Prayer Journal: Thanksgiving Tab


The last couple years, I have participated in “Thankful Thursdays” on facebook.  This is an area that I have come to firmly believe is necessary for joy, and an attribute that I want to develop into my quirky personality.

Thanksgiving is the key to a joyful and contented heart.  How often I lose my key.  Do you do this?  Seriously, I know this works, I’ve seen it in action…yet I forget to be thankful, and am frustrated at my lack of joy.   I want to have a joyful, contented heart; how easy it is to slip into envy and discontent if the door of our minds are locked to the joy that thankfulness brings.

Since I already have a naturally optimistic bent, you would expect that thankfulness would come easy for me.

Yeah.  Not.

While I am naturally optimistic by nature, I also am terribly idealistic, and I expect things to work out like I envision they should.

Yup.  One of those.

Much of the time, with effort on my part, I can make things happen.  But obviously, not all the time.  I am bitterly disappointed when things fall short of my ideal, and I tend to fall (as Anne of Green Gables would say) into the depths of despair.  How easy it is to slip into the devil’s trap of comparison, envy and discontent when the door of my mind is locked to joy.

There is a reason that I choose thankfulness to follow contrition and confession in my quiet time routine.  After the confession portion of my prayer time, I tend to still be a little bit raw.  Really, this should not be surprising, after all, I’ve just examined myself, and admitted my sinful thoughts, actions, intentions and omissions; that is, those things I’ve done and failed to do that have offended my Father.  I’ve brought it all to Him, offered it up, and asked him to forgive me, and now…well…like I said;  I feel a little bit raw.  So, as I remind myself of His precious promises of forgiveness and restoration, and experience the grace that He pours through my broken heart, I begin to praise Him for:


  • Answered Prayer – Those petitions I have brought before His throne, favors granted, and His provision, including those things that He has withheld from me, or things for which He has chosen to make me wait while continuing to ask.  This part of my prayer time is a real hurdle while I’m suffering with my disappointment and impatience, but it is so necessary, for me, in developing the ability to follow Ephesians 5:20.
  • His mercy that is new every morning – that is, His sparing me from the ultimate penalty of sin, and His faithful, steadfast love through the years. (Ps 25:6, Lam 3:23).
  • Who He is – going back to adoration, and incorporating thankfulness…reminding myself again of the attributes of God, and thanking Him for all that He is to me, for me, and with me. (1 Cor 16:29, Ps. 34:7)
  • My loved ones – family, friends, spiritual leaders, etc. (Eph 1:6)
  • His grace and the indwelling of His Spirit that frees me from sin’s bondage.  Because of His grace, I am not enslaved to sin.  I have the choice to do what is right, and experience victory through Jesus Christ, my Lord.  (1 Cor 15:57)
  • The presence of His Spirit with me. I know He is with me when I experience the fruit of His Spirit in my life.  I continue to pray that my life produces the fruit, evidencing that I am His child, and He lives and reigns in me…by faith…so that everything I do can be done in His Name and for His glory. (Col 3:17)

Thanksgiving does not come naturally, it has to be cultivated!  Because I need frequent reminders of the importance of being thankful, the back of my divider is filled with Scripture reminders of the importance of developing thankfulness with an acronym of sorts of the word “gratitude”.  I have tried to keep these verses at the top of my memory, as I work on this attribute…or rather, as I allow the Lord to develop this attribute in my life.  I don’t have them all memorized, but reading through them in my quiet time has cemented their truths into my routine, and I like to think they are there for when I need them.  As I’m giving thanks, I try to write something down in this section, so that on my down days, when it’s difficult to think of something to be thankful for (I can be a big baby, did I tell you that already?), there is a list of things that I can remember and thank God again.  This is an act of obedience for me, so sometimes I need a little prompt….this totally works!

Act before you Ask
Adoration Tab
Confession/Contrition Tab





Psalm 5, as prayed by me tonight

Lord, do you hear my words?  Are you paying attention to my sighing?  In the quiet hours of the morning, I am begging you, my King and my God, to acknowledge the sound of my cries when I plead my case to you.  I continue to wait expectantly for your answer.

I know that you are not a God who tolerates unrighteousness, and the evil one cannot live and walk with you.  You hate all evildoers, and the boastful cannot stand in your sight, neither those who are dishonest, deceitful or those who are bent on destruction.

But because of your steadfast love, I am welcomed into your house, and in awe of you, I bow down toward your holy temple.

