Do you ever struggle to connect with God during quiet times? Karen and I have been discovering how simply have pen & paper ready, jotting out our prayers and reaction to Scripture, makes the encounter more real for us. We’re not the first to do this, of course. In fact, Augustine of Hippo is one of the first attributed with writing a prayer journal back in the early 400’s. In the 1500’s, Ignatius Loyola refined the process with a neat 5-step pattern to follow called the “Daily Examen”:
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
Today, author and pastor Paul Miller helped us incorporate prayer and Scripture even better in his book, A Praying Life. He says:
“The key was being honest about what I was feeling and then letting Scripture speak to my heart. By being honest, the real me was talking. I wasn’t trying to be good. When we look at our life through the lens of Scripture, we seldom lose our way. We can be real, but we don’t get lost in our feelings… You don’t have to write well to keep a prayer journal, nor do you have to be consistent. It is just a written version of childlike praying, except more organized. Begin with what’s on your heart, what’s bugging you, what you are thankful for. If you are real before God, then everything else flows. The act of writing out your worries, joys, and prayers helps you focus and keeps your mind from wandering. But the best part is that over time you will begin to see patterns of what God is doing, to pick up the threads of a story.”