Monday, January 5, 2009

Where to begin when you're a new Christian? pt. 5

We now return to the "Where to begin when you're a new Christian?" series already in progress...

Prayer: Deliberate, Consistent Communication

Today will begin the 5th part in the series, "Where to begin when you're a new Christian?" The series arose from questions I've had from people who understand they need to incorporate new habits in their Christian walk but just don't know how to do it. These are just suggestions from things I've tried or heard others try. It certainly isn't the only way. But, I submit these to you in hope that it encourages true growth which leads to obedience in you Christian walk.

As far as keeping track of your prayers there are several ways to. The 1st is in a paper bound journal and the 2nd is kept on the computer.

Paper Journal

Some people use the journal to keep track of prayers and others use it to help keep their minds from wandering when they pray. If you simply want to keep track of your requests then get a small 3-ring binder. It is 5 1/2" x 8 1/2 ". I like the 3 ring binder better than a spiral because it is easier to reorganize your journal. At first, I divided a sheet of paper in half and wrote requests on one half with the date and the date it was answered and a description of how God worked. I had a running list where I'd write requests down. I then had different sections such as "Family", "Friends", "Missionaries", "Personal", "Ongoing Requests", "Government Leaders", etc. I also had a section for things I was thankful for or things I praised Him for. It is really good to read over those when you're having a whiny-hiney moment and want to feel sorry for yourself. God is good and we too often forget how incredible He is.

This became difficult to keep track of because I would have to flip back and forth between the pages trying to update things as the prayer was answered or the situation changed.

Computer Journal

Now, with the ease of computers, try using your computer to maintain your journal. There are so many possibilities you have with using the computer. I've just recently begun keeping track of prayer requests this way.

If you have a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word, you can create a document and password protect by clicking on the "Review" tab and then clicking on the "Protect Document" button. This feature is great if you don't want anyone else to see your journal or if you have to share a computer with someone else. If you don't have this you can google "journaling software" and will find a plethora of programs available for you to start.

I'm liking this more than my paper journaling because you can cut, copy, paste, and even search which is very helpful if you have a journal that spans several years. You could even set up a journal online and keep track of it that way. For example, most blog accounts have the ability to be password protected or kept private and best of all, they are free. Theoretically, you could access this journal anywhere in the world as long as you have internet access.

If you keep your journal on the computer (not online), create a folder called, "Prayer." Then you can have different folders within this folder such as, "Daily- ongoing", "Daily- temporary." Then you can break them down further into days of the week. Have a folder labeled, "Weekly" and within that add folders titled "Sunday", "Monday", "Tuesday", etc. You can also incorporate certain items that need to be prayed for once a month. To do that create a folder labeled, "Monthly" and within that add folders titled "1", "2", "3", etc. all the way to "31". List some things to be prayed for once a month under each of the dates.

I have needs or people that pray for on a continual basis. But, I also have things such as my pastor, concerns for our nation, the president, that I relegate to weekly or monthly prayer.

After you start this you can list a request for each day in the month. Here's how you keep track: when you sit down to pray use the FIND function to search for your daily requests. Use FIND NEXT to locate the date of the month and so on until you've covered all topics or themes that you're praying about. Experiment with what you believe is best. You'll find a system that works.

Miscellaneous Tips

I have also found that sometimes my mind is so cloudy that it is easier for me to journal my prayer out and confess my sin. Sometimes, it just seems easier to spill it all out in one place. Just experiment with it and see what is easier for you.

Also, keep a pad of paper and pen with you because I believe that as an attack, Satan tries to distract us by bombarding our minds with all kinds of other things that need to be done. Keep that paper and as they enter your mind, write it down. Then you can attend to it later.

If you maintain a computer prayer journal, it's a good idea to insert a photo in the document when you're praying for specific people. Again, I am just a visual person and I like to see them as I pray for them which is one of the reasons I take so many pictures during witnessing opportunities. My wallpaper on my computer is of a particular witnessing opportunity with a guy named, "Will" and I pray for his salvation every day.

Since prayer is a conversation with God, consider writing down different things and themes that you believe God is showing you.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Good to see you back! We use a small file box and file cards. We have a section for "current request" a section for "continue to pray" and a "answered section". We try to use this box daily as a family but prayer needs can be put in at anytime. I want to encourage my kids to bring all things to the throne.

My favorite part is when the kids or myself go through the cards and find needs that have been answered through prayer... I have the kids write in red "Praise The Lord" across the card :) Just thought I would share!

Talk to you soon!