Fresh out of high school, I found myself anxious about heading off to college. My worries were typical of an 18-year old: studies, social life and tuition. The usual.
But in the middle of packing, in a rare and wonderful moment of self-reflection, I took a break to jot down each worry and possible solutions. It was a do-it-yourself counseling session with the adult-me talking to the child-me. Then I prayed through the whole thing. I've hung on to that piece of notebook paper and when I'm rummaging through stuff back home and run across it, I end up misty-eyed but so grateful.
Sorry to say, I made only one such list during those years. I wish I had made a list each year, maybe every semester. How nice it would be now to have a look into my heart at 21-years of age, to know what was I thinking, how was I praying as a college senior, for instance, when I agreed to teach in Australia for two years.
It's never too late to start though. In recent years, I've been jotting down my prayers, pen to paper. It may have started when I got serious about serving in Russia, 1996 or so. And during my years in Rostov-on-Don, I've kept up the habit, writing a prayer journal. A page or two here, five pages there. . . and over the years, that adds up to a stack of journals.
I like to list 10 blessings of the last day or two but find that it's easier if I go in reverse order and think of three blessings of the evening, then three of earlier in the day, then three of the morning and soon there's more then 10. And with each item I'll add a request or two. The writing, the communication, the prayer has been so useful, a way to verbalize my thanksgiving, my requests, my needs. And a way to chronicle what on earth I'm stewing about, smiling about, dreaming of.
The exercise of writing prayers keeps me focused. Otherwise I get distracted and start filing my nails or daydreaming. Best of all, it helps me look back and see how God has been at work in my life. Now that's powerful ammunition when the Enemy whispers in my ear, trying to persuade me that my prayers go no higher than the ceiling.
It's amazing how time absolutely flies during this. Just 5-8 minutes on each item and soon there's 30 minutes or an hour gone. I like to think of it as an hour invested.
Consider keeping a journal in which you list blessings. Let it expand to include prayer requests. I've found keeping a prayer journal a boost to my spiritual life. It serves as a monument to where I've been, where I am and where I would hope to go in my walk with the good Lord.
How about you dear blog reader. If you are a pray-er, have you ever written your prayers? Or, what tips do you have for developing a life of prayer?