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Prayer

How to start a prayer journal

7.25.2023

Ten years ago, I created a prayer journal with a monthly format that has helped thousands of people clear the distractions and find the focus to cultivate deeper prayer lives!

One of the reasons I think this journal has been so effective is because it’s actually SUSTAINABLE! You can fill out the sections once at the beginning of the month and pull out your journal for the next 30 days. There are no daily pages or pressure to write every day. If you’re a perfectionist like me, it’s easy to not even attempt some things if you don’t have a lot of time to do it all the way, so being able to pull out your journal if you only have a few minutes just might be the ticket!

So how do I actually get started with a prayer journal?

How to start a prayer journal by Valerie Woerner, prayer, prayer journal, prayer life, how to pray

1. PURCHASE A PRAYER JOURNAL

If you haven’t already, head to our shop to pick out your prayer journal. We have a few options to choose from, but if you’ve never had a prayer journal before, we recommend checking out our 6-month undated Compose Journal. This journal includes prompts for 6 months so that you can develop a habit or prayer. If you like space for journaling along with the monthly prompts, the Signature Journal would be another great option for you!

2. SCHEDULE TIME TO FILL IT OUT ONCE A MONTH

This sounds basic but if we don’t plan time ahead, our monthly prep can get squeezed out by the seemingly more urgent things. If you make time for this one day each month, you’ll set yourself up for success the other 30 days. Set aside 30-60 minutes and sit down to make it happen! We also suggest marking the time in your calendar or setting an alarm in your phone for a certain day each month to protect this time. Some people also arrange time with their spouse for an hour at a coffee shop or get together with their roommates to set up their journals. 

3. GATHER RESOURCES

Some good things to have on hand are:

  • Bible or Bible app
  • Bible study journal
  • Phone (you’ll see why later!)
  • Current books you’re reading
  • Planner and/or goals for the month
  • Post-its, highlighters and even stickers if you want to dress things up

4. PRAY BEFORE YOU GET STARTED

Our team also likes to take some time before sitting down to fill out their journals to pray through where God might be leading them over the upcoming month. That could look like a short walk to clear your mind or spending some time in Scripture.

The beauty of this journal is having everything laid out clearly that you want to pray for that month but we want to make sure to do this prayerfully. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you and to put aside any desires that don’t align with God’s will. Reading Scripture before can be helpful too.

5. FILL OUT YOUR JOURNAL

Check out this journal prep video or read through suggestions for each prompt below.

Adoration

We suggest picking a single name or characteristic of God to focus on in your adoration section. Include a definition or example verse to meditate on or pray back to God as well. If you’re on Instagram, we highly recommend following Sara Hagerty for daily adoration inspiration.

Scripture

For your Scripture section, think of a “prayer-starter” to put here. Something that you can pray word-for-word or just gets your mind in the right place for prayer. Look at your Bible or Bible study journal for anything that’s been standing out to you lately!

The Challenge

We added this section to give you fresh motivation for your prayer life each month. What is one way you can challenge yourself in your prayer life for the next 30 days?

Some examples are:

  • Set my journal open each evening so it’s ready in the AM.
  • Write out my prayers 1x/week.
  • Memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18.
  • Pray through one section a day.
  • Read a few pages of a book on prayer each evening.
  • Pray for 15 minutes a day.
  • Take my prayer journal in the car.

World & Nation

We start our requests with this section for a reason! Before I started using these journals I focused on prayers for myself. This reminds me how big the world is, takes my focus off me and sets my focus on how big my God is.

I usually keep a line or two open in case anything happens throughout the month that I want to make sure to pray for.

To fill this section out, I’ll think about charities or missionaries that we support. You can also pick one country that you have ties to. Maybe it’s a friend who’s a missionary there, a place in the news or where your adopted child is from. Read a bit about it on Operation World and pick a few things to pray for.

Write down any stories in the news that you have felt extra burdened for. Do not get overwhelmed. Just pick one or two things and focus on lifting them up for the month.

My Community & Church

Use this section to pray for your community and your local church. I like to pray for my neighborhood, opportunities to share the Lord and non-profits in my town. When praying over your church, you can pray for the pastoral staff, finances, marriages, and upcoming programs. If you are in a small group, you might also include prayers here for the people in your group.

My Loves

If you’re using your My Loves section for your husband and/or kids, start by asking what they need prayer for over the next month. You might also use books like Power of a Praying Wife or Power of a Praying Mom to give you fresh insight into the kinds of things you can be praying for your family.

Some single ladies like to use this section to pray for their future mate. Here’s an article with some ideas on how to pray for a future spouse!

For anyone not married and not feeling called to that, we love seeing this section used for those passions in your life or your ministry!

