Recently I was chatting with a friend and prayer journaling came up. This is my journal – and this is as close as you’ll get to seeing what’s inside! This is just between God and me.
I keep a prayer journal, but I also sometimes think or speak my prayers. And, I must say that when it comes to confessing sin – thinking my prayers is by far the easiest!
When I think my prayers, after the thought is complete, the issue is closed. For example, if the Holy Spirit convicts me of a sin, I can almost painlessly think, “Oh, man, I shouldn’t have done/said/thought that. God please forgive me.” There. Confessed. Forgiven. Done. It’s almost like I’m a generic sinner confessing my generic sin.
Or, perhaps it’s more like, “God, please forgive my… Wait a minute, is that a cobweb, I really need to get the swiffer… actually I need to get up and dust and vac, and fold that last load of…
I’m sure you get the point.
Of course, there are times when thinking a prayer is the best option! In the heat of a difficult moment, conversation, confrontation, presentation, panic, or emergency, the “arrow prayer” shot straight up to God from my heart through my thoughts is the best way to unleash God’s power in the moment.
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” – Psalm 18:6 NIV
I also speak my prayers. Speaking my prayers of confession helps me to focus on God instead of the million things that could distract me. Speaking enables me to go a little deeper with God, to pour out my thoughts, feelings, my weaknesses, why I did what I did. It causes me to be a bit more introspective. When I speak with God my prayers are like a conversation with a friend.
“I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” – Psalm 38:18 NIV
I know that I am forgiven and my appreciation for God’s grace grows.
But then, there’s writing my prayers of confession. Have you ever written down your sin? It is not easy! My friend said, “When you write your sins down on paper, it’s as if the writing forces you to own them.” She’s right.
There are times when I’ll be writing in my journal, praying for others (yes, if you’ve asked me to pray for you, your name is in there!), or asking God for guidance and all of a sudden – Boom! He points out a sin in my life.
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to write out a confession – “Lord, God I _____ (fill in the blank).”
Somehow, the act of writing down my failures, short-comings, mistakes, or lapses in judgment causes me to see them more honestly. They are no longer dismissive, they are sin. Sins I must own. Sins I committed. Sins I must confess and repent of. Sins that only God can wash away.
Oh, don’t get me wrong – there are times when I’ve argued with God, “I don’t want to write that!” And, there have been times when I’ve written, then glued the pages together so that I would never have to see the ugliness of the words ever again!
But, oh, how sweet is the forgiveness and cleansing that washes over me. I know that God has taken the sin and thrown it into the depths of the sea.
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives transgression… You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” – Micah 7:18, 19 NIV
When I see the reality of my sin, I realize how much it cost God to forgive me. When I am forgiven much, I find that I love God much more deeply.
My sins may be hurled into the depths of the sea, but my journals are still here! Sometimes I look back through my journals to see how God has answered my prayers. It reminds me of his faithfulness. When I look back and see where I was and how he has brought me to where I am it causes my faith to grow. I know that God will continue to lead me and take me to where he wants me to be.
More important than keeping a journal is keeping a clean slate before the Lord. How clean is your slate?
How deeply do you love God? Are you taking your confession seriously? When you consider the extent of God’s forgiveness, does your love for God grow exponentially?