June 7, 2012
As a psychiatrist, I often see patients who struggle with fears, wounds, hurts, distortions, unresolved conflicts, and misinterpretations that profoundly interfere with their ability to live the abundant life that Christ’s death has made available to us. While struggling, they unfortunately fail to achieve their God-given potential. When we begin working together, their struggles are often very vague and difficult to describe. This contributes to their overwhelming and confusing feelings.
Journaling is one discipline that is really helpful. It’s actually essential for most at the start of their personal transformation process. When I ask patients to journal about their struggles, they commonly respond, “I don’t know where to start,” or “I won’t have enough paper to write about the whole issue,” or “You’ll never have time to read all I write.
But you see, once they start, the process of writing forces them to be very concrete, practical, and methodical as they dig into the elements of the issues and get them on paper. They are always amazed at the insights they get, and how little paper they end up using. They see the logical progressions of the issues, and recognize how much simpler the issues really are compared to their initial impressions. The process of journaling reveals some very deep truths and insights about ourselves and especially our hearts.
Prayer accomplishes the same results (and more) through the same process. As we think about what to pray for and why, we are verbally journaling with God. God wants us to come to Him in prayer. One reason is that prayer makes us analyze our situations and ourselves in a meaningful and revealing way. To bring issues to God, you need to dig in and sort them out. That’s journaling.
God’s Holy Bible repeatedly tells us to bring our petitions to Him through prayer with thanksgiving. Regardless of how He answers your prayers, each prayer transaction comes with this promise: His peace will guard your heart and mind and will keep you close to Him. How much more incentive do you need to pray!
Today, start a prayer journal. Write out just one prayer per day, and not just that rote, vague, superficial prayer you repeat out of habit. Spend a couple minutes doing some mental prep and taking inventory. Even get out a pen and paper and journal about what you will pray for and why. Record God’s answers to your prayers. Watch it play out over time. You will learn so much about God and His wisdom. You’ll begin to discern what to pray for. Your eyes will see your true heart and desires. Do they align with God’s? Why or why not? Your prayer life is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, I come to You with an open, thankful heart. As I bring my requests and petitions, You know exactly what I need and when I need it. Help me learn and believe that when you say “no” it’s because You’re planning something better for me, not because You’re punishing or withholding. I pray today that my intimacy with You will increase. Please help me remove all the aspects of my life that hinder intimacy with You. Help me to recognize what is in my heart and learn to put You at the center. I pray this in the name the one who knew His heart exactly, Jesus Christ – and all God’s children say, AMEN!
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.