In this case the area begging for some structure was my list of prayer intentions. There were so many things on my heart and mind that to think about praying for them in one sitting was almost daunting. Instead of bringing just a few of those things to God in prayer, I avoided the situation all together....odds were good that a toddler would interrupt, or some other reason would keep me from finishing a time of prayer like I wanted.
Two things needed to happen here....
One, I needed to accept reality. This is a season of life full of little ones with lots of needs. I'm not going to have hours of uninterrupted time for study and prayer. Adjust the expectation.
Two, I needed some structure that worked with our family's lifestyle and not just leave things to chance, hoping that one day, more time would magically appear.
Journaling has always been something I enjoy. I've been very inconsistent with it...at times, I'll write daily and other times go months between entries. Either way, a journal seemed like a good tool to help me get organized.
There are some things I take to God in prayer daily...my husband, our children, urgent needs. And other needs of friends/family I want to pray for on a regular basis...a search for a job, a family separated, freedom from an addiction, peace in an anxious heart, hope restored.
I started by marking a page for Daily intentions. I wrote down each item and left some space in between. Sometimes a new need arises and I want to add something to an entry. But more importantly, I want this journal to also be a place for answers to prayers. It's not just about asking but about praise and thanksgiving. It is an incredible gift to be able to look back and see how God has moved over time.
On the next page, I allotted half a page to each day of the week. There are a few items on my prayer list that I added under a couple days of the week and others to just one. As this fills up or items are crossed off, I can replicate this set up on a new set of pages, moving over any intentions I'm still praying about.
On the subject of giving thanks, I wanted to have something tangible that our family could have as a reminder of all the ways God has blessed us over the years. Whether it's answered prayers or unexpected ways that our family has experienced joy, success, provision, and even painful growth. We now have a special place to record those blessings.
This beautiful journal was given to me by a dear friend and it's pages have remained empty for over a year.
But it now has a new purpose.
For this book, I used monthly headers and anyone in our family can make an entry when they have something to give thanks about.
I started with a few that had made my heart full over the past couple days.
Our Book of Blessings and a pen sit on a cake stand in our dining room buffet. As we sit down to dinner and talk about our day, it will be nearby, pages ready for our family to fill.
These books are a tool to help us as a family, and me personally, in recording part of our spiritual journey and to put our gratitude to paper. My prayer journal gives a specific time to all of those things that can seem overwhelming. Otherwise, I can feel like a hamster on his wheel - huffing and puffing and not getting much done.
Ever feel like that? How about in keeping up with your inbox? Bills? Work? The house? I've found that my to-do list is nearly impossible to accomplish. There will always be something else to do. In order to ensure that the important things don't slip through the cracks, I take a cue from the prayer journal setup.
There are things that I address daily (school papers, emails, etc) and other items like business for the mom's group I organize, bills, class prep, contracting work and catching up on emails with long distance friends get assigned a certain day (or two) of the week. On that day, I do those things first before my daily stuff. I don't stick to this like glue but having a general schedule helps keep me on track and much more productive than just trying to accomplish it all, all at once.
I do something similar for running the blog and will share that in another post if you're interested!
I hope you all enjoy the weekend! We're going to recover from the massive amounts of sugar consumed from our daughter's birthday and will hopefully wrap up a few lingering projects around here!