Monday, September 16, 2013

Kimberly Kuntz: Prayer Keeps Me Centered

I started my very first prayer journal in 2002 when I was 16 years old. Over the years, the style of my journal entries has changed, but my reason for keeping the prayer journal has remained the same.

Christianity has to be more than a religion. It’s a relationship with God, made possible by the grace poured out by Jesus Christ. Because of my faith, it has been my desire to set time aside each day for prayer and for reading the Bible. (I pair prayer with Bible reading, because that is God’s primary way of speaking to us. If I just pray, it’s like having a one-way conversation. I need to let God speak to me too - through his word.)

This is a picture of me with my current prayer journal and the Bible I read 
and highlight in. Prayer time isn’t tied to a specific location, but I try 
to be alone and not in bed. (WARNING – Do not pray when 
you are lying in bed. You will fall asleep. There will be pen marks 
on your sheets, hands, arms, and/or face. If using a highlighter 
when reading your Bible, the same holds true. Highlighters stain.) 

When I talk with God throughout the day, I often forget what it is I have prayed about or how long I have prayed. Having a prayer journal helps me to stay accountable.  It ensures that I actually spend quality time with God every day. Now… there are days that I miss. I am by no means perfect in my journal keeping. Several years ago, I abandoned my journal for several months! Even the days that I miss are useful though. It helps me to re-evaluate what my priorities are. Is a television show really more important than spending time with God? Will missing a show have an impact on my eternity? No.  

Seeing a pattern in my prayer journal may also clue me into something that I am struggling with or avoiding. For instance, if I miss a few days, then it usually tells me that I am trying to hide something from God (foolishly), or I am holding onto some sort of hurt or worry. Noting this, I can bring whatever it is before God or just talk with him about not knowing what’s wrong and pray for his healing.  This leads me to the next question you may be wondering – what does one actually write in a prayer journal? Lots! 

Here are all of the prayer journals I could locate. 
I’m pretty sure this is all of them, but I just found five of them 
yesterday in a box full of my aunt’s old French books 
and my mom’s old Bible study texts, so I could be wrong. 
I think I’m organized, but in moments like these…
 I am confronted with the truth. I’m not. But I try. 

Like I said earlier, what I write in my prayer journals has changed over the years, and it is constantly changing as I get tired of particular patterns. Sometimes I write a list. Other times I write a letter. Occasionally I will write a poem or draw sketches. When I don’t feel like writing, I write down the time of when I start to pray and the time when I stop. If I’m alone in the car, I’ll pray out loud and simply write “prayed in the car” in my journal for the day. Sometimes, I do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. There are times I use lots of words; other days I am just quiet with God.  It’s really up to the person journaling to decide. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to pray. 

List

Letter to God

Poem

Sketches

Silent Prayer with Guidance

One pattern that I do often use is to follow ACTS:  A – Adoration, C – Confession, T – Thanksgiving, and S – Supplication (bringing concerns and requests to God). This is a really helpful pattern to keep in mind. It helps me on days that I’m not sure how to start. It also helps me to refocus when I am feeling distracted.

Here is a list-like entry in which I used the ACTS structure for my prayer time. 

The ability to monitor myself and re-focus is another benefit of keeping a prayer journal. If I feel the need to make a grocery list or write a quick thought, I simply turn to the back of my prayer journal and jot it down. Then, I can let the thought go, because it’s safely stored and will not be forgotten. I can write it down and get back on track with my conversation with God.  The back pages of my prayer journals are unbelievably random.  


Here are a couple of examples from back page entries. 

Prayer keeps me centered. Prayer keeps me grounded and thankful for everything I have. I usually read my Bible and pray at night before I go to bed, but I like it best when I make time in the morning or during the day. Prayer helps me to keep my priorities straight and live in a peaceful, reflective, and heartfelt way. Prayer is part of having an active relationship with God. Christianity has to be more than a religion. It’s a relationship.  

Idea: Start your own prayer journal! When just starting out, it may be helpful to try the ACTS method. 

A - Start out giving God praise for who he is or what he’s done.

C - Then, open up and tell God the things that you have done or thought that you know would not be pleasing to him and ask God to help you not to do it again. (If you are concerned about someone finding your prayer journal, you don’t have to write everything out word for word. Just pray in your head and write little asterisks in the journal.)  

T – Thank God for what you appreciate! There are so many things to be thankful for: the colors of the flowers outside, clean water, family and friends, pets, the five senses, and so much more.  

S – Lastly, let God know what’s on your mind. Lift up sick friends, people who have lost loved ones, protection for service men and women, wisdom for your country’s leadership, and the list could go on and on.  

Happy journaling! 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7, The Holy Bible (NIV) 


Kimberly Kuntz is a third and fourth grade special education teacher in Western New York. She grew up on her family’s dairy farm where she helps out when she can, especially during the summer - driving tractors, feeding calves and chickens, tending flowerbeds, harvesting hay, and gathering inspiration. She is soon to be married and is looking forward to all that the future has to hold. In addition to keeping her prayer journal, Kimberly enjoys writing poetry and stories for children. 

Please share a comment below if you wish.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing such beautiful and personal journal entries! I admire your dedication to this & feel inspired:)

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  2. What a beautiful way to stay in touch with your spiritual self and the writer, too. I write praise poems often. I secretly want to be Mary Oliver. I can see how keeping a prayer journal would help me develop as a writer while setting me on an intentional prayerful path.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading your post about your prayer journals. I've been searching around about how people keep their prayer journals. I know there's not a right or wrong way, but I guess I'm just trying to find something that works well for me. Your way seems natural and simple. I like that. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. It's lovely to see how you use your prayer journals, and that you are patient with yourself in the dedication, not worrying when you miss and writing quickly when other parts of life take over. It must feel comforting to have these to look back on as well. Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life.

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  5. Thanks for being so candid about your spiritual journey in your post. I like the structure of ACTS (I jotted it on a Post-It note) -- not as complicated as some study notebooks but an easy-to-remember tool to stay focused. For me one of the hardest parts of prayer is focus. This idea will help.

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