Evolution of a Prayer Journal

I’ve been spending more time in my prayer journal this week.  It’s a lot of the same stuff I talked about in previous posts, but now, since discovering the bullet journaling phenomena, I am moving everything over to a composition notebook, for the sake of more effective archival and retrieval.  Also, it is sometimes very difficult to put my thoughts into verbal words, as my mind is prone to wander about and fixate on the next shiny thing that grabs my attention.  Having a lined journal will allow me to wrangle those thoughts all into a hopefully cohesive and coherent prayer, from my heart to God’s…and one day, will be a good way to remember His goodness to me.

Since I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home wife and Grammie, I have extra time in my day for prayer.  I may not always have this opportunity to spend this kind of time in the presence of God, so I want to show my gratitude by doing it well, redeeming the time, so to speak.


From the time I wake, until the time I go to sleep, I want to be in a habit of keeping company with my Lord.  There are several ways I accomplish this, one of which is memorized prayers.  When I wake up and ideally, before my first sip of coffee, I want to give my day to Jesus.  “Good morning, Lord!  I love you.  What do you want to tell me today?”  I put on the coffee, and continue in worship:  “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.”  It’s here that I often see the first thing He wants me to do today…maybe dishes that didn’t get put away the night before, or a load of laundry that needs to be put on…Sometimes I just take mental note, other times, I may jump right in and get it going while the coffee is brewing…but when that coffee is ready…I’m all about the waking up!  I pour a big cuppa, add my favorite sweetener and stir it all up and take it to my prayer spot.  Here, I keep my Bible, my journal(s), special pens/pencils, religious reading material that I’m working through, and prayer aids, such as chaplets and/or rosary.  I say my morning prayers, then make a mental note of the prayers I pray weekly…I have different areas of specific prayers that I have divided up into my seven day week.  This way, I feel I give adequate time and attention to the things I am praying for.  I don’t try to journal much during this time, but just sit and wake up using the prayers and/or prompts that I already have written out.  This gives me time to set my heart and mind on things above, and I find my day goes so much more smoothly this way.  When the parish bells chime at noon, it is a reminder to pray the Angelus.  I don’t have it memorized yet, so I put it in my prayer journal at midday.  I also am developing the habit of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  It plays on our local Catholic radio station every day at 3pm.  I love to sing along, and almost have it memorized.


I have been using the CAST model of prayer for just over a year.  There are things I LOVE about having it in a binder, and there are things that are not working for me.  I am hopeful that keeping a composition notebook with a good index will help me keep the things I love and fix those things that didn’t work.  For the time being, I’m maintaining the one, creating another, and using them both in different ways…and I keep a separate journal for planning my days.  I’m wondering if this will continue, or if I will decide to combine them all somewhere down the road.  We’ll see.  For now, it’s nice just to have some semblance of an organized plan.

You can see in my photo, I try to pray for a lot of different things…these are things that are on my heart often, some days I pray for more than one area, whether I’m on that day or not.  This is just a prayer prompt for those days when I don’t know what to pray.  Eventually, I will have collections and prayers for each category, but for now, it’s just a prompt.  I am also in the process of getting to know the saints, and have given some of my favorites a permanent place in my prayer routine.  I love the thought that I have prayer support from that cloud of witnesses that surround us.  (Hebrews 12)   Isn’t the Body of Christ wonderful?  When we are in Him, and He in us, even physical death cannot sever us from His body, which is the Church.

About that rock wall at the foot of the cross:  I told my sister that some days I feel like the young girl on “Secret Life of Bees” (and if you haven’t seen it, go now, borrow, rent or purchase a copy and watch one of my all-time favorite movies ever).  She is a sensitive soul, and feels her sorrows deeply.  When she is heavy and burdened, she runs to a rock wall on her family’s property, and leaves her sorrows there.  How I need a rock wall…like the wailing wall in Jerusalem…but alas, we are apartment dwellers, :). So, I have the next best thing, a pile of rocks where I can leave my own anxieties, burdens, and sorrows.  It fits with my CAST verses, and now I have them in a handy journal.  I like the thought of seeing them reduced to one little rock in a pile that has been cast off…and somehow, I feel lighter, even just looking at the pile of burdens that I am not carrying anymore.

