Use these simple steps with prompts, tips, and templates to learn how to start a prayer journal to deepen your relationship with the Lord.
Why Should You Start A Prayer Journal?
No prayer is ever wasted and you certainly don’t need a prayer journal to talk to God (that’s a free gift given to all of us!) but I have found it so incredibly helpful in my own prayer life.
I struggle with wandering thoughts, long-winded rabbit trails, and all sorts of other distractions (squirrel!) when I’m praying in my head. Even with the best of intentions, my “quiet time” with the Lord turns into a wild goose chase where I end up making grocery lists because I thought of a last-minute addition and scrolling through Facebook because I picked up my phone to look up a Bible verse.
When I write down my thoughts, it helps me:
- stay focused on what I really want to talk to God about.
- feel more connected to Him as I write. When my thoughts are bouncing around, it’s tough to feel deeply connected to Jesus. When I’m setting things aside to journal, I can more easily quiet my thoughts and fix my eyes on Him.
- process my thoughts and feelings more fully.
- record my story – my thoughts, feelings, circumstances, struggles, and victories. It’s so helpful to be able to look back on where I’ve been and what God has brought me through and see how many prayers He has answered along the way. I can’t wait to share these with my son as he grows up to tell him all about God’s faithfulness in our lives!
How To Start Your Prayer Journal
Step 1 – Pick Your Journal & Supplies
Don’t feel like you have to do anything fancy or expensive. The most important part of prayer journaling is doing it.
I like the disc-bound journal because I can:
- Lay it flat. This one is a big deal to me. With notebooks, I always chose spiral bound because anything else would flop closed on me while I was writing, which drove me nuts. This one seamlessly stays open for me while I write!
- Add/remove/rearrange pages in my journal (even if they aren’t the same size as the notebook). I like to be able to add meaningful things like printed pages, Bible verses on index cards, Bible studies, postcards, invitations, prayer lists, and sermon notes to the same notebook. (I use the TUL discbound hole punch to add printed pages).
- Fold over onto itself, taking up less space. I don’t need a full desk space to lay out the entire splayed-out journal. Just like a spiral journal, it folds over (and the discs don’t get in the way nearly as much as a 3-ring binder).
- Use more space on each page for writing. The disc holes don’t extend far into the page, which gives me more room to write.
Any pen or pencil and paper will do, but, after trying just about every pen and pencil out there, I’ve found pens I really love. I prefer really fine lines in my writing so I usually use these ultra-fine black Pilot pens for most of my writing.
When I want to add a splash of color, I pull out my set of Staedtler Fineliner pens.
Step 2 – Pick Your Prayer Journaling Template
You are welcome to include whatever sections in your personal prayer journal as you’d like, but I highly recommend using my Prayer Journal Bundle. It’s what I use myself and it’s done-for-you and ready to print to start using in your quiet times ASAP.
If you are just starting out with prayer journaling, don’t overcomplicate things. Writing even one sentence a day can start a wonderful habit! Pick a few sections you’re most drawn to, start there, and add or take them away as you’d like.
I’ve found that certain sections are more useful in certain seasons. When I’m struggling with my identity and confidence in Christ, I make sure to include daily reminders of my identity in Christ. In other seasons, I focus more on the names of God.
Here are some suggestions for sections to include:
- Date – This is really helpful for flipping back and seeing how God has transformed you over time – I always forget dates unless they’re written down!
- Gratitude/Answered Prayers/Praise – There are so many benefits to starting your day with thankfulness in your heart and in your prayer journal. It’s a wonderful way to recognize God working in your life and experience more peace, joy, and contentment. If you get stuck, I have 31 gratitude journal prompts here that can help get your creative juices flowing.
- Confession – I haven’t seen many prayer journals include this section and I’m not entirely sure why because confessing our sins and asking for His forgiveness is such an important part of connecting with God.
- Bible verses – Obviously, having God’s Word as a part of your prayer time is important! Choosing to fix your mind on the Truth is so valuable. If you’re not sure where to start, I have lists of Bible verses on all kinds of topics you can look through to find something that fits what you’re going through right now.
- Prayer Requests – I like to keep a daily list of prayer requests that are on my heart at that moment, as well as ongoing lists of prayer requests that are more long-term (like for missionaries, Compassion International children we support, healing, our nation, etc). I included both ongoing and daily lists in the Prayer Journal Bundle.
