“Behold, there is a day coming when you will regret your lethargy, and you will ask, ‘Why did we leave the vineyard of the Lord untended?’ Those things that have occupied you will appear for what they are—chaff and worthlessness. For there will be nothing of lasting value, and no reward for the works of your hands which you have done in your own strength, and which God has not commanded you to do. Jesus Himself was directed by the Father in all that He said and did. Dare you live according to the dictates of your own human heart and puny human understanding?”
By Francis J. Roberts in Come Away My Beloved
Yesterday, Veritas Academy teachers met together and closed out another school year by reflecting back on a year gone by. Where did the time go? With the speed at which we can now access information and communicate, our days, months and years all too easily can be filled with volumes of detail to contend with. Yet I have to ask myself personally that with this increased busyness, could my days actually be holding less and less that has eternal value? I am reminded of the verses in Psalm 103: 15 -16 that say “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”
As I look forward to the summer, I have an urgent desire to dig deeper and make each day truly count for eternity. Instead of verses 15 – 16, I want the following verses (17 – 18) to characterize my life: “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”
What does the Lord command of us? One thing is certain – to pray without ceasing about everything- to be attune to Christ and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit rather than rely on our puny human reasoning!
I faithfully write in journals yet my journaling habits have changed in the past two years. The journals from years gone by are filled with answered prayers and evidence of God’s sovereign faithfulness in my family. They are filled with prayers because I recorded prayers consistently and faithfully! And they are filled with answers because I recorded the answers consistently and faithfully. My human mind has a fleeting quality. Without my journals I would have no lasting record of all that God has done. It takes reading them to actually remember the amazing detail and depth of God’s work in my life and in the life of my family.
I am utterly spent right now at the end of a very challenging school year, yet my joy and strength return as I read these old journals and am reminded of all that God has done.
So join me, and many Veritas Academy teachers, in committing to faithfully journaling your prayers this summer. In a culture that continually distracts us and lures us to focus on what it has to offer, I urge you, in the midst of it, to develop a habit of consistent, recorded, daily prayer. The persistent widow in Luke 18 received justice because she persisted and Jesus said of her “will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?”
The Bible is really a prayer book. No practice is mentioned as many times as prayer. The early church leaders emerged as men of prayer and urged others to pray with them. At his conversion on the Damascus road, Paul began a life of earnest prayer and through prayer wrote most of the New Testament. Jesus Himself prayed in secret, in times of conflict, while on the cross, with thanksgiving, seeking guidance, interceding for others and communing with His Father. The well known description of Christian armor in Ephesians 6 concludes with the admonition to “pray at all times in the spirit.” Over and over we are commanded to pray without ceasing.
Oswald Chambers said that we are to “think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our heart. Our blood flows and our breathing continues without ceasing…prayer is not an exercise; it is the life of a saint. Beware of anything that stops the offering up of prayer, maintaining a childlike habit of offering up prayer in your heart to God all the time.”
A convicting realization came to me when I realized that I really do pray as much as I want to. So what stops me from praying more? First, I need to realize and repent of my reliance on human reasoning and recognize instead my need to constantly seek Christ first. Secondly, I must beware and be aware of daily distractions that take my focus away.
My challenge to you is to prayer journal the entire summer. Begin the habit during this less hurried season. Write down specific prayer requests that are on your heart- for yourself, for each child, for your spouse, for friends, for your school and church. Write down what God is teaching you and scripture that inspires you. When your prayers and thoughts before God are written down, something amazing happens! You will find yourself pondering these thoughts and praying throughout the day and you will find that your focus will have more of an eternal perspective.
- Start. Even if you don’t know how, start small with a few words but do it faithfully – day after day. My first journals were merely a list of a few words.
- Write legibly. As I read through old journals, I find such comfort in seeing all that God has done but I grow frustrated if the writing is difficult to decipher.
- Title each page with a date and any significant events of the day. Make sure to mark a beginning date at the front of each journal and include an ending date when the journal is complete. Such a system will help you as you go back and search for specific information. My journals are precious memories of God’s faithfulness and a record of His personal hand on my family. Simple organization helps me find what I am looking for.
- Include scripture and inspirations from books you read. Write down highlights from sermons. Use one side of the journal for prayers and the other side for notes OR use a different color of ink for prayer and another color for notes.
- At the beginning of each journal record specific prayers you plan to diligently pray for. Be bold. Be clear. Be persistent. Prayer often does not align with our common sense but instead connects us with the supernatural power of God. Common sense has to do with our own human reasoning and all to often replaces prayer.
- Write down your concerns about provision, health, etc. but include spiritual and character issues as well. Watch out what you pray for however. I earnestly prayed for patience a number of years ago and God answered my prayers by teaching me patience through testing it over and over and over. (My family jokingly tells me never to pray for patience again!)
- Refrain from worrying about what others will think if they read your entries. It is between you and God. I warn my family that if they dare read my journals they will read the honest and open sentiments from my heart which are not always pretty. I have cried out to the Lord on behalf of my husband and children at times when I did not like how they are acting.