The concept of keeping a prayer journal is not explicitly discussed in the Bible. However, there are some biblical principles that can shed light on the practice of journaling prayers. Here is an overview of what the Bible has to say about prayer and writing that relates to the idea of keeping a prayer journal.
The Purpose of Prayer
The Bible encourages believers to pray regularly and consistently. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray without ceasing.” Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Prayer is meant to be ongoing communication with God where we express our needs, thoughts, thanksgiving, and worship.
A prayer journal can aid this continual prayer life by providing a place to record prayers over time. Seeing previous prayers and God’s answers encourages us to keep praying while waiting on God’s timing (Luke 18:1-8). Recording prayer requests helps us remember to keep praying for them. Overall, a prayer journal supports persisting in prayer as Scripture instructs.
Writing Down Thoughts and Revelations
Though the Bible does not specifically mention prayer journals, it does speak of writing down thoughts and revelations from God. The prophet Habakkuk was told to “write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it” (Habakkuk 2:2). The psalms of David were originally written down. The letters of Paul and John to the early churches were written accounts of their teachings and prayers for the believers. God knew the value of the written word to preserve important messages and prayers.
Journaling prayer can fulfill a similar purpose – preserving a record of our petitions and God’s answers for the future. As we review past journal entries, we can see how God has worked and be encouraged to continue trusting Him, just as the written accounts in the Bible encourage us. Though not commanded, writing down prayers is biblical when done to deepen our walk with God as He leads us.
Remembering God’s Blessings
The Bible frequently exhorts God’s people to remember His blessings and past acts on their behalf. The Psalms are full of praise to God for His goodness remembered. Deuteronomy commands the Israelites to remember God’s acts and miracles as evidence of His sovereignty and faithfulness (Deuteronomy 8:2). By remembering what God has done, His followers grow in faith and gratitude.
A prayer journal preserves records of prayers answered and spiritual milestones. Rereading past journal entries allows us to see patterns of God’s blessings over the years. Remembering specific examples of God’s faithfulness increases our trust in His future promises. In this way, journaling prayers aligns with the biblical theme of remembrance leading to faith.
Examples of Written Prayers in the Bible
Though the Bible does not specifically mention prayer journals as we think of them today, it does contain many examples of prayers that were written down. Here are some instances where written prayers or prayer songs appear in Scripture:
- Many of David’s psalms (Psalm 17, 86, 90, 102, 142)
- Habakkuk’s prayer-poem (Habakkuk 3)
- Hezekiah’s poem after recovering from illness (Isaiah 38:9-20)
- Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish (Jonah 2)
- Hannah’s prayer song rejoicing over Samuel’s birth (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
- Mary’s prayer, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)
- Prayers recorded in heaven in Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4
Though these written prayers were inspired Scripture, they show that written prayers have a long history among God’s people. Journaling our prayers today follows this biblical tradition of preserving prayers in writing.
Benefits of Prayer Journaling
Though keeping a prayer journal is not specifically commanded in the Bible, many believers have found it a helpful spiritual practice for these biblical reasons:
- Focusing thoughts: Writing prayers down helps keep our thoughts focused and organized.
- Applying God’s Word: Journaling helps us reflect on and apply Scripture to our prayers and lives.
- Remembrance: Having a record of past prayers aids us in remembering God’s blessings and faithfulness.
- Encouragement: Reviewing past journal entries and seeing God at work grows our faith.
- Accountability: Written records help keep us accountable to continue praying persistently.
- Expression: Writing down thoughts and prayers can help us better articulate and express ourselves to God.
For these reasons, keeping a prayer journal can be a helpful spiritual discipline even if not explicitly biblical.
Cautions About Prayer Journaling
Prayer journaling can enrich our walk with God, but there are a few cautions to keep in mind to have a biblical approach:
- Don’t let journaling become legalistic rule. Remember prayer itself is the priority.
- Be authentic and honest in journaling, not overly formal or performative.
- Journal for an audience of One – God. Don’t write just to impress others.
- Balance privacy and sharing. Use wisdom in what journal content you share publicly.
- Focus on spiritual growth in understanding, not just word counts or number of entries.
Overall, the concept of a prayer journal is not commanded in Scripture but can be a helpful tool. When kept in balance, journaling can support biblical purposes like remembrance, persistence in prayer, and growth in understanding God’s blessings.
Tips for Starting a Prayer Journal
If you would like to start keeping a prayer journal, here are some tips:
- Set aside a specific notebook or journal to use only for prayer journaling.
- Start by writing down existing prayer requests, worries, and anything on your mind and heart.
- Try to journal prayers at least a few days a week for consistency.
- Date each prayer session and leave space to record later answers.
- Pray before you write, asking the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts.
- Write prayers, reflect on scriptures, journal spiritual insights, and record anything meaningful you feel led to.
- Consider structure like ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication).
- Journal in a conversational style talking honestly with God.
The Word of God does not forbid keeping a prayer journal. When undertaken with the right purpose and balance, prayer journaling can enhance our biblical calling to pray without ceasing, remember God’s blessings, and grow closer to Him through writing down prayers. Approach journaling as a tool for spiritual growth, not a legalistic requirement. Seek God’s guidance about what form of journaling best fits your walk with Him.