I don’t know about you, but I get distracted easily. One day I was praying for my girls while I looked out the window at the fall leaves swirling. Then I was thinking how I needed to get the girls’ fall clothes out which made me think I needed to look for fall shoes for them. Soon, I was thinking of pumpkin bread and white chicken chili. And, suddenly, I glanced up and couldn’t remember what I was praying for. We can certainly pray Scripture without a prayer journal, but having the physical binder helps me stay focused. (Putting my phone in a different room does too.)
The second thing the prayer journal helps me do is to remember.
And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Joshua 4:20-24
There are seven stone memorials described in the book of Joshua. These served to help the people remember God’s faithfulness, the truth of His Word, His second chances and restoration, His grace, and His covenant with them. Just like the Israelites, we are prone to forget how faithful God is. But just like the stones Joshua set up, our prayer journals can be a testimony to God’s dwelling with us, with our families, within our walls, and in our mission field.
Sometime last year, my daughter, Charlotte, started picking up stones she found at the park, in the parking lot, anywhere really. And she called them her “American robins.” She has a strong imagination, and I have piles of stones all over the place. They are in the console of my minivan, in my makeup bag, even in the silverware drawer. I still don’t understand the connection with American robins, but I love seeing those stones because it reminds me of the stones Joshua collected.
What are stones in a prayer journal? It’s anything that reminds you of God’s faithfulness.
I like to write dates because God is a God of details, and He never ceases to astound me with His timing. I’ve got pictures of important events that show me God’s provision–
– Matt and I on our wedding day and my girls right after they were born.
– I’ve got a purple feather from the day I heard Charlotte screaming hysterically that there was a purple spider in her room that was going to eat her. Finally, my fearless girl had found something she was afraid of. It’s in my binder to remind me that while Lottie might push me to the edge (and some days straight over it), God gave her this feisty spirit for a reason. It’s why we pray Esther 4:14 over her.
– There’s a family picture Lydia drew of all of us with a fourth child, the child for which we have been in the adoption process for four years now.
– There are cards in there from friends who have encouraged me to write the hard things, and there’s a coaster from Pappasito’s in Ft. Worth. I remember two things vividly about that trip–the warm tortillas that come with the fajitas from Pappasito’s and the passion I had speaking to those women about what God was teaching me. It was the first opportunity I had ever had to speak to a group like that, and it was at the invitation of one of my favorite people. I had asked God to give me new opportunities to use my words for His glory, and He was faithful.
My favorite section of my prayer journal is the one called, “My Ministry.” I once heard someone say your greatest pain can become your greatest ministry. I know this firsthand. In this section, I have a list of names of women who are waiting for a baby, for a pregnancy, for an adoption, to hold life in their arms. I know their pain, and that is why I pray fervently for them by name every morning. And beside the list, I have the ultrasounds of our babies in heaven. I beg God for these women because there is an army who begged God for me and because I know God is faithful.
God’s plans and His timing often don’t look like ours, but His faithfulness never wavers.
Everyone has a ministry, someone to lift up in prayer, and usually you don’t have to look any further than your greatest pain.
Do you remember in Part 2 where we talked about the tabernacle being the way God chose to dwell with His people after He brought them out of Egypt and slavery? I couldn’t sleep one night, and I found this verse. It’s what I want to leave you with today.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Psalm 61:2-4