I often rise before my husband does, but on some mornings he wakes up earlier than I do. He kindly refrains from eating breakfast until I wake up. Always eager to eat, he asks, “What time will you be able to have breakfast?” (I wait 30 minutes or more after taking a medication before I eat breakfast.)
One such morning when my husband asked me what time I would be able to have breakfast, I told him it would be 8:30. When I sat down with a plate of food in front of me, he joined me. But he only had hot chocolate—no food, in front of him.
“Aren’t you going to eat breakfast?” I asked.
“No, I told you that I would eat my breakfast right away but wait and have my hot chocolate with you.”
“I didn’t hear that!”
“You were standing in the hall when I said it; then, you walked into your office.”
“I only heard you say that you would wait until 8:30! . . . Are you sure that you didn’t just think those other words?”
We both laughed and I admitted that I had not listened well. I had turned my attention away from my husband before he was through speaking to me.
Sometimes I do the same thing with God. I read a Scripture verse and begin to receive the word of encouragement, correction, or wisdom that he has for me. Then, just like I did with my husband, I turn my attention away before God is through speaking to me.
I’ve found something that helps me stay focused and listen more effectively to God. I call it prayer-journaling. I write down the words of Scripture that God speaks to me through. Then, I write down my responses to his words.
Having conversations with God on paper helps my mind from wandering. It also keeps me from, later in the day, wondering what it was that he said to me. I can go back and reread my journal.
I started this practice when I was a college student. It has been the major contributor to my spiritual growth. More than anything else it has helped me to internalize God’s love. I’m so grateful for the mentors early in life that helped me learn to prayer-journal.
Two of them, Rosalind Rinker and Leanne Payne influenced me primarily through their writing. (I never met Rosalind Rinker; I met Leanne Payne only once at a conference.)
Through her book,“Conversational Prayer”, Rosalind Rinker gave me the inspiration and encouragement that I needed to start my journey. She showed me that I could come to God as a friend and open up heart to him. No matter what was in it, he would never shame me.
Through her book, “Listening Prayer”, Leanne Payne taught me the value of having a bit more structure, while reminding me that no two prayer journals are alike. To each one of us, God offers a private conversation.
Through prayer journaling, I’ve learned to listen well. Consequently, I am more in touch not only with God’s heart but also my own.
Having a morning conversation with Jesus makes breakfast conversations with John more enjoyable. I can laugh instead of argue about what I did or did not hear.
To help you start or better understand what prayer-journaling is, I’ve designed a PDF. It’s FREE! Simply send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for my LEARN TO PRAYER-JOURNAL PDF.