How to start a prayer journal by Valerie Woerner, prayer, prayer journal, prayer life, how to prayMy Family / Sweet Friends

This is where your phone comes in handy! Shoot these people a quick text and ask what you can be praying for this month. We’ve seen people use the “question box” on Instagram to do this as well! Make sure to pay close attention when you’re with these people in person. A prayer need may reveal itself in casual conversation. I recently wrote a blog post on how we can best impact our friends’ lives through prayer, if you want support in this area.

These requests can start to add up, but instead of getting overwhelmed by not being able to help, entrust those needs to the one who CAN. Here are some ways to pray creatively for your friends!

Salvation

A big part of prayer is joining God in His mission for the world. When it comes to this section, that’s exactly what you’re doing! Jot down the initials of a few friends or family members that need to know Christ. Don’t get stuck just praying for them though – also ask the Lord how YOU can act. Not sure who to write down here? Check out this blog post!

The Heavy

This section is for forgiving hurts and loving the hard to love. Spend a minute in prayer about who / what you need to write in these blanks. You might be afraid about what the Lord will reveal to you, but press into those hard places in pursuit of healing. Having trouble with forgiveness? Click here.

Personal / Goals

When you come to this section, remember that God cares for your everyday needs. He cares for the big things and the really small things. Nothing you bring to Him will case Him to say “Keep that to yourself and just bring me…” He wants it all!

What do you feel that you need most right now? It might be a friend, some rest, wisdom on a decision. Bring those desires to Him, with hands open for His answer. Write those things down.

Ask God questions. The ones we recommend are: What do you want to grow in me / my family / my work next?

And 4 things that are always on my list? Joy in Christ, Peace in Christ, Energy / Rest, and Flexibility

Other ideas for your personal section are:

  • Areas where you want to grow
  • Events/trips happening that month (pull out your planner here!)
  • Fears or worries

You might use your Big Goals section to consistently pray over your life or yearly goals. Or if you update your goals periodically, this section might change monthly. Don’t be intimidated by this section and feel like it needs to be anything grand. Sometimes my BIG goal is to simply deepen my passion for the Lord!

Part of praying for my goals is actually surrendering them and asking God to do His will. Be open to your needs and goals shifting and changing as you pray for them. The Lord might have something different (and better!) in mind.

Ever feel like praying for yourself and your goals is selfish? Click here to read why it’s not!

Blank Sections

If there is anything you WISHED we had a section for, this is your opportunity to customize your journal! Use this page to expand on a section that needs more lines or even add more Scripture here! I normally have one section to pray for my business, another for all those people I’ve said “I’ll be praying for you!” so that I really mean it, and I’ve also had sections for friends trying to conceive or friends that are missionaries.

Another one of our favorite ideas is to keep one of these sections for lessons from your current reads (whether books or Scripture) that you want to pray about and live out!

Click here to see a whole list of ideas on how to use the blank sections that YOU sent in!

For more ideas on the Adoration / Scripture sections, check out this blog post!

6. PICK A TIME & PLACE TO PRAY

Now that you’ve filled out your prayer journal for the month, choose a time and place when and where you can commit to praying. It doesn’t do us any good to go through the prep work if we’re not going to follow through and actually pray! We like to pray through one section of our journals every day so it’s not too overwhelming. You also don’t have to pray at the same time every day – do what works for your life and rhythms! Maybe that means you pray in the car on the way to work a few days, and then you prop up your journal in your kitchen on the weekends so it’s always out as a reminder to pray.

A few other places that might help you find time to pray: 

  • Having your journal out in your bathroom while you’re getting ready for the day
  • Setting the journal on top of your stroller on a walk
  • In those slow moments when you’re tempted to pull out your phone at home or at a coffee shop

How to start a prayer journal by Valerie Woerner, prayer, prayer journal, prayer life, how to pray7. COME BACK & REFLECT ON YOUR PRAYERS

At the end of each month, there is a section for Answered Prayers in your journal. As you notice things answered throughout the month, write them down here. Some things may not be black and white. Don’t discount the ways that you see God working, even if they’re not exactly what you expected!

Take some time to look back on your requests every few months or at the end of the year. As you remember how God worked, they have the ability to increase your faith and in turn, keep you praying!

8. DON’T WORRY IF YOU MISS A MONTH…OR TWO OR THREE OR…

I’m the girl who used to rewrite my grocery list if it looked too messy. I’m the girl who spent a good 10 minutes bummed that my pretty notebook got water on it and the result was waterlogged pages and smeared ink. 😔  So I get it! We can write off a tool if we didn’t use it “the right way”. But here’s your permission slip if you need one. You can start fresh even with a half-used journal. You don’t need one from our current collection. Dust off the one you bought two years ago and just start!

If you’re ready to start a prayer habit, mark your calendar for Spiral Pre-Orders on August 9th, when we release our new Signature Journals and Rhythms (yearly) Journals for 2024! 

If you’re ready to try out a journal now, shop our summer sale and grab a journal for 30% off!

How to start a prayer journal by Valerie Woerner, prayer, prayer journal, prayer life, how to pray

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