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December 29, 2019

How to Use a Prayer Journal: 4 Tips for Creating a Solid Prayer Habit

Reading time: 7 min.

Shaking things up from my typical content and talking about how I’ve used a prayer journal the past few years to cultivate a practice of prayer—plus I’m giving a review of the Val Marie Paper prayer journal, so you can see how they may help you out like they’ve helped me! If you’re looking for prayer journal ideas or a prayer journal for women, you’ll get loads from this one to fashion into your own system.

So many of us probably wish we prayed more, but maybe you’re like me: I realized I would say “I’ll pray for you” to friends and family all the dang time  … but then never follow through.

It just became a nice thing to say!

(Surely I’m not the only one … right?)

Val Marie Paper prayer journal review and tutorial from Ashlyn Writes

Today, I want to share 4 tips for creating a habit of prayer using a tool that has helped me so much, and how I’ve used prayer journals from Val Marie Paper.

Over the years of small business ownership, I’ve gotten to be friends with Val and truly look up to her so much. She’s a prayer warrior, a disciple of figuring out how to pray, and has de-mystified a topic that intimidates so many Christ-followers (or heck, even if you are just starting to ask questions about the Christian faith, it’s probably even MORE freaky feeling to start talking to God—I can only imagine, and totally respect you for that!)

do affiliate for Val’s journals—like I always say though, I never recommend anything that I don’t use myself. I get a small commission if you purchase through my link below, but my hope is that this little non-marketing-related blog gives you some ideas about growing your prayer life in the new decade! I use her prayer journal for women, but she has a ton of other great books and tools for families.

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How to Use a Prayer Journal | My Val Marie Paper Prayer Journal Review


Tip #1: Un-woo-woo prayer in your mind—get practical about it!

Not everyone loves to pray, and I understand that. If that’s you, and you’re like, I don’t even know where to start, I’m confused, I’m overwhelmed and it’s honestly kinda boring to pray—I GET IT. I’ve been there. I feel like everyone goes through that, I don’t want you to think you’re crazy.

What I recommend is just taking the woo-woo/mysticism out of it and starting to look at it practically.

I think you’ll find the Lord wants to meet you there. He didn’t design talking to him to be something that’s only attainable for a few people—it’s open to you, sister!

“Jesus wants us to come to him without pretense when we go to him in prayer,” Paul Miller says. It’s not a “come to me, everyone who’s mind doesn’t ever wander in prayer because you’re such a good concentrator” kind of thing.

Reading PRACTICAL books and articles on prayer has totally helped me with that. It’s also impacted my prayer journal ideas machine … the pages of my prayer journal are often littered in ideas that are gleaned from books.

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(Example—I read Tim Keller’s book “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness” recently. It was a brain explosion in the best of ways. And filling out the pages for January in my 2020 prayer journal, I scribbled in tons of quotes and realizations I had from the book. So if you can’t think of ideas to pray about, I recommend simply writing down “wow, I wish I was like THAT” moments you’ve had in recent books!)

I read Gospel Coalition a lot (Be careful with false teachers! There are so many Bible/”spiritual” teachers out there who aren’t teaching truth, which is why knowing what Scriptures say for ourselves is so important. That’s another soapbox/blog post, but Gospel Coalition is a good source for articles and book recommendations that are theologically sound.).

5 of my favorite books on prayer are:

A Praying Life by Paul Miller (I would recommend starting with this one if you’re a little overwhelmed—I think it breaks things down the best!)

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald

The Power of a Praying Woman (or The Power of a Praying Wife) by Stormie Omaritan (old school, and SO GOOD!)

The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster (A little tough/heady, but really good!)

To note, my not-so-favorite/read-with-a-grain-of-salt prayer books are Fervent by Priscilla Shrirer (SORTA. I’m half-and-half on this one), Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize.

The other thing that’s helped me get practical are this prayer journal for women from my friend Valerie at Val Marie Paper. I used to scribble prayers in different notebooks, but I’m going to tell you through the video how I’ve used a specific journal JUST for prayers to help me create a habit.


