By CTA-Christ to All
Praying as Disciples
Jesus Recharges through Prayer
All throughout the Gospels, in every circumstance from the mundane to the miraculous, we see Jesus instructing his twelve apprentices. They weren’t always the best students, but one thing we can emulate is their insatiable desire to learn more.
One day, a disciple noticed Jesus doing something he did often—going off by himself to pray. Perhaps his curiosity about these private moments got the better of him, or maybe it was because he noticed a change in Jesus’ demeanor after he emerged from his sacred solitude. He just had to ask: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1 ESV).
His answer, of course, is one of the most beloved prayers in the Bible: the Lord’s Prayer.
In order for the disciples entrusted to our care to grow, we must help them foster this same yearning to learn and follow the example of our Teacher, especially when it comes to living a life of prayer.
For Jesus, prayer was more than just a conversation with his Father, although we often catch Jesus chatting, if you will, with his Father—in everyday situations. Conversation throughout the day, however, was not enough for Jesus. He needed intentional time, removed from the pressures of daily life, to commune at a deeper level.
For Jesus, prayer was a source of connection, similar to a battery being recharged. Notice that the times he most needed to get away were after intense periods of ministry. While others might desire a nap, Jesus desired to plug into his power source and recharge. It was not just the physical exhaustion of serving others he dealt with. If we believe the writer of Hebrews, that Jesus was “in every respect . . . tempted as we are, yet [he was] without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV), we have to think that Jesus faced mental and spiritual pressures as well. Just like us, he dealt with discouragement, doubt, fear, and opposition.
He needed to bare his soul to the Father and receive the loving affirmation again and again: You are my beloved Son. I am pleased with you (Matthew 3:17). Jesus drank from the well of his Father’s love in those moments of solitude, and his strength was renewed for the battle.
While believers are always in the presence of the Father and have access to the throne of grace at any moment, we, like Jesus, need intentional space in our hectic lives for connection and recharging.
Encouraging your congregation to incorporate a prayer journal into their devotional habits can help them deepen their connection with the Father and bring renewed purpose and depth to their spiritual formation. Here are some benefits your people will receive by developing this habit of discipleship.
Intentionality and Focus
In the busyness of life, it's easy to get distracted during prayer. You start praying about your aunt’s hip surgery, and before you know it, you’re making a grocery list in your head for a meal you plan to bring her. A prayer journal provides a dedicated space for disciples to focus their thoughts, intentions, and requests. By slowing down, and putting pen to paper, they engage in a deliberate act of mindfulness, grounding themselves in the present moment and allowing themselves to concentrate fully on communication with God.
A Sacred Record
Keeping a journal allows believers to document their spiritual journey, capturing the ebb and flow of their relationship with the Father. It becomes a sacred record of their conversations with God, reflecting growth, challenges, and answered prayers. By revisiting past entries, they gain insights into the faithfulness of God in their lives, reinforcing trust and encouraging them to persevere in times of doubt. It serves as a testimony to God's grace in their lives.
Self-Reflection and Unfiltered Expression
When Christians practice the habit of writing in a journal, they are not only better able to hear from God and reflect on what he is teaching them but also have a safe place to express sorrows, hopes, and fears without filter. Being honest on the pages of a journal helps them gain a better understanding of themselves and their relationship with God.
Another great use of a prayer journal is to record blessings, answered prayers, and moments of grace. Writing down Scripture God has given as encouragement during a difficult season will also help believers cultivate a heart of thanksgiving.
Tracking Spiritual Growth and Discernment
It can be difficult to remember how far we've come in our spiritual journey, especially in the midst of a trying circumstance. By encouraging your people to document their prayers, they will be able to discern patterns, identify areas of growth, and track their progress along their discipleship journey. They will observe how God works in their lives, recognizing patterns of answered prayers or divine guidance.
As your flock takes new steps on this path of discipleship, be sure to remind them that there is no right or wrong way to keep a prayer journal. They should find a format that resonates with them and stick with it the best they can. Through the pages of their journals, may they discover the transformative power of prayer and the profound presence of the divine in their lives.
Below find prayer journals you may find helpful in starting prayer journaling in your church or ministry.
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