I have kept a prayer journal for years now. I started by promising myself to journal at least one prayer a day, even if it was only a line or two, and since then I've learned many times over the value of a prayer journal.
First, journaling my prayers focuses my mind. It helps me listen to God. Sometimes I discover what God wants me to pray AS I'm writing.
It provides a record of my prayers--and of God's answers. As Mark Batterson says, it is valuable "to keep track of what the Spirit is speaking," and it regularly leads me to give him the credit he deserves as I look back on what he has said and done in the past.
Journaling my prayers also functions as a light into my own heart. At times, I have looked over my praying and realized that I've been complaining instead of praising, or trying to get God signed up for my agenda instead of waiting on his agenda--among other things.
It keeps me accountable. Sometimes my prayer journal is a barometer of my faithfulness in prayer. It is easier to see my neglect of prayer when I notice my journal has gone silent.
It increases my faith. Earlier this year, I reviewed the prayers of the previous year, and was quickly and forcefully aware of how palpably God had lifted me up and kept me going through prayer. It was an insight--and a faith growth spurt--I would have missed otherwise.
There are many other benefits to keeping a prayer journal, but these top the list for me, I think. What about you? Do you keep a prayer journal? If so, why? What does it do for you?
(The journal pictured above was purchased at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky, on one of my most recent prayer retreats. The cover was crafted by monks from some other monastery)