- Your Identity In Christ – If you are struggling with low self-confidence or low self-esteem, this is a wonderful section to include. I include over 30 examples of your identity in Christ in the journaling bundle, but you can also use these Bible Verses on your identity to write your own.
- Characteristics of God/Names of God – Knowing who you are is important but knowing who God is is even more important. Learning the names of God has been so good for me to learn more about God’s character and learning to recognize His voice.
- Emotions Check-In – I’m a big feeler so this is always a very important section for me. Some days it’s a quick word or two and sometimes it’s paragraphs of my processing my feelings with the Lord.
- Journal Prompts – Feeling stuck and not really sure what to write about? Pre-written journal prompts can be really helpful in getting your thoughts rolling. I have 10 journal prompts for your quiet time here that you’re welcome to print and use for yourself.
- Space To Share – Give yourself space just to share your thoughts and feelings with God. Sometimes I write words, sometimes I draw pictures that come to mind, and sometimes I draw lyrics to hymns or worship songs on my mind – anything that makes you feel connected to the Lord.
- Space to Listen – Remember that conversations are two-sided (I mention it because I often forget!), so don’t forget to leave space for you to listen to the Lord and write down anything you hear from Him. If you want to learn more about the idea of listening to the Lord, a previous pastor wrote a very inspiring book called “More” on the topic that really helped deepen my own relationship with God.
Please don’t feel like you need to include all of those at once! All of the suggestions above are sections I’ve included in my prayer journal in one season of my life or another, but never all at the same time.
Step 3 – Pick A Daily Prayer Journaling Time
Please, don’t skip this step.
If prayer journaling is new for you, it takes intentionality to start a new habit. It’s so easy to go through your day like normal, climb into bed, and then realize – “Eek! I meant to journal, but forgot!” We are creatures of habit and it’s so easy to do!
Tips For Creating A New Habit
1. Pick a time that works well for your schedule.
I highly recommend first thing in the morning to start your day off on the right foot, but there are seasons of life that don’t make that very easy (when I had a newborn, I didn’t even know what time “first thing in the morning” meant and first-morning naptime worked much better during those months!).
I like to allocate at least 20 minutes to really give myself time for my thoughts to stop racing and to really dig into some deep conversation with the Lord, but start where you are! Even 5 minutes is a great investment into your relationship with God.
2. Set a reminder alarm.
When you’re starting a new habit of any kind, it’s hard to remember to do that new thing, even when we have the best of intentions, because it’s out of your routine.
I like to set an alarm on my phone to go off at the time I picked as an extra reminder to help me follow through on my good intentions.
3. Pair your new habit with an established habit.
Will you do your prayer journaling while you drink your morning coffee? After your workout? Before breakfast? after your alarm goes off? Right after dropping your kids off at school?
Connecting this new habit of prayer journaling with something you already do regularly is just another way to help you build this new habit into your life long-term.
4. Consistency is better than perfection.
Practice, practice, practice. Try your best to sit down with your prayer journal every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Give yourself grace that you won’t always have the “perfect” quiet times. Something is always better than nothing and the more consistent you are, the more this habit of prayer journaling will just feel like part of your normal life.
And that’s the goal! Connecting with the Lord should be a regular, consistent habit – in every season, in every emotion, in every schedule change.
It is one of the very best ways to stay rooted in His Word and in His love, looking at life with faith eyes.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Step 4 – Start Journaling!
That’s all there is to it! You have your materials, you have a basic structure for your time with sample journal prompts…now, all there is left to do is write!
On my best days, I love to create a calm environment for myself to prayer journal – a candle, some instrumental worship music, a clean space to write (sometimes outdoors if it’s nice!).
But please don’t think that’s a prerequisite for prayer journaling! You’re going to have imperfect days. Some days in this season of my life, I’m journaling two words at a time sitting in a pile of Legos with a bouncy, chatty toddler. You can adapt prayer journaling to fit into any season of your life!
Prayer journaling consistently is so much more important than journaling perfectly.
Embrace your current season and allow yourself the flexibility to make it work for you. The goal is to get in the habit of connecting with the Lord and deepening your relationship with Him, no matter what that looks like specifically for you.
Happy prayer journaling!