I’m doing something old and something new in my spiritual life in 2016.
First, the old. I’ve used a prayer journal to guide and record my prayers for more than a decade. At the start of every year, I rewrite the main prayer request pages of my journal. I have a page for my husband, daughters and sons-in-law (including my grands), extended family, and friends. Sometimes the people I love share things they’d like me to pray specifically for, but I also have a list of good things I pray into my family members’ lives.
I also have a page of prayer requests for myself. Here are some things I ask the Lord for every day:
Lord, help me love you with my whole heart.
Use me as a bold witness for you.
Help me be affectionate and unselfish to my husband.
Give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation so I can know you better.
Help me be wise in my interactions with my adult children and help us have loving relationships.
I have other requests that come and go—speaking ministry opportunities, writing and teaching projects, and needs for inspiration and guidance.
I always conclude my prayer time for myself by praying the prayer of Jabez (1 Chr. 4:10):
“Oh, that you would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory.
That your hand would be with me,
And you would keep me from evil.”
The beauty of a written prayer journal is that it helps me remember everything I want to pray about, gives order and consistency to my prayer time, and provides a place to record God’s answers in response to my requests.
At the end of every year, when I’m rewriting my pages for the upcoming year, I flip through the pages and see the many answers to prayers I’ve received—answers I might have forgotten if I hadn’t written them down. This strengthens my faith and gives me courage and motivation to trust God for new requests in the coming year.
The new practice I’m introducing this year is called a “Blessings Jar.” Like the thankful pages I have in my journal, it’s a place to record God’s blessings, small and great, as they occur. The difference in a blessing jar is that my husband and I will share the joy of counting our blessings. And, unlike my private journal, our blessings jar will contain things for which we’re thankful as a couple.
This simple Mason jar, decorated with a ribbon, will sit in a prominent place in our kitchen. Each night at dinner we’ll reflect on our day. If God gave one (or both) of us a blessing that day, we’ll write it on a slip of paper and place it in the jar.
On December 31, we’ll open the jar and read the entries. It will serve as a powerful reminder of God’s love and care for us throughout the year. I wish I had come across this idea when my children still lived in our home. It would have been a visible, tangible reminder to them of God’s daily interaction in our family.
So, one old discipline and one new one for me in 2016. As you enter 2016, what will you be doing again that you’ve done in years past? And what new will you incorporate into your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and bless us all.
May 2016 be a year filled with God’s goodness.
And if you’d like to read 4 Reasons to Use a Prayer Journal, click here.