When we heighten are awareness that are prayers are indeed answered by keeping a formal journal or log, it can help strengthen our faith. By taking the time to consider how, when and in what form the answers to our abstract prayers take concrete form, our faith may become more certain. Image courtesy of John Hain at www.pixabay.com
I acknowledge and respect that some people choose to have particular spiritual beliefs and others do not. First and foremost, I’d like to stress that in no way by writing this article am I attempting to convince or change anyone’s mind about their beliefs. As it is, my own beliefs although present, as yet fragile, I’m hardly in a position to hopefully be seen to be doing such! However, despite being fragile, I believe they will grow to be stronger and importantly, less subject to change from day to day.
Once, I heard somebody mention he kept ‘a prayer journal’. Of course I wouldn’t give out any particulars due to respect of his privacy. Essentially he kept track of on when and the nature of prayers beseeched. Then, when they were answered, he also wrote down when this was, and how they were answered.
I guess you could say I have been a ‘believer’ most of my life. Yet there are times when I am angry, confused and frustrated. If He was there, then why does the whole thing have to be such a puzzle? Of course, I ask the never-ending “then what is the point to all this suffering?” And, so on.
Yet, there have been many times, that I have been so impressed by the way my prayers were answered, accompanied by a strong and uplifting revelation that ‘this is more than a co-incidence!” However, these have been mental logs, when I have thought either “where is God?” or “Thank You God! I know that was You!” but these have been fleeting, mental thoughts that I haven’t dwelt on. When I write anything down, including the nature of prayers and how they are answered, by taking this extra time, I consistently notice realisations occur to me that wouldn't otherwise. It also has the effect that during the rest of the day, I am more aware of what I have written and new experiences that are relevant to it.
Therefore, it occurred to me the other day to try this more formal “Prayer Journal”. For there are countless times when I am conscious of myself saying “Thank you, God” upon a prayer or need being answered. Or there is the gratitude of finally feeling privately forgiven that has soothed my conscience like balm taking away a sting that otherwise would have continued to smart. (In case I sound like a child keeping a log of if and when Santa bought gifts requested – it’s not the case at all!) As with most people, my prayers are to do with things like relationships, personal growth and the like. (And getting more jobs so I can earn a bit of money – I am no angel!) But seriously, it’s about finding meaning and purpose, like most of us deep down yearn for.
In essence, the haziness of my recollections about the details of my prayers was not doing justice to having faith or a relationship to the Being who can provide life with these desires to regarding purpose for being here, meaning and so on.
With the formal written (actually typed) log I have now started, I can keep a track of concrete answers to abstract prayers…and in what way they were answered. I guess I am sick of swinging between being a ‘believer’ and “I am not so sure kind of person. By actually keeping a log of when and how my prayers were answered, it can become evident of why there was a space of time between when you asked for help and when and how you received it. I become more consistent in my relationship with God, as I make a formal time each day to actually consider in a deeper way how He has helped me.
I feel like I have expressed gratitude properly only when I have written that down.
And it’s only later, when you actually keep a record, can you see a very good reason for this. Perhaps, there is a lesson you need to learn first, something you need to appreciate or know first, before your prayer is answered. But if you keep a written log, it becomes evident that it really is for your benefit.
Also, I should say at this point, that unfortunately this might sound like I am a child asking “Santa” for gifts, and keeping a log of I receive them and when! I want to say that. It just makes everything more real and concrete. And because faith is such an abstract concept, actually giving yourself examples of how prayer has helped you it can help you bring a sense of reality to what otherwise may seem airy-fairy - it can therefore strengthen faith.
Anyway, as I have been keeping a log, during the day I am more aware of prayers being answered, while the process is actually happening. If I forget what I actually prayed for, I tend to forget when and how and that the answers do reveal themselves.
I am becoming aware of the variety of ways prayers are answered. For example, sometimes a circumstance mightn’t change, but how I see it does. And it’s my attitude change that may have a greater beneficial impact than always getting what I want. Or another way of putting it, prayer can make me aware of the positive changes I see within. Or sometimes, my prayers are answered in more concrete ways, and I am taken back by His loving and generous nature.
For example at the beginning of the day, I may pray that feelings of depression go away. And I know this isn’t ‘just me’ because I am hopelessly lazy where exercise is concerned. But before I know it, I am up and ready with my clothes in the morning ready to exercise, when I haven’t responded in such a positive way for 6 months.
If I hadn’t kept a log, those sort of wanted behaviours may have passed unnoticed and the wonderful bestower of these positive changes may have gone unrecognised.
I have only just started a prayer journal. However, I am hoping that it will only continue to have positive effects as far as strengthening my faith goes, and also in helping me to become more of the kind of person I want to be. And it isn’t forced, it’s not like I feel I have to exert all this extra energy.
All God wants is faith. If we were drowning we don’t have to suddenly produce a lifeboat or swim…all we have to do is hold out our hand. So He can hold ours.