7 Benefits of Writing Your Prayers
Take Your Relationship with God to the Next Level
“I give up!” Gwen said as she sat down at the table with her friend. “Prayer just doesn’t work for me. All these people in the Bible seem to have conversations with God where He actually talks to them. That never happens to me! I don’t even think my prayers go past the ceiling when I’m actually able to pray and not get sidetracked. If God is so interested in me praying to Him, why is it so hard?”
Have you ever felt this way?
I know I certainly have. In fact, I struggled for years with this.
I read all kinds of books and attended all kinds of seminars on prayer. I was looking for someone to give me the magic formula that would suddenly transform my prayer life into this highly spiritual interaction with God that would instantly transform my life.
What I discovered, after decades of grappling with this issue, is that it takes time and effort to begin to recognize the voice of God. He doesn’t speak in some huge, earth-shaking voice. In fact, I have never audibly heard the voice of God speaking to me. And I don’t know of anyone who claims to hear the audible voice of God.
However, we can learn to recognize God’s presence and His still small voice when we are praying if we are willing to put in the time and effort. That’s why God says in Psalms 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” We have to shut out all the distractions, as much as humanly possible, so we have the space to commune with God.
Then, we need to recognize that developing any relationship requires time. The same is true of our relationship with God. It doesn’t happen overnight. (Read: Why is Prayer and Bible Study so Key to a Living Relationship with God?)
We have to choose to spend time daily in prayer and Bible study.
Then it takes time to train our minds to stay present. (Read: 5 Strategies for Staying Focused During Prayer)
And, finally, we can learn to recognize when God is speaking to us.
For me, the most effective way to do this is by writing my prayers. Of all the strategies I have tried, writing my prayers provides far more benefits than just helping me stay focused and present during my prayers.
What do I mean?
Writing allows me a level of reflection and connection with God that no other method offers me. The other strategies that don’t involve some form of writing that I shared in the blog 5 Strategies for Staying Focused During Prayer, definitely make prayer more effective, but they lack a lot of the benefits that I am about to share with you here.
Here are seven benefits I discovered that come from writing your prayers.
1. You never lose your train of thought.
If I get sidetracked, I can easily pick up where I left off by reading what I wrote before my mind took a trip and continue on.
2. Writing your prayers slows you down enough so God can speak to you.
This is huge!
When I don’t write my prayers, it is much easier to make it one-sided. I just say everything I need to say, give thanks, say amen, and begin my day without ever taking the time to listen to God.
But when I write my prayers, it slows me down enough that God can get a word in edgewise.
What do I mean by that? Well, let me explain.
They say the average person can think at a rate of about 800 words per minute. And if I am praying in my mind, I utilize all of those 800 words per minute between my mental sidetracks and my prayer. God has a hard time finding any silence, any pause, where He can make Himself heard.
However, I can only type about 70 words per minute and handwrite maybe 30 words per minute. This leaves a silence of 730 to 770 words per minute for God to utilize. That gap—that silence—allows God to make Himself heard.
Which brings me to my next benefit.
3. Writing helps turn your prayers into dialogues instead of monologues.
After all, the Bible does say that we should expect to hear from God. While it is true that the primary mode that God utilizes to speak to us is His written Word, the Bible, God still wishes to speak into our lives on a daily basis. He is a personal God. That’s why the Bible says:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27 NKJV
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21 NKJV
Writing facilitates this dialogue by creating the space for God to speak. However, we have to train ourselves to hear His still small voice.
How can I recognize that God is speaking to me during my prayers?
Here are the ways I have noticed Him speaking to me.
- When a Bible verse that is relevant to what I am praying about suddenly bubbles to the surface of my memory, that is God speaking to me.
- When the pieces of the puzzle fall in place and I can see an answer where I couldn’t before, I know that God is working with me.
- When a problem I am praying about flips and I see it from an angle I never would have thought of and suddenly I see a resolution, or it makes sense, or it brings peace, that is God speaking to me.
- Sometimes a question will come into my mind that makes me stop and think about what I am praying in a new way. That is God.
- Or sometimes the Holy Spirit convicts me to take a particular action; not because it feels good or right to me, but because it is biblical and it is God’s way.
When I pay attention to these communications, and write them down, I become more aware of God. I start realizing He is in conversation with me. It also trains me to pay attention to these types of interactions, to pay attention to the “still small voice.”
Not only does writing down these God-responses help me digest what God is saying but the more I do it, the easier it becomes to recognize His voice even at other times during the day.
It tunes my ear to His “radio” frequency, so to speak.
4. Writing down what God says to you increases the depth of your prayer and your connection with God.
First of all, when you begin to recognize that God is actually speaking into your prayer, giving you direction, answering questions, it is concrete evidence that you are connecting with God. There’s nothing better than knowing God is truly interested in you and is actually meeting with you in your space. It affirms your connection with Him. It adds depth and meaning to your prayer life. And you have a record of it!
However, when I write down what I sense God is telling me or showing me, it prompts me to take time to digest it more. To think a little deeper. Maybe ask some questions. Often God will open my understanding even more, lead me to more Bible verses, or add some clarification to the initial thought.
If I wasn’t writing my prayer and writing down what He is revealing to me, I would never go deeper than the initial “ah-hah” moment.
5. Writing your prayers, and God’s responses, helps you remember it better and provides a record you can refer back to later.
If God speaks to me during prayer, it is very easy to forget the majority or even all of what He said—within hours—if I don’t write it down. But if I write it down, I remember it better. Plus, I can refer back to it whenever I need to. Or, I can share it with other people if I want to.
6. Your prayer journal can become a source of encouragement when you are going through the inevitable valley in your Christian experience.
Over the years I have realized that, like every relationship, my relationship with God has its ups and downs. There are times when I feel so close to Him. It seems I hear from Him every day.
But then there are days, weeks, and sometimes months, when I don’t hear anything from Him. During these times of silence, in these valleys, reviewing my journals and reading how God spoke to me in the past strengthens my faith. It keeps me going when all I want to do is give up.
When God is silent, it’s good to be able to look back and know that He has spoken to me in the past. Which means I can rest assured He will do it again in the future.
7. It will give you better physical and emotional health over time.
Psychology has known for decades that “expressive writing or journaling” about traumatic events, stressful events, struggles you are having, even future goals, has long-range health benefits, both physical and emotional. (If you want a sample of the research on this, click here and here. Or Google it and see what you find. It might surprise you.)
Though it may be difficult or even painful to journal about traumatic or stressful events, it pays off later in better physical health and more emotional stability. They have established that expressive writing helps regulate stress, lower blood pressure, restore confidence, and even improve your mood long range.
Just imagine if you wrote about your traumatic or stressful events as prayers to God. If, like Hannah, you poured your heart out to God. (see 1 Samuel 1:1-18) If the simple act of writing them has its health benefits, those will be magnified 10 fold when you write them as prayers to God and listen for His responses!
If you want to deepen your relationship with God, tune your ear to hear His voice, really feel like you connected with God during your prayer time, try writing your prayers. It takes some practice, but I think you will begin to reap some of the seven benefits outlined above if you do.
Do you already write your prayers? Leave a comment below and tell me what benefits you have discovered from writing your prayers.