This post is the second in our series about Journal Prayer by guest blogger Bridget Mary Meehan. The first post “Exploring ‘Journal Prayer’ as a Devotional Practice” explored how journaling and prayer are naturally complimentary activities. In this post, Bridget Mary provides specific guidelines for Journal Prayer and offers exercises and prompts to initiate your practice.
The Practice of Journal Prayer
There are a number of different ways to keep a journal. One writer suggests that prayer journal beginners make a graph of their religious experiences by creating a time line. At the far left side of an oblong sheet of paper, write “Birth” and at the far right side write “Today.” As you move from Birth to Today, identify times in your life when you experienced deep faith in the Holy One’s presence, as well as those moments when you felt sadness and experienced difficulty. Reflect on events that have had an impact on your family relationships, your educational pursuits, your work experiences, your choice of vocation, your spirituality, and so forth. Concentrate on the high and the low times that stand out in your life journey – the purpose being to help you honestly focus on and distill the path of your own religious experiences.
There are several other ways to keep a prayer journal.
- You can write a letter to God, sharing some of your intimate thoughts.
- You might share your daily activities, feelings, joys, and sorrows or you might simply explain to the Holy One how certain significant relationships are influencing your life.
- Record and reflect on your dreams. Because dreams reveal truths about our attitudes and feelings that intellectual analysis can rarely accomplish, you may want to use your dreams as a source of material for journaling. Write the content of your dreams, and ask the Holy Wisdom to assist you in dream interpretation: the meaning or symbolic significance of characters, events, and locations. In your journal, record this dialogue between you and God. Recording the insights you received in your encounter with Divine Presence within the depths of your soul can help you become a more integrated person.
Regardless of the journal style you select, honesty is critical. Look into the depths of your heart to see both your strengths and your weaknesses, acknowledge their presence, and accept responsibility for them. Rather than making you feel insecure, this honest approach will put you in touch with the Loving God’s affirming presence. Do not write in your journal to impress others, but to see yourself as you really are: a unique and beautiful reflection of the divine image.
Do not be concerned about writing complete sentences, and do not worry about spelling, punctuation or how correctly you write. Write freely and honestly without judgment, trusting the Compassionate One’s healing love to touch your spirit. What you write in your journal is confidential unless you personally choose to let others read it.
Guidelines for Journal Prayer
Prepare your mind and body to write. Come to a state of rest before this period of prayer.
Allow your body to relax … Feel your head and neck relax … Relax your eyes, mouth, and chin … Let go of tension in the back of your neck and your shoulders … Feel your arms and hands relax … Relax your back and chest … Feel relaxation pouring through your stomach, hips, and knees … Feel your legs, ankles, feet, and toes becoming relaxed …
Repeat this sequence if you notice that any tense areas remain. When you feel relaxed and present, turn your attention to your journal.
Working now with your journal, pick one of the following prompts and begin:
- Write a letter to the Holy One about an area of your life in which you need healing.
- Write about the times when you have been the most appreciative of Divine Presence in your life or the times you felt loved and empowered by the Holy One.
- Write about the times when you struggled with doubt, temptation, confusion, anger, loneliness. Share your feelings with the Holy One. Remember to be open and honest.
- Write a letter to the Holy One about an area of your life in which you need healing. Look at the times when you were most appreciative of Divine Presence in your life, times you felt loved and empowered by the Holy One. Look at those times when you struggled with doubt, temptation, confusion, anger, loneliness. Share your feelings with the Holy One. Be open and honest.
- Invite the Holy One to communicate with you in a return letter. (You might actually write this letter, acting as the Scribe, or simply hear it in your heart.)
Many often wonder during Journal Prayer if the Holy One is really responding or if it’s their imagination. It is the belief of many wise healing ministers that any words that help you know you are loved and that lead you to deeper love come from the wisdom of the Spirit within you. These teachers explain that Journal Prayer can be as simple as writing a love letter to God and listening to the love letter God writes to you in return.
Additional Prompts for Journaling & Reflection:
- How did I feel as I wrote my letter to the Holy One sharing my need for healing?
- How did I feel as I read (heard) the Holy One’s response? Have I become more aware of the Spirit dwelling within me?
- Have I experienced the God of Love as a compassionate healing presence in my relationships?
About Bridget Mary Meehan:
Bridget Mary Meehan, MA, D. Min, ARCWP, a Sister for Christian Community, is the author of 20 books including The Healing Power of Prayer, New and Expanded Edition available on Amazon.
She is a member of the pastoral team at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida.Bridget Mary presides at liturgies, officiates at weddings and offers sacramental ministry. She is an author of twenty books. Her work in communications media include programs about women priests on Google and YouTube. Bridget Mary was ordained a priest in the first USA ordination in Pittsburgh on July 31, 2006, and was ordained a bishop in Santa Barbara, California on April 19, 2009. She is one of the bishops in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and co-founder of People’s Catholic Seminary. You can read her personal blog at https://bridgetmarys.blogspot.com/