I’ll never forget my friend, Leesa, plopping herself down beside me on the church pew the Sunday morning after I had shared my structured prayer journal with her. Along with a bright smile, she flashed me a view of one of her pages, and said, “God answers prayer! Who knew?” We both laughed in agreement because her sentiment is no doubt shared by many.
Until I began structured prayer journaling, I thought the same thing. Oh, I would have never admitted that to anyone, but, truly I was unsure. Even if He did answer prayers, I was certain of this—the answer was often No. I don’t believe that I am alone in this thought. Just look up the antonyms for prayer on Thesaurus.com and see the word answer listed. Had I felt He was a God of Yes, I am sure I would have noticed this, and been much more inclined to confidently state that God did indeed answer my prayers. However, this had not been my experience, or so I thought.
It was Albert Einstein who said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” The point is that I really had nothing to show for my prayer life. Of course, I was randomly pitching things up to God, and in return felt that I was getting nothing back. My prayer life was random, which yielded me little.
In 2001, God changed all of that. Either He felt I had had enough or maybe He had from my pitiful prayer practices. In a matter of just a few short weeks I began to feel strongly that I should create a worksheet with ten compartments for recording short prayer prompts to aid my prayer life. I also added scripture to pray along with my entries. Once it was complete, I was on my way to a personal prayer revival that immediately taught me three things.
The first thing I realized was that prayer journaling brings things from the spiritual realm into my visual presence where I can physically see the hand of God moving in my prayer life. And if He is moving in my prayer life then that means that he is moving in my life. That was a revelation. Think about how many times God instructs people of faith to “write this down.” The things I am experiencing spiritually are not apparent to others. I can speak about them; yet, only few will hear, and more than likely forget, including myself over time. But, if I write something down, I can view it over and over.
Viewing my conversations with God brings permanence and clarity like nothing else.
Secondly, I have received a surprising bonus—the blessing of realizing that God says Yes more than He says No. Feel free to test Him in this. Within my first week of structured prayer journaling, I was ashamedly surprised that I was able to record answers to my prayers. The number of Yeses delighted my soul. From this, the words or Psalm 56:9 became my new reality.
“Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.”
God is for me. I can now see this, and even when an answer is No. On more than one occasion can I refer back to a No that has since turned into a Yes. Additionally, I do believe that becoming a student of my prayer life through the continual examination of my structured prayer journal has helped me pray with right motives.
Lastly, an organized and structured prayer life is a productive prayer life. When I became the director of women’s ministry of my church, I quickly learned that participation can be increased with organization and structure. As church leaders, we are mistaken to believe that people do not want to live missionally. The culprit is crazy-busy lives. By and large, if God’s people are left to themselves to step out and do, they often won’t. That is why the spiritual gifts of leadership and administration are important to a church. Once structure and organization are in place, believers can accomplish both mission and ministry projects together.
Prayer is much the same way. My disorganized, random attempts at prayer were not only one-sided, but they were also unable to demonstrate my Heavenly Father’s love and wisdom. By recording, updating and detailing His movement, my organization honored God’s participation in my life.
I cannot imagine my prayer life without structured prayer journaling. I literally would not be able to spiritually see what God is doing. The Prayer Closet Organizer, which is housed inside Organizing Your Prayer Closet, neatly brings things from the spiritual realm in our visual presence, faithfully showcases God’s wisdom and readily keeps our minds clear for prayer.
God does indeed answer prayer, and everyone can experience His goodness.
Gina Duke, author of Organizing Your Prayer Closet, is a direct, point-on speaker and Bible teacher. With educational degrees in Organizational Leadership and Ministry, as well as fifteen years of leading women’s conferences, Gina provides a combination of expertise for uncluttering the busy Christian’s life. She is the director of Women’s Ministry at her church, hosts a short radio segment called “A Moment of Clarity,” and frequently hosts prayer journaling workshops. She and her family live in Portland, Tennessee.