Well, that’s it for today.  Would love to see your prayer journals and hear how you organize your prayer time.  Blessings.

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Commit

CAST  your burden on the Lordand he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

CAST your anxieties upon the Lord, because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

I’m working on my prayer journal, and have come up with a simple(r) acronym that takes up less space in the binder than my previous ACT before you ASK routine did.

Commit
Adore/Affirm
Supplication/Satisfaction
Trust

There are a lot of C words that could be used for the first letter of my acronym, I’ve pondered on them all week, and they all are credible.  But ultimately, I chose the word Commit, because of these instructions of Sacred Scripture:
Ps 37:5, Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him, and he will act.
Prov 16:3   Commit your work to the Lordand your plans will be established.  

The dictionary defines the word as so:  (dictionary.com)

verb (used with object), committed, committing.
1.  to give in trust or charge; consign.
2.  to consign for preservation:

to commit ideas to writing; to commit a poem to memory.
3.  to pledge (oneself) to a position on an issue or question; express(one’s intention, feeling, etc.):

Asked if he was a candidate, he refused to commit himself.
4.  to bind or obligate, as by pledge or assurance; pledge:

to commit oneself to a promise; to be committed to a course of action.
5.  to entrust, especially for safekeeping; commend:

to commit one’s soul to God.
My definition of commit:  When I say that I am committed to God, it means that I give myself wholly to Him, pledging my heart, mind, and being, obligating myself to be used in His plan as He sees fit, trusting Him to keep me and provide what I need to best be used by Him.This word requires the operation of all the other c words that I considered:
  • Clear consciencePs 139:23 – I pray that the Lord would search me, know me, test me, and show me areas where I have failed to live up to His righteous standard.  I found several guides to making an examination of conscience, and I’ve heard of something called “examen” that I fully intend to look further into.  I made a page in my prayer journal for my examination of conscience.  This is how I do it now, and it seems to be working.
  • Conviction/convincingHe always answers.  Often, even before I ask for His help, I will be reminded in my spirit of  a sin that needs to be confessed, or a habit or part of my personality that needs to be addressed, or I’ll get an insight into an area that He’s at work in, that I’m making progress in, but could do better.  I really like the word “convince” better than “convict”, it brings to mind a mental picture of God’s Holy Spirit reasoning with mine, and bringing me to agreement with His views, instead of the mental picture of a lawbreaker being convicted and sentenced.  Both are accurate, and theologically sound, and believe me, I have heard that gavel slam down in my own convicted spirit more times than I can count, but I also have received the tender reasoning of the Holy Spirit, that quiets the debate in my rebellious spirit, and willingly submits to seeing it His way.  I much prefer the latter, don’t you?
  • Contrition/confession/cleansing – I use Psalm 51 as a prayer guide for this part of my routine.  If you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so…often…especially if you struggle with guilt and shame from sins of your past, or areas where you struggle to gain victory.  It is a beautiful prayer of agreement with God about how He sees sin.  It is a prayer of contrition, repentance, and forgiveness.  It ends with a petition for the ability to praise Him, and teach His ways to others.  This can only happen through a cleansed and consecrated heart.
  • Consecration – this is the act of setting something aside for a specific or particular use.  When we “consecrate” something, we make it “holy”, or we sanctify it.  When we give ourselves to God, He makes us holy, and sets us apart for a specific purpose in His kingdom.  I have a couple favorite prayers I use for giving myself to God.  Some days, I don’t feel I have much to offer, and am reminded that whatever I have or don’t have, I am His, and if he wants to use me wounded and broken, I’m His.  If I’ve experienced his healing hand, or a renewed sense of purpose, it’s for Him, as I have obligated myself to His service.  Alone in my own thoughts, or actively engaged in my parish or community…I belong to Him…it’s up to Him, I’m just the vessel.  Now that He has cleansed me, I ask Him to pour Himself through me.  I pray that others will see Him in me, first in my vocation at home and with my family, and then to my parish family, and neighborhood friends and acquaintances.

I’ve found the secret to casting my burdens, cares, anxieties, and fears on the Lord begins with the recognition that I need Him, I am loved and called by Him, and that I belong to Him.  When I give myself fully to the Lord, to be used as He sees fit, He is faithful to sustain me, just as He promised.