Discover the transformative power of prayer journaling with Redemptorist Priest Fr David Hore, who unveils how this intimate practice can sculpt a sanctuary for spiritual conversation and connection. Together, we traverse the concept of chronicling prayers, delving into the ways this method can enrich your relationship with the divine. Prayer journaling isn’t just about writing down requests; it’s about documenting life’s journey, etching a testament to personal growth while fostering an atmosphere of gratitude and awareness of God’s presence.


In this engaging episode of our Prayer is Life Series, Fr David explores the therapeutic side of prayer as journaling, providing insight into how articulating your thoughts and concerns on paper can serve as a cathartic release. He explains how facing trials with pen in hand can aid in discerning the true nature of our challenges, offering clarity and peace in the midst of life’s storms. By sharing our personal experiences and practical steps to starting and maintaining a prayer journaling routine, we invite you to embark on an adventure of honest dialogue with God that illuminates your path.


The Prayer is Life podcast by Majellan Media with Redemptorist priest Fr David Hore CSsR 

Prayer and Journalling

Many people find it helpful to keep a prayer journal of their moments of encounter with God and the key is very much to write spontaneously the words and thoughts that come. And some people find it helpful to record short passages from Scripture or from other spiritual writers and to create a very personal kind of prayer book. Some people use a prayer journal to write letters to God. Some people add newspaper or magazine clippings, poetry of their own composition or by other authors, illustrations or photos. So a lot of people use it in various ways and there’s no one right or best way to do it. It’s again like all prayer how is it best for me, what works best for me in my relationship with God? But it is a wonderful tool and people who do use a prayer journal find it very helpful in their lives.

Is it like keeping a daily diary?

It can. But a prayer journal is not so much a diary but rather a special way to use the written word to enrich our relationship with God, and so it’s more than just a chronicle or a list of events. It’s a place to record insights and treasured moments of encounter with God. And treasured moments of encounter with God, it’s also an opportunity to admit our faults and mistakes that we can find so difficult to admit elsewhere. So prayer journaling is more than just a description of life’s events. It provides also a safe place to ponder and to reflect on the patterns of our lives. A prayer journal, I think, helps us to explore and to answer where or what is God doing in my life? Is God doing in my life, or what does God desire for me? That’s what it seeks to answer. So a prayer journey is really a place to express, in our own written words, our love for God, and it becomes a record of what we feel that the Holy Spirit is saying to us and what we are saying to God.

Are there particular ways of recording prayers?

Certainly, there are many different ways of using a prayer journal, but here’s an example that I’ll give you. It’s just one of many. Perhaps the focus is on an event or a day, or on a passage of scripture, or on a relationship, or even some thought or image, and so to write the date on the page and what is the topic that you’re seeking to explore, and then to pray and ask yourself what happened? How did it make me feel? What did I think about? Do I need to take any action and if so, what? And in doing all of that, a prayer journal ought to be real. It ought to be private and cathartic, and a prayer journal ought to be honest and free before God, whatever I’m thinking or feeling.

Remember, in another podcast I spoke about the importance of that real honesty with God. Take to God whatever it is that I’m experiencing, not what I think God wants to hear, but if I’m praying from a moment of struggle or difficulty, then pray that. So let’s look at another simple example. You might start simply by writing God, are you there, or I need you right now? Or writing something like I’m struggling with this issue a lot lately and it has me frustrated because or I’m worried because or I’m so preoccupied with, or I just don’t think I can do whatever it is, or I’m so worried about this and that, worried about this and that. So, again, it’s taking to God that real, honest appraisal of what’s going on in my life, and I think such honesty is likely to move us then to more questions.

What should I do? What should I say? How should I act? Is this fair? Or the great question, why God?

And then really listen for God’s voice, listen to what God might want to be saying to us in whatever it is we’re expressing.

Don’t try to figure everything out yourself, but be quiet and let God speak and allow God to say anything that God wants, and to trust God. And often in a journal not always, but often the beginnings of your writings will often be a kind of a rant, or they’ll be a very cathartic thing when I’m just pouring out so much of what’s happening, but they will become, in the end, the most genuine, the most uninhibited, the most freeing, the most impactful, the most insightful. The best possible prayer the most impactful, the most insightful, the best possible prayer. Because I’ve been so honest with God and I’ve really put into words what I’m feeling and thinking and in doing that, in taking it from inside myself and putting it into words and to put it onto paper, is a step in enabling us to really reach out to God and to develop that relationship and to be really free and to wait and to listen. And God will speak and we have to be ready for whatever God wants to say.

Writing your prayers is really another way of staying focused, isn’t it?

