Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

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Learning the Ins & Outs of Prayer Journaling

Image of the book Praying with a Pen (Mary Beth Weisenburger)
I recently read the book Praying with a Pen by Mary Beth Weisenburger (Dynamic Catholic) to learn the ins & outs of prayer journaling. (Pssst! It's free...just pay S&H!!!) I have friends who are into Bible Journaling using artwork but I'm no artist.  What I do love to do is write. I sat down with the book and a highlighter, ready to learn what I could about how to journal. I ended up only highlighting one thing from the book, and that was a statistic. It's not that there isn't great information in the book, but the big idea that Mary Beth wants to get across is that it's yours. You have to find what works for you and make it yours. Not hers, and not mine, but yours.

My Evolution

The Blessed is She journals for Advent & Lent were my introduction to prayer journaling. After my first one for Lent, I decided to branch out on my own. I went through the Mass Readings on USCCB for the liturgical season and printed out the Daily Readings as well as lines to write on.
Notebook with Daily Readings with Lines for Reflection
Daily Readings with space for reflection
I also had a monthly calendar in the front where I would write a word or short phrase as a "word of the day". I wrote names of people around the calendar who were in need of prayers.
Example of monthly calendar for word of the day from the mass readings
Calendar for daily words as well as intentions
I'm not gonna lie: that took a lot of time and paper & ink so I knew there had to be a better way. I decided to buy an inexpensive paper notebook, read the Readings in Magnificat and journal that way. 
Open planner with prayer books and notebook
My journaling evolving
I used my Blessed is She Planner and continued to write down a word of the day. 
Today, I'm using the Magnificat for the Daily Readings. I purchased the Bible Study Evangelista's Love the WordWhile it's not perfect, it's pretty close. There are tutorials available but they don't tell you exactly how to use it, so I'm making it my own.  
Cover of journal with image of Mary
This journal is beautiful!
 The only downfall is that some days the space for writing your thoughts isn't enough!
Open image of Love the Word Journal from The Bible Study Evangelista
The inside (click on picture for a larger view)
I still have my inexpensive notebook to write down thoughts and conversations. One of the most difficult things for me is to be able to actually talk to our Lord and to be silent. The being silent thing is the most difficult...the talking isn't quite so difficult! I take it into Adoration with me. Some nights there are pages, some nights I may not even get a fully formed paragraph. But it doesn't matter because it's mine

The Where, When, and a Routine

Mary Beth stressed the importance of having a designated prayer space...a space that's yours. It needs to be a quiet place, a place away from everyone else. You need to protect that space from little ones who may be curious or older ones who are looking for a pen. My boys are grown and 2 are no longer at home so this was fairly easy for me. During the school year (I'm a Speech/Language Pathologist for a school system) I sit in my chair at my desk in a spare bedroom. The downside to that is that my laptop is on my desktop and very often I get distracted by thinking about that email I need to send or about other things I need to do on the computer. Now that school is out, my favorite place is on the back porch. 
Outdoor table with prayer books, journal, coffee cup and water bottle
My Summer morning quiet place
I'm getting into a routine of walking the dogs (out of the house around 5:45 so we have the park to ourselves!) and coming back for "God time" on the porch. It's my happy place: the birds are busy chirping and singing and gathering food and the rest of the world is going about their day. In my little corner of the world, it's peaceful and quiet, except when one of our dogs can't decide if she wants inside or outside. 
I pray the Liturgy of the Hours (which I am just learning...it's a bit confusing!) then my morning prayers as well as personal intentions. I made a notebook using the "disc system" (you may own or have seen planners using the discs):
Disc notebook on table
In the zipper pouch, I have prayer cards and a pen.

Open disc notebook on table showing prayer intention page
I have a page for intentions.
Notebook with tabs for categories
I put tabs on the bottom for favorite sayings/scripture. 
Open notebook with quotes written
I'm big on quotes to give me a pick-me-up when I need it!
One of my Lenten "sacrifices" a few years ago was to wake up 30 minutes early to pray and read the Daily Readings, which started my whole journal journey. In the book, Mary Beth talks about how important it is to find your time. Since I'm an empty-nester, that was a  no-brainer for me. I don't have anyone to get ready for school except myself, and most days my husband is still in bed when I leave for work so it really wasn't a big deal for me to get up earlier. In fact, I liked it so much that I continued to get up 30 minutes early for my God time. When I went through a period following that Lent when I didn't get up early I could tell something was amiss throughout my days. I just force myself to go to bed a little earlier to make up for that extra 30 minutes. Since I started praying the Liturgy of the Hours I thought I would have to wake up even earlier but choosing to pray instead of checking my emails and Facebook takes care of that wasted time. 
So there you have it. That's how my prayer journaling has evolved and is still evolving. It works for me, but it may not work for you. There is no right or wrong way to talk to God. I've always thought that one's faith is a very personal thing and it's not going to look the same for everyone.
Do you pray by using prayer journaling? What works for you?
This blog post visits ideas for prayer journaling for beginners using a simple journal (from The Bible Study Evangelista) that is designed for you to make it your own. How my prayer life is evolving through using notebooks, Catholic quotes, daily prayers, and Scripture from the Daily Mass Readings. Pictures are provided as examples of how prayer journaling is changing my prayer life. Using the disc system I will show you how I organize part of my daily prayer routine.




4 comments:

  1. Yippeee! Now come on over to the Facebook page or IG posts and leave your #lovethewordtakeaway! Love this. That's exactly why I didn't "tell" people how to do it. Just make it your own :)) Sonja

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    1. Love it! Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing!!! :)

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  2. Several of my blogging friends journal. I consider my blog a journal, but it has evolved over time too. I am drawn to using color and drawing to highlight favorite passages and may 'get there' one of these days. Right now, my Bible has notes covering many pages. I'll get there!

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    1. If it works for you, that's what's important!!!

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