Continue to lead me in your righteousness and make your will and your way clear to me, for the sake of my enemies…because there is no truth in their mouths, and they are full of destructive plans.  Their throats are open graves, and their words are filled with empty promises and flattery.  Make them bear their guilt, Lord; Use their own words of advice to trip them up and make them fall.  They are rebelling against you, Lord.  Their sins have separated them from you, and they are cast away from your presence.

But, let me, and everyone who takes refuge in you be filled with joyful songs forever, as we rejoice in You.  Spread out your mighty arm of protection over us, so that we who love you may celebrate and delight in You.  Because you bless the righteous, Lord, and you protect them with your kind assistance, as with a shield.

Prayer Journal – Our Father

9 Pray then like this:  First, how not to pray…now, the instruction of how rather to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven, — I love that God is not just Jesus’ Father…and he’s not just my Father…but our Father.  I am not an only child here!  I have a huge family unit consisting of brothers and sisters, spanning the globe and the ages.  We are one big family!  “Father” is a personal, intimate term.  It indicates a family relationship, of favor, love, nurturing and protection.  We might not have the best example in our earthly fathers, but everything that we would expect and respect in our own earthly daddy, God is to us, and infinitely more.  In fact, He sets the bar for earthly fathers, even the best daddy in this world will fall short of the excellency of our Heavenly Father.

Hallowed be thy name.

God’s name and very essence is “hallowed” which means holy, or consecrated (set apart…above all) sacred, or revered  (I’d be getting WAY AHEAD of myself here if I took you on the bunny trail of the word sanctification…we’ll get to it in a bit, I promise).  While we are not the ones doing the “hallowing”, by observing and understanding the holy, sacred nature of God’s Name, we participate in an act of worship to Our Father, God.  It is  the first step in adoration, that is, recognizing  and reverencing Him for who He is, apart from what He’s done/is doing. By the way, if you’ve never done a personal study on the names of God, you are missing out on some wonderful heart knowledge.  I love the thought of incorporating God’s names and attributes into my prayers, but often my mind goes blank and I can’t bring them to mind.  Having a list handy during my prayer time would be helpful, so I decided to devote one page of my prayer journal to the attributes of God, and another to the names that are recorded of His.

Our Father_Hallowed Names_Attributes

This was a lofty plan, I found as I began a crash course on the attributes/names of God, using this site.    Wow.  I knew there was not enough room on my page to list them all (further proof that our God cannot and will not be contained).  I finally just chose the ones that are relevant to me where I am on my journey today.  Eventually, I plan to do an in-depth study of the names of God, I’ll write the Hebrew name on one side of an open page, and the English meaning on the other.  For now, because of limited space, I gave myself permission to write only the English meaning of the Hebrew name.  Since God is both perfect and multilingual, I figure He’s okay with me not butchering the Hebrew when calling on Him.

What about you?   Do you find it helpful to focus you attention on His attributes when you address Him by name?  What are the names/attributes of God that you focus on when you pray?

TipUnfortunately, even with the pages doubled, my marker bled through to the opening page of my journal.  To prevent this, on future pages, I illustrated first (with an index card underneath the page(s)  I’m coloring), then glued when finished.

Let Thy Kingdom Come

His Prayer For Us – (Part 1)

John chapter 17 is a record of Jesus’ prayer for us.  He has already taught his disciples how they ought to pray, and here he is, walking the walk, showing us what it looks like.  This passage is packed, so to try to do it justice, it will be separated into three separate posts.  We’ll start with the first three verses, and work our way through as we go.

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,  since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

I’ve heard it said that a text without context is a pretext.  Because this passage begins with “After Jesus had spoken these words”, I think it’s important to go back to the previous chapter to see what He said that preceded this prayer.  This is for the purpose of developing context…

Well, John chapter 16 also begins with a similar statement “I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling…”

What things?  Turn back to John 15….in fact…keep going…back to chapter 13.  I see this as the beginning of the context for chapter 17 to make the best sense.  (Really, the whole book of John starting with chapter one would be the best context.   I feel like Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride “Let me ‘splain…no, takes too long…let me sum up”)

So, to sum up:

John 13 — Jesus, before breaking bread at the Last Supper, washes His disciples’ feet, and begins briefing them on things to come, starting with His betrayal, and ending with the foretelling of Peter’s denial.  In between though, there is this little passage, prefaced by talk of “being glorified”, and “glorifying the Father”.  Here Jesus lovingly prepares his “little children” for his departure, and gives them a “new commandment”; to prove to the world that they are his followers, they are commanded to love one another.

