Welcome to Day Eight of the 21-Day Prayer Challenge.
Let me get straight to the point: if you don’t have a prayer journal you need to get one! You need to journal like a journalist. Why? You need to document your prayers so that you can give God the glory when He answers them. Think of your journal as a prayer genealogy.
I know that journaling isn’t technically a spiritual discipline, but I think it could be and should be. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write down the revelation.” When you get an impression from the Lord, you need to put it on paper. When God gives you revelation on some situation or some Scripture, you need to jot it down. When the Holy Spirit puts a prayer in your heart, you need to journal it.
I recently got one of the most well-documented testimonies I’ve ever read. No surprise that it was from a journalist. She is a part of the press corp that covers the Whitehouse. In fact, she is part of the travel pool that accompanies the President on Air Force One. Her first trip was April 29, 2011, the morning President Obama gave the go on the Osama Bin Laden mission. This was her dream job. She wanted to work for a major network and cover politics. “Of course, God did one better and said, not only that but you’ll work at the network with the biggest audience, so your work will have a reach farther than you can imagine. And then He said, I’ll do even better than that, you’ll cover the most famous address in the country, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Let me retrace the circle and let her share her prayer genealogy. She went back through all of her old journals and shared her story with me. The seeds of the vision trace back to 2001 as a college senior when she penned this ten year-old prayer: “Dare I ask for my dreams. Dare I see the imagination of the soul. Dare I risk. What if I ask and receive. So then, I risk. I ask of my King, may I impact others with news and knowledge…”
Out of college she got a job in Wisconsin. She thought about grad school, considered pursing library science, and thought about moving to Chicago or New York. It was during this time of wandering that she created a prayer map. It was one sheet of paper with verses at the top and prayer requests written below. She circled Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” That was a a critical promise and a critical prayer at a critical time. On November 4, 2003 she wrote out this prayer: “Where do you want me to go? Where can I represent you? Where is your will? Tug at my heart. I am willing and waiting.”
Fast forward to April 15, 2004. She was sitting on a bench overlooking Lake Michigan, depressed by how much money she wasn’t making, when the dream of working for a major network was birthed in her spirit. She knew she needed to move to Washington, DC and that’s exactly what she did. She slept on a friend’s floor for months. She sent out hundreds of resumes and made hundreds of cold calls. She worked for a temp agency filing papers. Then she got her first break working for a small bureau, but it was the graveyard shift. Her first night as a full-time journalist in her new job was the day Hurricane Katrina hit. “As awful as those overnights were, turns out those overnights were the best thing to hone my journalistic skills. This was also the height of the Iraq War so everything was happening overnight. I got to see how the early morning shift can set the agenda for the entire news cycle.”
About a year into the overnight shift, she wanted to get a day job so she could get a life! It was killing her body, her social life, her spirit. She applied for a network job and she got an interview. She thought the dream job was finally at her fingertips, but the door closed. It was devastating. And that’s when many of us give up on the dream, but she kept circling. “Nothing like not getting something sure has a way of getting you back on your knees praying harder.” She kept working her job for another year. Then she got another interview with the same network! This time she got the job!
Long story short, it took a decade of working like it depended on her and praying like it depended on God for her dream to come true! But because she journaled her prayers, she was able to document her faith, document the faithfulness of God.
One last reflection on journaling from a journalist.
“It’s funny, as I was looking through my old journals this week in preparation to write this—I also found a journal entry from 2000, when I was leaving my internship in DC that summer in college. I did not AT ALL remember this—but I found this entry about the internship that read, ‘I fasted to get here and I fasted to end here.’ Apparently, when deciding if I should take the internship in DC, I fasted beforehand and then fasted when it ended.”
That is precisely why you need to journal–so you don’t forget what God wants you to remember! So you can give him praise when you look back on your journal prayers! So you can trace your prayer genealogy!
I love this ending.
“I’m the granddaughter of farmers. One of my grandmother’s only got an 8th grade education because she had to leave school to help out on the farm. She was told, “all you’ve ever do is milk cows.” Now her granddaughter works at the Whitehouse. She can be in the Oval Office and say, “Excuse me, Mr. President?”
What a country. What a God.