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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Forty Ideas to Incorporate or Give Up this Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Today we remember our station, that we are dust, and one day will return to dust.  It’s a time of personal reflection on the passion of Christ, and the imitation of Him.  It’s also a time of intentional resolve to follow the exhortation of Philippians 2, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  The sacrifices we make should be from a heart of obedience, and not for outward show.  In this, we draw near to the heart of God, as obedient children, and have the opportunity to participate in His suffering and death.  The practical application of this participation is denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him. We give up things, attitudes, or bad habits that may have taken a place in our hearts that is reserved only for the Lord.  We put these things aside, and work on developing good habits while we nourish our souls.

If you don’t know what to give up for Lent, I’ve compiled a list of 40 ideas for you to choose from:  If you’e already made your Lenten sacrifice, there’s an idea for each day of Lent for a little extra sacrifice to keep you extra focused.

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, and would love to hear yours.  Feel free to share your Lenten inspirations with me in the comments.

  1. Spend some time developing your prayer life this Lent.  I’m still adding to and organizing my own prayer journal, and working on making better habits.
  2. Give up social media.  So much time is wasted here.  I’ve actually fasted completely in the past.  This year, I’ll be partially fasting, because of work that requires me to be on social media.  My goal is balance, my plan is to abstain from sun up to sun down, then prioritize the time acquired between work, familly, and ministry. I hope to be able to continue this even after Lent is over.
  3. Television.  Turn. It. Off.  Seriously!  We actually are planning to disconnect cable altogether as soon as this billing cycle ends.  What a waste of money and resources.  It’s just a vast wasteland of mind rot.
  4. Replace TV time with reading a good book.
  5. Read Story of A Soul, or if you prefer, listen to it online.
  6. Give up some sleep.  Wake up an hour earlier than usual, or stay up an extra hour before going to sleep.
  7. Replace sleep time with prayer and/or contemplation.
  8. Learn and pray the Divine Office.  It’s online here.
  9. Give up your telephone.  Turn it off for an hour, or an afternoon, or all day.  Let your voicemail pick up important calls and you can return them later.
  10. Make and send a handwritten greeting card or letter.  Don’t you love to get REAL mail?  Give, and you will receive.
  11. Give up laziness.  When you feel like sitting and relaxing, get up and DO something.  Combat laziness with activity…go for a walk, exercise, garden….
  12. Offer up your hobbies.  We enjoy them, but sometimes they take more time than they should, time away from necessary things, even.
  13. Give up worrying and fretting.  Aint’ nobody got time for that!  Replace it with thanksgiving, and allow His peace to fill your soul.
  14. Memorize Philippians 4:6,7
  15. Pray the Rosary.  If you are a baby Catholic (like me) or are just learning the Rosary, it is helpful to listen and pray along with one of the many youtube videos available.  Check it out, and pick your favorite.
  16. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I prefer to sing it.  This is my favorite version right now.
  17. Give up your pride.
  18. Pray the Litany of Humility
  19. Turn off your electricity for a day and meditate on Jesus being the Light of the World.
  20. Pray for those who do not have electricity for refrigeration, cooking, heating/cooling, and etc.
  21. Give up your favorite Alcoholic drink.
  22. Replace your usual alcohol beverage with water while you meditate Jesus’ first miracle.
  23. Give up caffeine (!)  (I have to admit this one is a huge sacrifice for me, I really, really love and appreciate my morning coffee.  If you can’t give it up completely, what about cutting back and limiting yourself to just one cup instead of half a pot?)
  24. Cut out all sugar and carbs and replace them with healthy alternatives.
  25. Give up one meal.  Offer it up and replace the time with a Rosary for world hunger.
  26. Give up meat.  Try some new meatless meals on another day besides the usual Friday fast.
  27. The ever popular “sweets”.  Give up candy, sodas, desserts, etc.
  28. Give up that second helping.  That dinner was good, and you could easily polish off another plate of it?  Resist.  Offer it up.
  29. Give up salt. Experience the absence of salt while you do a topical study on all the times salt is mentioned in the Bible.  You won’t forget it.
  30. Visit a shut-in
  31. Read Thomas A’Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ 
  32. Did you know Thomas A’Kempis has another beautiful work?  I’m reading The Imitation of Mary this Lent, after finding it in our church’s bookstore.  So far, I don’t see a free version online, but Amazon has them if your church bookstore doesn’t.
  33. Give up your inclination to anger.  When you feel it rising, offer it up, and and look for an opportunity to exercise your compassion.
  34. Memorize Colossians 3:8-13
  35. Give up grumbling and complaining, replace it with thanksgiving.  This requires you to think before you speak, a worthy habit to develop!
  36. Memorize Philippians 2:12-16
  37. Give up shopping for 40 days.  Learn to be content and make do with what’s on hand.
  38. Memorize Hebrews 13:1-6
  39. Give up procrastinating.  Whatever it is you’re putting off, do it, so you can get it done!  You’re not getting any younger.
  40. Memorize Ephesians 5:14-17 — in fact, if you’ve got serious penance in mind, memorize the whole chapter.  It is RICH, isn’t it?