John 14 — after warning of his betrayal, Jesus prepares His disciples for his departure to a place where they couldn’t follow yet, then foretells of Peter’s denial.  Jesus tells the disciples to not let their hearts be troubled, and encourages them with thoughts of heaven, saying that they already know the way to where He’s going.   Thomas and Phillip don’t get it  (bless their hearts…I’m so glad they had the courage to ask…aren’t you?),  and Jesus explains that He is the way, and the truth and the life, and claims to be one with the Father and talks some more about “glorifying the Father”.  He gives more instructions about love (this time it’s not about loving one another, but about how we prove that we love Him…as He shows that He loves the father by obedience to His commands), promises the disciples a coming “Helper”, “Advocate”, and “Teacher”, and gives a little blessing on peace.

John 15 — As they walk and talk, Jesus uses a vine and branches to teach us (the branches) what abiding in Him, (The Vine) looks like.  Here we get a mini-lesson on vine husbandry…removing dead branches, and pruning productive ones so that they will produce more.  We also get more instruction on “glorifying God”, obedience, joy, and what love looks like.  The end of this chapter is a contrast between God and the world.  If we love God, and follow Him, it will cause the world to hate us.  He comforts us with the knowledge that we aren’t greater than our master, and the world hated him first…and He reminds them that the Advocate will be with them, and they are to testify on behalf of the Spirit, as the Spirit testifies of Him.

John 16 — Back to “these things” that Jesus told them to keep them from stumbling:  I believe He was talking about all the things he had told them in the previous chapters…the things that we summed up by looking back to chapters 13-15 (or the whole of the book of John, if you’ve decided to do it right).  His words of encouragement, comfort, and warning will keep them from stumbling when they are thrown out of the synagogue, or when those who truly believe they are following God will kill them.  He reminds them that the reason He is telling them now, is so that they remember His words when these persecutions occur, because He will not be present to remind them.  He gives more instruction on the coming presence of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate and the work He will accomplish, before He bewilders the still clueless disciples with more talk of their coming sorrow and pain at His departure, but offers them peace because even though in the world they will face persecution, He reminds them that He has overcome the world.

So…that is the “summing up” of chapters 13-16 to set the context for Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in  chapter 17.

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father…” — We’ve already developed context to what we are about to learn…now, we see Him look up to heaven, and address His Father…just like He taught the disciples to do when they pray.  (“Say, “our Father, who is in heaven...”)

the hour has come; – what hour?  This one…the one that Jesus, has been warning the disciples, and preparing them for is here.  He knows at this point that the time of his suffering and death is close at hand, and recognizes it in prayer to His Father.  There is something about verbalizing knowledge that brings clarity and acceptance to a situation.  We can “know” something in an abstract way, but when we can verbalize it, it becomes concrete and real.  I see that here.

glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, — Here it is.  The first request in Jesus’ prayer is that He will be glorified, so that He may bring glory to the Father.

since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. — Recognizing that He has authority over all people given to Him, He prays to give eternal life to all who are given to Him by the Father.

And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. —  Jesus defines his term, “eternal life”.  I don’t know if it’s proper exegesis here, but I like to think He wasn’t just talking about life everlasting with Him in heaven, but also for the abundant life that He said in John 10:10 He came to give us while we are here on earth.

I’ve read and studied this passage too many times to remember and count, but until beginning this study, I  had never noticed that Jesus refers to Himself in the third person in the first three verses, and then switches to the first person for the remainder of His prayer.  Maybe it’s just me, but while reading this passage over numerous times, and meditating on it after I shut off the computer and close my eyes, it’s plain as day, and hard for a grammar nerd to easily dismiss.  I keep thinking about the past four chapters where Jesus has talked about sending the Holy Spirit who will testify of Him, and wonder if there is a connection to Jesus’ referral to Himself in the third person.  Could this be our first glimpse of the Holy Spirit doing just that…testifying of Him?  Are we witnessing a Holy Trinity Conference of sorts, where Jesus, who is in God, and God in Him…with the Spirit bearing witness of Him and His work, all praying together?  I don’t know, but I do find it fascinating…and very thought provoking.

Here are links to commentaries on these verses, in case you are interested:

John Rittenbaugh from Forerunner commentary on John 17:3

Ray Stedman on The Longest Prayer