So many of us are passionate about prayer. We know its power. We know how it can change the world around us – and change us, too. But it’s not always easy. Especially when it comes to praying for big issues like poverty.
Starting a prayer journal can help make things easier. It’s a great way to get into a habit of praying regularly, focus on particular issues, and also be encouraged as we see how God moves over time.
‘Writing down prayers helps me to reflect on God's faithfulness and goodness,’ says Muna, who works in Tearfund’s Eurasia and North Africa Team. ‘Especially when I see how God answered my prayers.’
Here’s a short step-by-step guide to starting your own prayer journal, and how you can use it to pray for people living in poverty.
Step one – Making space
A good way to make prayer journalling into a habit is to choose a specific time and place to do it. Maybe you have a favourite quiet spot in your home? Or a particular café that you like to go to? Choose a time of day when you know you can have a bit of space to yourself, and won’t be disturbed.
Step two – Get the right tools
Invest in a journal or diary that you know you will enjoy writing in. Perhaps you could have a specific ‘prayer pen’ to go with it! There are free journal templates that you can search for on the internet, or you could even use the notes app on your phone. Whatever you feel is going to make the experience most convenient and enjoyable for you.
Step three – Have a vision
It’s always good to start with ‘why’. What are you hoping to get out of this journal (or put into it)? At the front of your journal, write down your ‘vision statement’. For example: ‘This journal will help me to draw closer to God and to reach out in prayer to people living in poverty.’
‘One of the most important things to keep in mind when praying for people living in poverty is that God loves his children,’ says Lucie N'Guessan, from our West Africa team. ‘And he did not include poverty in his plan for humanity.’
Step four – Start with prayer
Before you write, commit your time to God. Say a quick prayer of thanksgiving and offering. Ask for awareness of God’s presence with you, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your prayers.
Step five – Get into the word
Turn to the Bible to see what God might be saying to you. You could follow a reading plan, or make up your own. As you read a passage, ask God to speak to you through it, particularly with regards to how you can pray for people living in poverty.
Step six – Follow God’s voice in your heart
If you’re unsure what country or issue to begin with, just start with whatever is on your heart. Perhaps there’s a story you’ve seen recently that particularly moved you. If you need more guidance, why not use the prayers for the world that are featured in One Voice in Prayer each week?
Write your prayer and then add anything you feel God leads you to pray for or to focus on as you spend the time with him. Start with that.
‘Start with one sentence,’ says Muna. ‘Keep your journal handy so you are able to write down or draw whenever or whatever you want. And be yourself.’
Step seven – Bless your future self
Make sure that you include answers to prayer in your journal. That way, you’ll be able to look back and see the ways in which God has moved. ‘Just reading through it encourages me that God is at work in my life,’ says Muna.
Step eight – Include and encourage others
If you prefer to pray with others, you could always make prayer journalling a communal activity. Could you keep a prayer journal as a family or small group, with each of you writing in it at different times?
Letting others know that we’re praying, and sharing stories of answered prayer, can be a source of great encouragement. ‘Knowing that so many people are praying for our work gives me the certainty that we are functioning as the body of Christ, where each one of us has an important role,’ says Rosa Camargo Bravo, who leads our Latin America and Caribbean Team. ‘While some pray, others extend our hands to those in need. It gives me confidence that God is guiding and supporting our work.’