Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Some thoughts on prayer... and creating a GTD prayer journal

Prayer Journal... gotta be a moleskine

I've been thinking about prayer for a wee while now. I need to improve my prayer life... kind of get more organised and serious about talking to my Lord.

Asked Chris for some advice on prayer and he sent me this...
I've never really thought about "how to pray" so I just want to give you some ideas and see if any stick :)

* I assume you keep a prayer list, seeing as you asked Dawn and I to keep a journal ourselves? Writing down prayers is great - that's how I pray "formally" each day. You can either write down a list of items you want to pray for and just talk through them with God, or write your prayers as if writing a letter to God.

* Visualisation is useful, but I find this one hard to concentrate on for long. Someone once taught me to imagine that you're in a place you love... somewhere peaceful and where you feel comfortable. Imagine you see someone walking towards you and realise it's Jesus. You strike up a conversation just as you would with any friend... you talk about whatever's on your mind. Continue the conversation either out loud or in your head.

* Praying scripture :: look up passages that relate to whatever is on your mind, or whatever situation you are going through. Read them out loud. As you remind yourself what God has said in his word, affirm it and pray "let it be so".

* Praying with feelings :: This one's a bit weird, I guess, and some people don't like it at all. Sometimes words just aren't enough for what you're thinking and it becomes necessary to pray with your feelings. I don't really know how to explain this one other than, say, bringing to the surface how you FEEL about situations and asking God to work in them.

* Art :: You've seen the art used as worship at Roots - but you can draw/paint/mould/arrange things as an aid to prayer as well. As you think about what things symbolise, you can symbolically manipulate and move them as you ask God to take care of whatever it is you're thinking of.

Structure is useful, but don't feel that you have to have a structure all the time. Snatching bits and pieces of prayer here and there throughout the day is just as valid a way of praying as spending a concentrated time. It is, however, good to spend longer times talking and listening to God. Sometimes just sitting in silence can be helpful. Sometimes putting on a favourite or meaningful piece of music works... basically you have to find your own preference.
Thanks Chris for the advice.

So what do you think? How do you pray?

I tend to use my walk to the station in the morning as meditative time. Kind of like the feelings point mentioned above. Just let my mind wander... quietly trying to listen. Trying feebly to communicate my awe when I witness a sunrise... or my gratitude for where I am and what I have.

But I want to take it forward... move on...

As you know... I'm a big fan of moleskine notebooks... and I really like the super thin cahier (3 in a pack for about £4 something) - they make a great gift too... Gave one to Kenny last night for a prayer journal... and I have given ones to Olly... Chris & Dawn in the past ::

Kenny with his new cahier

I've been thinking about how to organise the cahier to make the best use of the limited space... and make my limited prayer time as productive as possible.

I was inspired by the hyalineskies way of getting things done and have been considering ways of incorporating some of the learnings from his post into my prayer journal. I suppose I should have hacked an info book but thought that to be a wee bit extravagant... for now.

First off... I am using the A*C*T*S mnemonic - Adoration... Confession... Thanksgiving... and Supplication - to annotate any prayers. Consider it a reason code for the thought.

After that I am seeking to use some of the tags hyalineskies' uses - inbox and next tasks remains as the first tag... and projects remains too... Basically, I split the notebook in two... first half is dedicated to my inbox and the second half is dedicated to projects in the sense of specific activities that need considered. Pretty simple, really.

Taking this further...
For example, in the INBOX / NEXT PROCESSED section, the first two lines (pictured at left) are written as such:


The legend may seem fairly cryptic at first, but here’s what it stands for:

* DATE: The short date (e.g., 05/31) of the time the task was entered. If you don’t process tasks daily, this gives you an idea of the age of the task at hand.

* TASK: The actual task. This can span multiple lines if need be, but leave at least a half-centimetre margin on the right side for the WAIT? boolean (which I’ll explain in a second.)

* (REF): A reference number. If this task was moved forward in the list and not dumped into a project, you can then reference the page of the original task here. If you’re really obsessive-compulsive, you could do something like page:line where the page number and line number correspond to the task.

* (ITERATION): An iteration number for tasks pushed forward. This gives you an at-a-glance look at how many times the task was moved forward; it also gives an idea to the degree of “stubbornness” of the task. You increment this value every time you process tasks and push them forward.

* [PROJ.]: Put a page number in square brackets when processing a task to denote that you’ve spawned a project off of the task. In this case, you get a reference number to a page in the notebook’s PROJECTS section, so you can track where the Project was created and why that might’ve been the case.

* WAIT?: If you’re waiting for a response from somebody, simply put an X in this “column” of the page. If you followed the above rules, this is a constant margin down the side of your page. This way, on processing tasks for the day, you have a quick visual cue to all of the tasks you’re waiting for someone or something else before you can take action.
Taken from

If you change tasks to prayers... and swap wait? for answered you start to see where I am coming from.

Reference the prayers and give them an iteration number... such as [1.0] - if the prayer develops... alter the iteration [1.1] (this amalgamates [ref] and [iteration])

I also intend to add a further column ((between [reference/iteration] and [project]) for A*C*T*S and actually quantify my prayers - this makes me think about the why of the prayer and also lets me see the types of prayers I pray. Object of this exercise is to see if I balance my prayers.

Projects are groupings of prayers on a specific topic... such as ((deep)) and following hyalineskies' advice... I need to:
format the PROJECTS section like the INBOX session, but devote a whole page to a project when a project is started.
Makes sense. Will pull it all together and let you see it.

Any feedback? Any ideas? Leave a comment.

My gratitude to Chris and hyalineskies for their inspiration.

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Anonymous said...

Where the fonz do you get your Cahiers from for only £4?

weareallghosts said...

The Artstore in Glasgow. They have a 25% sale on too.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading this item, Thomas. I will want to get more structured and will return to the ideas you have outlined some time this year (DV). I am presently looking simply at the occasions I pray - personally, with Mum, at Church etc. - and seeing where improvement is necessary.

It is my essential "change one thing" item spiritually and I will be interested in your progress. It needs discipline, endurance and dedication for "..effective, fervent prayer.." But so much depends on it.


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