Prayer is vital to the Christian faith. Through prayer, we communicate with God, bring our requests before Him, worship Him, and align our will with His. The Bible has much to say about prayer and emphasizes its importance in the life of a believer. But what about writing down our prayers? Is this practice biblical? What can we learn from Scripture about journaling our prayers? In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore what the Bible teaches about writing down prayers.
Prayer journals and written prayers can be very meaningful spiritual practices for Christians. Writing down your prayers allows you to track how God has answered past prayers and refer back to previous requests. Seeing a record of your spiritual journey through journaled conversations with God can help strengthen your faith. Writing can also be a useful tool to help focus your mind during prayer.
However, some Christians are unsure if writing prayers is biblical. Nowhere in Scripture are we directly commanded to journal our prayers. Does this mean the practice should be avoided? Not necessarily. While the Bible does not explicitly instruct us to write out our prayers, there are plenty of scriptural examples of prayers being written down and practical reasons to consider journaling your prayers.
When studying what the Bible says about any topic, it is important to thoroughly examine all relevant scriptures in context to get a complete picture. We must look at the potential benefits as well as warnings, seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit to apply God’s Word to our lives appropriately. In that spirit, let’s explore several key points to understand what the Bible teaches about writing out prayers.
- The Bible does not directly command or forbid writing down prayers – it is a matter of spiritual discretion.
- Scriptural examples exist of prayers being written down.
- Writing down requests can aid memory and provide a record of God’s work.
- Journaling prayers can increase focus during prayer.
- Prayers should come sincerely from the heart, not just written words.
- God hears all sincere prayers, written or unwritten.
- Writing down prayers is not required for God to answer.
- The heart’s motives and faith in Christ are most important.
- Examples of Written Prayers in the Bible
- Potential Benefits of Writing Down Prayers
- Cautions About Written Prayers
- How to Begin Writing Out Your Prayers
Examples of Written Prayers in the Bible
Though the Bible does not specifically command that we write our prayers, there are examples of prayers being written down in Scripture. Several of the Psalms were written prayers from King David and others, penned as songs to God.
For example, Psalm 102 is titled:
A Prayer of an afflicted man. When he is faint and pours out his lament before the Lord. (Psalm 102:1)
This is a prayer written down for corporate worship. Many of the Psalms capture prayers and inspired musical worship for God’s people to sing together.
In some cases, God directly instructed individuals to write down prayers or prophetic words. For example, in Jeremiah 36, God tells Jeremiah to write down all the prophecies He had given him over the previous 23 years.
Now in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: “Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations…It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” (Jeremiah 36:1-3)
So according to God’s instructions, Jeremiah wrote down many of the Lord’s prophecies and prayers over several decades.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote several prayers down in his inspired letters to churches. For example:
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
Paul wrote many prayers like this one to share his heartfelt petitions for the spiritual growth of fellow believers. He was led by the Holy Spirit to write down these Spirit-inspired prayers in his letters.
Additionally, in Revelation 5:8, the apostle John describes seeing golden bowls in heaven that contained the prayers of the saints on earth. The implications of these “bowls of prayer” in heaven will be explored more below.
While the Bible does not explicitly command that we write down our prayers, these examples show it is a biblical practice that can be acceptable and helpful for some people in their walk with God. But the heart behind it is what matters most, not the physical act of writing.
Potential Benefits of Writing Down Prayers
Along with biblical examples of written prayers, there are several potential benefits that writing out your prayers can provide:
Aids Memory and Accountability
Writing down your prayers aids your memory and provides a way to track how God answers your requests. Our memories are limited, but God has perfect recall. When you journal your prayers, you create a permanent record you can revisit. Seeing specific prayer requests and how God moved in response over time can help us remember His past faithfulness. Keeping a prayer journal is like creating spiritual landmarks of God’s work in your life that you can refer back to.
“Write down for yourselves every vision clearly on tablets, so that the one reading it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time, it testifies about the end and does not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will surely come and not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:2-3)
Writing down your prayers, prophecies, and God’s answers also provides accountability. You can look back and check if you followed through on action items God may have prompted you to do through prayer. Journaling your prayers over years can give a powerful testimony to how God has guided your life when you reflect on past entries.
Writing down prayers can help increase your focus during your prayer time. Putting your thoughts on paper naturally concentrates your mind and prevents distracting mental wandering that can happen in long spoken prayers. The discipline of writing can lead to more intentional, specific prayer requests instead of general repeated phrases. When you write out detailed prayers during focused prayer sessions, it engages your mind and may strengthen your concentration on God.
Provides Record for Reflection
As mentioned above, keeping a prayer journal creates a record you can revisit to see how God answered past prayers and grew your faith over time. Reflecting on the ways God has worked in your life in the past can be a great encouragement when you face new challenges in your spiritual journey. A prayer journal is like a map of your walk of faith that documents the progression of your relationship and communication with God.
