I used to journal my prayers. I had a nice composition book, a great pen, and I was ready to go. And for a season, it worked.
What’s great about journaling prayers is that it gave me accountability. I could always go back and see which days I’d prayed as part of my quiet time, and even see what I’d been praying about.
It was also helpful to have a record of what I prayed for, something tangable to look back at and see how God had answered.
The Journaling Got in the Way
Pretty soon, the writer in me took over. I stopped praying from my heart because I knew I’d look back at what I’d written.
I slowed down my scribbles to make them more readable in the future, and kept losing my train of thought.
While my pen went forward with the prayer, my eyes scanned what I’d already written- was there a better word choice? Could I arrange that sentence better? Does that order make sense? I was editing my prayers, and no longer really praying. The habit was getting in the way of the relationship.
Oh, I’m sure God heard my prayers. And I know he met me where I was and goodness he answered so many of those prayers. But there came a day where I had to stop journaling if my relationship with God was going to move forward.
So I Stopped Journaling
I stopped recording my words so I could relax and be genuine. And when I stopped journaling, I felt closer to God. There was now no longer paper and pen between us, no formality or ritual. It was just Jesus and me, talking. And it was beautiful.
These days, I do a little bit of both. To an extent, writing while praying keeps me focused. I just have to keep an eye on myself to notice when it’s becoming a distraction rather than a help. Tools are great so long as they are helpful. The second they get in the way, throw them out. So, some days I journal. Some days I write bullet points. And some days I forgo pen and paper entirely.
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