Many people who use a prayer journal say that it does help them to stay focused, because for a lot of us and for people’s experience, it has taught them that they find themselves becoming really distracted in prayer and often staying too much in the head. Now, that’s an experience for all of us. Whether we’re using prayer journal or whatever method of prayer, we often come across distractions and we get stuck just thinking all the time. But writing can help people to remain focused and in addition to being focused and in addition to being focused, people often have said that they find a deeper sense of accountability because in writing things down, it’s challenged them to be responsible for what they say or what they want or what they need, and so it is a very good tool to help people keep focused and also to keep some kind of a flow happening in their prayer life, where each day kind of builds on the next and takes us on this wonderful journey with God.


The other benefits of journaling.

There are many, many other benefits, and I think keeping a journal allows us to look back at the history of our personal faith journey, at the history of our personal faith journey, and as we take time to look back through the pages a year, two years, five years from now we begin to notice patterns in our spiritual life.

We begin to see the questions that we continually struggle to answer. We see the areas of doubt that keep coming back. Are there times in which our faith and trust in God appear to be have been stronger than they really felt at the time? Were there times when we were tempted to give up, but somehow we kept going, we remained faithful, we were steadfast despite what was going on in life?

And I think another benefit to journaling is that in reading back across our prayer journal, gratitude often comes to the fore, because writing a prayer journal can help us to see God’s grace and presence and action in our lives, often in the most unexpected ways, and we can see more clearly, perhaps, how God’s providence really assisted us in our needs and how God may have answered prayers which we may have forgotten. And I think another benefit to prayer journaling is that it helps us to remember. We can easily forget God’s goodness and care, especially in the times of difficulty, so the prayer journal helps us to stop and reflect on what God has done, and a prayer journal can be a tool to really see and appreciate our personal growth, as well as helping us to understand ways or areas in our life in which we still need to do more growing. And it allows us to look back and see how far we’ve come in our life, the progress that we’ve made, how far we’ve come in our prayer journey, in our relationship with ourselves, with others and especially with God.

Starting is probably the hardest part.

Like many new things that we all try to do or to start, it can be difficult to develop the discipline or the routine and the rhythm to start a prayer journal. Praying is key and it’s not always easy to find a consistent time, especially when life can be so unpredictable. But trying to find a time when we know we’ll be least interrupted makes the world of difference. And again, here’s an example of a very simple starting method for beginning a prayer journal. It might look like this Firstly, find a place of quiet, physically and mentally, doing our best to really put aside all of the outside distractions to try to put them to rest or leave them aside for this time of prayer. And secondly, invite Jesus into your heart, always having that faith that he knows what he wants to say to us and he knows how best to answer us. And thirdly, use the prayer journal to really get in touch with the inner voices. Use the opportunity to get in touch honestly with how I’m feeling, whether it’s a good or bad feeling, whatever it is that I feel and think at this time, and bring that to Jesus. Record it in the journal, allow it to flow spontaneously. No need to check it or correct it, just allow it to come. And fourthly, use the prayer journal to identify any helps or hindrances to prayer, the high and the low points, the growth and the setbacks.

And I think another good way to be prepared for a prayer journal is to keep it somewhere prominent. A lot of people that I know who use a prayer journal keep it inside the front cover of their Bible so that when they come to use and pray with Scripture, the prayer journal is there, ready for them to be able to write down, to jot down whatever it is they believe that passage of scripture is saying to them, and then allow themselves to really listen and then to write what they believe God is saying to them in their response to that piece of scripture. And so I think it’s always about trying to set yourself that discipline of routine and rhythm. But I think once someone enters into it, it can be a very helpful tool in helping someone to reach out, encounter God, to say what’s most important for me at this time and allow God to enter into it and to respond to us lovingly, without judgment, but with abundant grace and goodness for how we might continue to live.

It’s just about routine.

As we’ve said constantly throughout these podcasts pray as you can, not as you can’t, so to pray in the way that is best for me, find the methods, find the time, find how it fits into my program and then just allow that time and space and that method to really help me to encounter and to listen to God.

I think it’s not about just going to a diary or a prayer journal and writing all things that are nice. If there are things that are nice, yes, write about them. If it’s a time of gratitude and praise and thanksgiving, that’s to be written. But if I’m really struggling this day with something, or I’ve got some difficult issue, or that there’s a person who’s driving me up the wall, or there’s disharmony in the family, or I don’t know whether to accept this new job or not, this is an opportunity to get all of that, all of those feelings, all of that emotion out from inside us and to get it out and to let the words write freely. And then I think, having done that, having had a rant, if you like, having just put it all out there, then we can begin, in a most wonderful way, to explore what it is the real issue and how I might take action or what might be the way forward for me, with God’s grace.