joyful living

Clear your mind with a prayer journal

One of the most difficult things in our home is keeping track of the myriad of things that need to be done, handled, fixed, talked about, and so on! When I begin to feel overwhelmed, I know it’s time for a brain dump. It doesn’t matter to me really where this brain dump happens…on my phone, in a notebook, or on our magnetic list that lives on the fridge. It’s the process that’s important. Once I get everything down in writing somewhere I can begin to process and prioritize. 

And to be honest, many of the things on my dump list never actually make it to a To Do list. And I’m ok with it. The process frees my mind from the clutter and helps me breathe a little.

Ministry leaders and business owners are especially susceptible to mental—and spiritual—overload. We are often worn down by carrying the weight of responsibility for leading an organization forward. 

Matthew 11: 27-8-29 is a helpful encouragement when we feel wrung out and mentally, emotionally, or spiritually tapped:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [o]ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest relief and ease and refreshment and [s]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”

I’m sure you’ve read that scripture so many times it’s almost white noise. I encourage you to slow down, (if not now, later today!) and read it over a few times. Let God remind you that He is your strength and that He wants to carry the weight of your work. 

Like the brain dump that helps me gain perspective on my household and personal responsibilities, keeping a prayer journal is a practical way to dump our cares and “load” into God’s lap. This process is extremely helpful and really does work! It takes the worry, the responsibility, and the weight and places it where it belongs. Today I want to share some practical ways to use a prayer journal (or what I call a running prayer list) for your ministry or business. 

To start, a running prayer list is more than a simple list of names, items, or requests. It’s an ongoing dialog with God about the challenges of running a ministry or business. It’s a place to put your dreams and goals. It’s where you’ll ask God for wisdom for certain situations or relationships. And it’s where you’ll record the answers and responses you feel God giving you. Your prayer list will become a valuable tool in setting the direction for your vision, for your week, and for your heart. 

I highly recommend a notebook or journal that’s small enough to keep with your Bible, but large enough to write in comfortably.

I LOVE these journals from Barnes & Noble. In fact I have a couple in different colors, one specifically for my prayer journal and one that is just for my business where I write my goals and ideas. They are small enough to carry in a purse or pocket and look very professional so if you are writing at Panera or Starbucks, you don’t have to feel conspicuous because of the butterflies or puppies on your journal! (In fact, I just took this pic at Panera and you can see how great it looks on the table!)

Here’s what you’ll want to track in your new prayer journal:

  • Verses or quotes that speak to you 
  • Your hopes and dreams 
  • Your fears, frustrations, and disappointments 
  • Things you want to focus on for the week (or month). 

For example, last month I focused extra prayer on preparing for my first tax season as a business owner. This month I’m focusing on creating more peace and joy in my work and home. In the past I’ve focused on getting new clients, strengthening my vision, creative ideas for specific projects, and so on. This has proven to be really productive for me as it helps focus my prayers and also makes space for God to direct me. 

I think you’ll be amazed at the clarity and progress that comes when you begin to focus on your ministry and business in prayer this way. There is something very powerful in writing things down, and in creating that space for God to get involved in the things that concern you!

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