Guide For How To Start A Prayer Journal

Keeping a prayer journal is a great way to nurture the habit of prayer, and a powerful tool for remembering all of the people and different things to pray for, along with tracking answered prayer. 

I never knew just how to start a prayer journal, although I had tried keeping track of prayers for years. Each time I got hung up on the basic elements and the how-to’s, and quit because I felt I wasn’t doing it perfectly. All the while I was forgetting that the actual praying was really the main point. 

Because of my problem with overthinking along with a little bit of perfectionism,  I’ve put together this collection of tips that I’ve learned about how to start a prayer journal. These tips are what I have learned to depend on for a number of years for helping me with the process of prayer, keeping a written record of what to pray and what I have prayed for, and seeing the spiritual growth that has come out of keeping a simple prayer journal. 

How I Got Started With Prayer Journaling

One of the things that used to intimidate me about keeping a prayer journal, is that I often felt like I was just not getting it right in some way. This perfectionistic attitude used to make me feel guilty, and I hate to admit that I sometimes even avoided praying because of it. 

I used to buy pretty notebooks or journals, and start to write down what I prayed for…and then when it wasn’t just perfect I would become discouraged. I had the greatest of intentions, but would become overwhelmed with the details, thinking: “My writing isn’t neat enough.”; “Am I remembering to pray for everything?”; “Am I repeating the same prayer requests day after day?”; “Am I spending too little time in prayer?”. 

As a result, my prayer life suffered literally for years. You see, I was going about it the wrong way, making it all about the details rather than using it as a tool to simply record and track my conversations with God. My high expectations were too much to maintain. I was trying to do it all myself and I was getting in the way of my own feeble attempts. 

However I had always loved the idea of keeping a prayer journal as a way of tracking my prayers, so I persisted in finding the right prayer notebook to enhance my prayer time and make it a quiet time of conversation with God rather than a contest to see how perfect I could be in my attempts. 

Through the years I’ve learned that using a prayer journal isn’t about any of the details that used to de-rail me. Prayer is one of the best parts of our relationship with God, a wonderful way to keep in close touch with our heavenly Father. 

To learn more about prayer, read 10 Reasons Why Prayer Is Important In Our Daily Lives

How To Start A Prayer Journal

You’ll be journalling your prayers in no time with this quick step-by-step list. If you need a format, you’ll find several free printable prayer journal pages at the bottom of the post. Remember that there are no set rules for using a prayer journal, so be careful not to become legalistic.

1. Decide What To Pray About

Do this by sitting quietly and thinking about the most urgent prayer needs you know of. Then, think from near to far, starting with yourself and your closest loved ones. Then go outward to those you are associated with in other ways, such as people in your church or your workplace. Continue to those you know of who have needs, such as your community, or those you know who have asked for prayers. Extend to leaders and government, from local to national, to worldwide. Then keep going to include missionaries and people in other countries and even places that your heart feels drawn to. 

2. Write

Write down general or specific prayer reminders or requests. Don’t worry about any particular order.

3. Talk To God

This is what praying is. Tell Him about what you’ve written in your journal, but don’t feel that you can’t ask questions or pray about other things that come to mind. Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings things to mind as we pray, so we must be open to His leading.

4. Repeat

Do this daily or as often as you are led. God loves it when we talk to Him, so He doesn’t mind persistent prayers at all.

5. Log The Answers

When you see a prayer that’s been answered, write it down in a prayer journal section just for the answers you see given. Seeing answered prayer and remembering it, is a strong faith-builder. This has been the thing that has made the most difference for me in keeping my prayer journal. 

6. Express Gratitude

After you’ve got your prayer journal going, this step may move to number one. Expressing our thanks to God is a part of the whole prayer process and should be done for many reasons throughout our prayers. Whether our gratitude is in response to an answered prayer or for something else, we should constantly dwell on the good things God has done. 

(To read more about expressing gratitude, you can read The Power Of Gratitude: 20 Quotes That Inspire Thankfulness or Being Grateful In The Every Day.)

Look To The Bible For Prayer Journaling Ideas

Some of the specific prayers in the Bible are great examples of conversational prayer, which is really what talking to God is all about.

