think about.
1. Write out your prayers. Most often my prayer journaling consists of writing out my prayers. I write basically a “Dear God” letter in my daily notebook – a simple, lined journal from Walmart or Books-a-Million. This is the same notebook I use for sermon notes, ideas, quotes, diary-type daily writings, etc. I used to keep a separate journal just for prayers (and that may be the option you like best), but I slowly realized that although I like to organize and separate things into boxes, the different areas of my life blend together and I am more satisfied having it all in one book. That way if God used a sermon to pierce my heart, the next quiet moment I had, I could spill out my prayerful response and these things would be together in one place.
2. Keep a prayer list journal. If you don’t just love to write like I do, consider doing a journal in which you keep an ongoing list of prayer requests and answers. Having a dedicated notebook, or a specific section of a notebook, just for list would work best. In this journal I do less essay praying and more just-the-facts request lists. Just write down the people and needs that you are praying for. Always date your entries, requests and answers. You may want to number or bullet the list. Leave room to write the answer when it comes. You may want to consider writing requests on the left-hand side of the book and leaving the right-hand page blank to jot answers to these prayers as they come. Sometimes answers are shockingly immediate! You realize God was already working out the answer before you prayed your prayer. Other requests will be on your list for 30 years before you see an answer, if you even do in your lifetime. (You may want to check out Etsy or Amazon for a specifically designed Prayer Journal if you have the money.)
3. Use a 3-ring binder with dividers. This is a very organized method using a binder, dividers, and theme paper. It is great for a scheduled 7-days-a-week in-depth prayer list. Set up categories to pray for. Label each tab of your binder with one category or a day of the week. Categories I’ve used for the week:
Church – Sunday
Family & Like Family – Monday
Friends & Intercession – Tuesday
Government – Wednesday
The World – Thursday
Missions/Missionaries – Friday
Praise – Saturday
At other times I have added, Community, Schools, Prayer Group (when I was part of a large prayer group that involved praying for a couple of dozen people), Healing, Salvations, and Church Leaders. This binder idea works well if you have lots of things you’re praying for and limited time. You can pray for a different section of your notebook each day of the week. The idea is to try to use only 7 groups or else have more than 1 topic to pray for under each day of the week.
4. Use an index card box. Another great idea is to use 3×5 cards and a small card box or even blank business cards and a binder to hold them. Categorize or alphabetize requests. I tend to always have a section up front for “Urgent Needs.” Put the request on the front with the date and the answer on the back with the date. Rotate cards to a separate “Answered Prayers” box once they’ve been answered to keep room in the first box, and in order to use the “Answered” box as encouragement and a reminder of what the Lord has done.
5. Write scriptures to pray beside specific prayer requests. When God gives you a specific verse to pray for a promise, or when you come upon a scripture that specifically meets a need you’re praying for, jot it down in the notebook or on the card with the request where you will remember to pray it!
6. The busy mom option. Use a photo book. A small photo album or flip book you can put photos in is a quick prayer reminder. Place in the album photos of people, churches, etc. that you are praying for. Keep it on the kitchen counter, nightstand, or the end table next to where you sit to nurse the baby. Flip through the pictures praying for each person or situation in whatever spare moments you have.
7. Try a paperless Prayer Journal. Apps such as Prayer Notes or Pocket Prayer Pro offer techies and people on the go something that is always with them. Record prayer requests, set reminders, get a system of daily prayer going, all at the tip of you fingers. I haven’t personally tried this form, but would love to hear from someone who has.
The bottom line – PRAY.
Get yourself organized in a way that assists you but doesn’t dominate you.
Remember the goal is not the organization, but praying and growing in our communication with the Lord.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12