Tip #2: Make a daily prayer journal part of your morning routine

Okay, number 2! Having a morning routine, even if it’s super stripped down some mornings has helped me make prayer a commitment.

Y’all, a 10 minute routine STILL COUNTS.

Now, the morning routine I go through (PRESENT) is my favorite because it can expand or contract based on life seasons. I know this will change with a newborn!

Check out this post for my full morning routine!

But, if I don’t commit to prayer through my morning routine, it’s just simply not going to happen. Again, not going to jump into the full routine because I did a whole blog on it, but I wanted to bring it up as something that’s helped tremendously cultivate a regular practice of talking to God.


Tip #3: Make it physical and in the moment

Like I said at the beginning, being someone that grew up in the church, “I’ll pray for you”/”How can I pray for you” is like, Christian talk that has lost its weight.

It’s so important we don’t throw those words around.

It’s important that we honor our words—if we say we’re going to pray for someone, we need to do it.

When someone asks you to pray for them, do it on the spot (I’m not saying you have to do it out loud, but like, if you wrap up lunch with a friend who needs prayer, why not just turn down the music and pray in the car for a moment?). Do it right when you think about them.

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Another way of making it physical is being a little creative with prayer journal ideas—Val’s journal gives gah-reat prompts (seriously, so helpful!), but you can loosey-goosey her topics if you’d like, which is nice.

Going through the sections each month has helped me write specific things to pray through. I just pray over one page every day, so it looks like:

  • Monday – World, nation, community
  • Tuesday – My husband, my son, and my family <– this one is huge. I have my family’s names written down, and I list what they need me to pray for. It’s helped me check in regularly with them!
  • Wednesday – My friends, salvation, and current aches/hurts <– this one is LIKEWISE huge. I have my friends’ names written down, and just like the family thing, I pray specifically for things they’ve told me they need prayer for.
  • Thursday – Things I need prayer over c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y and my big goals
  • Friday – My business, friends struggling with infertility/family
  • Every day – Verses and words the Lord’s put on my heart, thanking him for answered prayers

I actually write down things people ask me to pray for now!


Tip #4: Make one of your prayer journal ideas to note when prayers are answered

This also has made me want to pray more, which is cool. “When we see God really working as we pray, it’s easy to keep praying,” Val has written before. Agree.

I’ve seen how days just GO better when I start them with prayer time.

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Here’s how I do that:

  • I mark down 3 things every day in the back section of the Val Marie Paper journal—it’s SO COOL to look at this list after there are a few hundred things written down! You have a moment of seeing wow, God’s pretty faithful!
  • I write down big prayers that have been answered in each month
  • I answer these 5 questions at the end of every month (usually in my Powersheets, but my VMP prayer journal tends to be a reference point for this practice):

✖ What did God teach me this past month?
✖ How did I see the month going?
✖ What actually happened?
✖ What were my wins? Disappointments?
✖ What were 3 lessons I learned?
✖ If this month had a “theme, what would it have been?


If you’re looking for a tool that can jump-start your prayer journal ideas or any type of prayer journal for women, I do have to say this tool has been so helpful for me since I started using it in 2018.

I’ve got so much to learn … marriage gets tough, business gets tough, mamahood gets tough, and my pride and selfishness sicken me all the time. BUT, learning how to bring things to the feet of Jesus and go to HIM as my King and rock has been catapulted by learning to love prayer. A lot of that I attributed to having Val be a mentor-from-afar in my life. 🙂

Click below to shop Val Marie Paper’s prayer journal for women, books, and more, and tell me below—what’s a tip that has helped you remember to cultivate a prayer life?

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  1. Angela says:

    Love this post! I’m about to get started with my yearly edition of VMP’s prayer journal, and I gave the 6-months as Christmas gifts to family and friends this year. Love! And AMEN for watching out for false teachers. There are so many who are so popular right now, and it scares me. Praying for discernment is at the top of my list! xo

    • Thanks so much for those kind words, Angela! While Ash’s on maternity leave, we’re replying to all of our friends online, but we’ll make sure she hears how much you loved this post. xo. Team AW

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