Doing This Every Day Will Boost Your Prayer Life

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What do you do when you need clarity on something you’ve been praying about?

I can easily fall into the pattern of overthinking. But when I’m trying to work through a problem or figure out what to do, thinking about it endlessly is damaging and useless.

Honestly, I’ve never solved a problem by just thinking more about it.

I’ve never solved a problem by just thinking more about it.

Traditional Christian wisdom teaches us that if we are looking for wisdom or clarity, we should pray about it. In fact, the New Testament Epistle of James puts it this way:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. -James 1:5 NLT)

But most of us only think of prayer in one specific pattern. It goes something like this,

  • find a quiet space where you can be alone
  • read your Bible and maybe listen to some worship music
  • talk to a divine being who isn’t physically there in the room with you (if you don’t want to talk, just think what you want to say)
  • then spend some time listening to what God says back to you

There’s nothing wrong with any of the above, in fact I pray that way myself. But if I’m honest, I’ve never been great at talking to an invisible being and hearing back from them. Because sometimes, that’s what prayer feels like.

Sorry, am I being too real?

Go ahead and judge me if you want, but I bet you’ve prayed and felt like your words didn’t make it past the ceiling.

When I pray I’m looking for clarity, direction, and truth that only God can provide.

If I have a lot on my mind, it’s hard to get my thoughts together and get my mind to focus on praying about one thing before it jumps to another.

In one study conducted by Rochester University it was shown that

“Keeping a journal helps you create order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. You get to know yourself by revealing your most private fears, thoughts, and feelings. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time.”

If you’re like me, prayer is mostly a cerebral exercise, literally words or thoughts. But when I write my prayers, they become tangible and real. I can physically see them as they flow from my spirit, through my hand, and onto paper.

Here’s my version of prayer journaling.

What Prayer Journaling is Not

Like many children of the 90s, I grew up watching the Nickelodeon tv show Doug.

If for some reason you aren’t familiar with this piece of cultural history, Doug Funny, the series’ main character, was a young teenager in high school, and narrated each episode like he was writing an entry into his journal. Every episode stated with Doug saying: “Dear journal, today…” and the story would take off from there.

It’s no wonder why most people associate journaling with a private diary of teenage crushes and frustrations.

What Prayer Journaling Is

When I prayer journal, I don’t try to literally write out my prayers, I do it to

  • create clarity
  • untangle my thoughts
  • process my emotions
  • define what I want

What I do on paper isn’t especially Christian — as in, I don’t specifically write out prayers the way most of us think about praying: Heavenly Father, today was a hard day. First, Susie at the office ignored me…

It’s fine if you want to write that way, but I write for clarity.

I can have so many ideas colliding in my head that it’s often impossible to get my brain around them, much less make sense of them, so I start writing then down. The act of writing by hand forces my brain to focus and clarify. It takes something abstract and makes it concrete.

The act of writing by hand forces my brain to focus and clarify. It takes something abstract and makes it concrete.

Even though I don’t write out prayers in the traditional sense, I’m still talking to God because I know God is always with me. He sees and knows all that I do. So when I write, it opens up a channel for me to talk to him and vice versa.

It’s no wonder the Old Testament Psalms have been popular for thousands of years. So many of them are written prayer, covering a whole range of emotions from anger to elation. They connect with God in a visceral and authentic way.

So it’s no surprise that God speaks to me as I gain clarity through writing.

Often when I’m writing I get into a state of flow where I tap into a vein between myself and God and the words and thoughts are flowing through me and pouring from my pen. It’s usually in that state that I get an insight aha! moment.

The aha! moment of clarity I reach is God’s voice.

How do I do it?

While there aren’t any “rules” or “steps” to this process, there are a few principles that I think help me get the most out of prayer journaling.

Don’t write to be read.

This is actually harder than you’d think. For some reason you get an idea that some day someone is going to read what you’ve written, or you think I can’t write that because if it ever got out I’d be embarrassed. When you write to be read you hold back, and when you hold back, you’ll never get the clarity you’re looking for. If you’re really afraid someone will one day see what you’ve written, then burn your journal or notebook when you finish.

Be brutal.

If you’re not writing to be read, then don’t hold back. Be mean, nasty, petty, or whatever you want. Get out how you really feel about your family member or coworker. Again, read the Psalms, there’s some angry stuff in there. Give yourself permission to be brutal. Sometimes it takes shoveling out all the trash before you can get down to the dirt.

Let it flow.

The real results come when you stop worrying about making sense or correct grammar. When I get into a state of flow, I tap into something beyond me. I think it inhibits my conscious mind so that I don’t block out the clarity God wants to bring through the process.

Conclusion

Grab a pen and some paper and let ‘er rip!

Ready to Upgrade?

I’ve created a cheat sheet for helping you gain clarity and find direction very quickly. If you follow this daily, it will change your prayer life. Get the cheat sheet here!

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Kyle Chastain

Kyle Chastain

Stories make the world spin • Top Medium Writer • Say hello: kyle@kylechastain.com