  • Probably the most common prayer in the Bible is Jesus’ prayer that He taught His disciples. The different sections of the Lord’s Prayer give us a beautiful example of a prayer journaling pattern. The Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4. There are also many very good books written on the Lord’s Prayer that you could refer to if you’d like to read more about it.  
  • If you are praying continually, like we are instructed to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, then you will be praying as the need arises, not trying to remember it at a certain time or place. Doing this will incorporate prayer into all of the different parts of your day, as you live a life of prayer. Sometimes, you just need to call out to God in urgency or send Him a quick whisper of prayer or thanksgiving. You may at times have an opportunity to pray for and with those who need immediate prayer. If you do this, I assure you, that person will always treasure the memory.
  • David and the other authors of the Psalms composed and prayed many prayers that can be utilized for the practice of Biblical prayer. The Psalms are prayers written in many different situations, from joyful to terribly distressing. They don’t all follow the same model, but if you will notice, many of the psalmists were calling out to God in desperation, and these prayers often conclude with the author beautifully coming to terms with God’s goodness and power. Because they expressed their deepest feelings to the Lord of the Universe, they often received peace, calm, and a new attitude. Now, that’s beautiful praying!
  • One of my favorite books of the Bible is Nehemiah. What stands out to me in Nehemiah are the short and quickly uttered prayers he prayed, which I like to refer to as “breath prayers”. Some examples of these breath prayers are as follows:

(For a more thorough study of Nehemiah, read Praying At All Times: Lessons From Nehemiah.)

Effective Prayer Journaling

 As I have learned more about keeping a personal journal for my prayers, I have become much less obsessive over the details and more absorbed with my conversations with God. Over time I found different ways of using my journal. Here are some suggestions:

  • Pray about everything – Don’t get hung up on what to pray for. Just pray about everything. As Philippians 4:6 tells us: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ” (CSB)
  • Be specific in your prayer journaling. Nehemiah or the psalmists could have simply said, “God, be with me!” and God would have known exactly what they needed. But they were specific, sometimes gruesomely so, asking God to do or accomplish a certain thing. And that’s ok. In faith, we can have an unspoken agreement with God that when He has something better than our solution, we’ll take His – every time. 
  • Use Bible verses in Your Prayer Journal. Praying Scripture is a beautiful way of connecting directly with God. The Bible is His inspired Word and He means every word of it. So, in praying God’s Word back to Him, He knows we are serious about what He has said. 
  • Track unanswered prayer requests and repeat them often. Unanswered prayers can weigh on us, and God doesn’t mind if we unload the same requests over and over onto Him. Ephesians 6:18 says “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (NLT)
  • Incorporate quiet time for listening into your prayer routine. God wants to hear from us, but He also has things to say to our hearts. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a washing over of peace where you didn’t have peace before. Other times, the Holy Spirit prompts us with something else to pray for or shows us a different direction to take in our requests. You can’t know what He’s whispering if you’re not listening for that still, small, voice. I have heard many stories about a person getting a prodding from God to pray for a certain thing that they may not know a thing about, later to find out that God worked out their prayer mightily in someone’s (even a stranger’s) life. 
  • Write in your style. You can write out your prayers in paragraph form, or use simple bullet points or lists. It’s all between you and God, so you can do your own thing. If you are an artist or a sticker or washi tape person, incorporate these in your prayer journaling. If you use a bullet journal, adding one or more prayer journal sections to your current journal would be a great addition. You can use anything to record your prayers, from a handmade journal made with scrapbook paper to a regular composition notebook or a 3-ring binder to a digital prayer journal. 

Free Printable Prayer Journal Designs

I’ve made two different designs of a prayer journal page for you. Feel free to use them in whatever way works best. You can print in multiples to place in a binder. Or download to your computer and upload either of these designs to an app such as Goodnotes or any other digital notepad.

To download your choice of these prayer journal pages, just click on the photo of your choice. You’ll be able to download the PDF file right away. 

free printable prayer journal
free printable prayer journal - New Day Of Simplicity

I want to encourage you – whatever you do, pray! God promises in the Bible that He will answer our prayers and tell us things we could not have known on our own. He says: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

I really want to hear how you’re doing at starting and keeping your prayer journal. Let me know if you have any suggestions for additions or changes that would make this prayer journal template more useful for you. 

More posts you might like about prayer:

Examples Of Intercessory Prayers In The Bible

Encouraging Stories And Bible Verses About Answered Prayer

Five Calming Prayers For Sleep

how to start a prayer journal - new day of simplicity

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