Helps Articulate Thoughts
Writing something down often helps articulate your thoughts more clearly compared to spoken words. You can take time to process praying about specific issues and carefully think through what you want to ask of God. Writing prayers may allow you to be more precise and thoughtful in your petitions instead of general platitudes.
Directs Thoughts to God
The practice of writing can direct our thoughts to focus on God and open our hearts up to Him. Writing or typing out your thoughts in the form of a prayer naturally guides your mind towards your Heavenly Father. The simple practice inherently orients your focus toward communicating with the Lord.
Cautions About Written Prayers
While writing down prayers can have benefits, there are some cautions to keep in mind so the practice does not become empty religious ritual:
Heart Motives Are Most Important
Most vitally, the sincerity of your heart matters far more to God than any outward religious actions. Written or unwritten, God examines the motives and attitudes underneath our prayers. We must come to Him with humble, repentant hearts in sincerity through Christ – not trusting in religious deeds and lip service.
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9)
So while writing down your prayers can help you focus, the physical act itself does not make your prayers any more acceptable to God. Some of the most powerful prayers in the Bible were short, spontaneous cries from the heart, not rehearsed words. Our faith and motives are what God cares about most.
Should Not Become a Formula
Written prayers can be meaningful when done sincerely, but they can become vain repetition if done as a formula. Rattling off written prayers without heart engagement is worthless. Our Father wants to hear our unique voices have genuine conversations with Him each day – not just recite composed words from a page we wrote previously.
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)
Praying from the heart is what matters, whether your words are spoken or written. Aim for true connection with God.
God Hears Unwritten Prayers Too
We must remember that recording our prayers in writing is not at all required for God to hear them. God graciously hears our cries for help whenever they come from a sincere heart of faith. Written or unwritten, spoken or silent, public or private – God is attentive to every real prayer from His children.
“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
So while writing your prayers can be helpful, God hears your unwritten prayers just the same. The key is coming to Him in humility and faith.
Should Not Replace Other Prayer Types
Writing out your prayers has value but should not completely replace spontaneous prayer from your heart. There is still a place for praying off the cuff from your spirit as the Holy Spirit leads and interceding for pressing needs you become aware of throughout your day. Your personal prayer life should be a both/and combination of journaling written prayers and praying unplanned from the heart as the Lord leads you.
How to Begin Writing Out Your Prayers
If you want to start journaling your prayers or incorporate some written prayers into your prayer life, here are some tips to begin:
- Set aside time – Set specific time in your schedule for focused prayer journaling. Treat this time as an appointment with the Lord.
- Find a private space – To avoid distractions, find a quiet, private spot to record your prayers.
- Get a journal or device – Have a designated journal or device to write your prayers on. Using the same place consistently keeps all your prayers organized in one spot you can easily refer back to.
- Open with Scripture – Start your written prayer time by reading Scripture to prime your heart to hear from God. The Psalms or other biblical prayers are great choices. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts.
- Write conversationally – Write your prayers as if conversing with God. Share your heart openly and honestly. Use natural language instead of overly formal religious words. God wants to hear your real voice and emotions.
- Focus each session on a theme – To avoid jumping randomly from topic to topic, focus each prayer journaling session on a specific theme, life area, or Scripture.
- Keep it organic – Don’t try to craft perfect prayers. Allow them to flow naturally. Some days your written prayers might be long and eloquent. Other times they may be short and simple. Either is fine as you communicate authentically with your Heavenly Father.
- Listen too! – Prayer is a two-way conversation, so allow space to record things you sense God speaking to your heart too. This helps praying become an interactive dialogue, not a one-way monologue.
- Review and reflect – Schedule time periodically to reread past journal entries and reflect on ways God has answered or grown you. This review will build your faith and gratitude.
The goal of writing prayers is not to impress God with elegant words. It is simply to authentically connect your heart with His in sincerity. Writing down your prayers can help you focus and articulate your petitions more clearly as you invite God’s presence into every life area. But words on paper mean nothing without a heart of true faith behind them. God cares most of all that we come to Him through Christ in humility, honesty, and earnestness – seeking Him above all else.
In summary, writing down your prayers can have great spiritual benefits such has increasing your focus, providing a record of God’s work in your life, and helping articulate your thoughts. But it is important to keep the practice in biblical perspective: the sincerity of your heart matters far more than the method of your words. Though there are scriptural examples of written prayers, God also hears our unwritten cries. Approach writing your prayers not as empty ritual but as a tool to draw your heart closer to your Heavenly Father. He delights in any real conversation with you – written or unwritten!
So while the Bible does not specifically command writing down prayers, it can be a helpful spiritual practice when approached carefully. If done with the right motives of the heart, prayer journaling can strengthen your connection with God and document His faithfulness in your walk. But ultimately, a prayer written or not written is heard based on the humility and sincerity of the heart from which it flows. Our sovereign God is able to powerfully answer any prayer from a heart of genuine faith in Him through Jesus Christ.