Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A New Way (To Me At Least!)

I've kept a prayer journal for well over a decade.

I started in small, pretty books, but soon found I was most comfortable and confident to fill the college-ruled pages of a single-subject, Mead, spiral notebook. You know, the one with the double pocket inside the extra-strong, front cover?

Over the years, I have filled probably two dozen or more writing on both the fronts and backs of each page. My format has not varied much since before my oldest daughter was born in May of '03. I've traditionally written a verse from my Bible study or devotional with my response, and then, by each of their initials, I would write specific prayers for each member of my little, but growing family. I'd record funny things my toddler would do or say. I'd tell God on my husband when I felt he needed it. I'd pray for the salvation of my daughters from before they were born . . .

I would draw a "fancy," squiggly line underneath these prayers and then "bullet" five or six more requests - for our head pastor, for my grandfather's failing health, for my mom, my brother, my Sunday School class, work. . .

Often I could feel the Spirit's gentle nudge as I would write. Sometimes He would remind me of my Father's promises. Sometimes He would point out my sin. Sometimes He would answer my prayers as I wrote them down. . .

These journals are priceless to me in so many ways. Yet, you may have noticed that I am writing about them in the past tense.

You see, this spring and summer I stopped writing in my journal.

I came to a place where I was becoming legalistic and self-righteous about my journals, especially as the demands of mothering three, working part-time and trying to be there for my husband wasn't leaving me much time to write to God. On top of it all, I found that when I missed a day, Satan would try to make me feel guilty.

However, God has been so gracious. He has patiently and gently shown me that just because that has been the main way we have communicated for so many years, that it isn't the only way to spend time with Him, hear His voice and enjoy His presence.

I've started getting up early in the morning to walk my neighborhood. When I started, honestly, my main purpose was to lose the baby weight from the last Vinson I birthed. But as I listen to worship choruses on my playlists, I find myself communicating with my God in a whole new way. Now, when I miss a day, not only do I feel it physically, I feel it spiritually. There's no guilt at this point, just a deep desire to go the next day . . .

My purpose in sharing all this with you is two-fold. First, if you haven't tried consistent prayer journalling, it is definitely worth a try. Second, just because you have always experienced Him one way, doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't seek Him in other ways. Another "way" may be worth the try too.

After my morning strolls, I am starting to pick up my journal again. I've ditched the format that had become so restricting and confining to me. I'm still striving to be honest when I write and I am letting myself know that it is okay on days I don't.

I'm just thankful I have a God who is faithful to pursue me on the pages of a notebook and on the asphalt of a middle TN neighborhood. Isn't He good?