By: Emily Miller
One of the first practices I added into my quiet time was writing out prayers as I read. I keep a list of names, groups, and other specific things: gratitude (something I’m thankful for), praise (something great about God), my day, my quiet time, my future, etc. Every morning I write out prayers from the list for each section of scripture I read through. I’ve done this for over a decade now and have discovered many benefits, here’s just a few:
1) Becoming less self-centered
At first I would write out a lot of prayers about me, my future, my struggles, my day etc. Then, as Jesus continued working in my heart, I gradually began thinking about others more and me a little less. I started keeping a list of names: family members, friends, and anyone who would ask me to pray for them.
I usually begin my quiet time from a pretty self-focused perspective (I’m tired, I have so much to do, What am I looking forward to today? What am I going to get out of this time? Jesus, speak to ME… me, ME, ME!). Just the act of praying for someone else shifts my gaze enough to focus on serving the needs of others, instead of being quite so swallowed by my own.
2) Relying more on Scripture (and less on my own opinions)
Have you ever heard a prayer request and had an opinion on it? Someone requests prayer for health or a new car or a spouse and I’m compassionately nodding along, all the while thinking anything between: “You probably need a little health trouble to make you less whiny. God make ____ less whiny” and “God, they’re suffering so much and it just isn’t fair. Take away all suffering and may _____ live happily ever after married to ______.” It’s easy to pray from my own perspective on what’s best for another person (or myself!) instead of actually praying in dependence on the Holy Spirit (The One Who actually knows the best what, when, and how for each person). Writing out prayers from Scripture is a great way to challenge my perspective, realize how little I know, and give us all over to the One Who knows and loves us far better than I can.
3) I learn what I write
We learn in a variety of ways. Each of us has a couple of styles that come more naturally than others: I tend to be visual more than audible (give me a page of words over an audio bible any day) and I have to physically engage with something to really get it (writing out a verse is a whole new experience from reading a verse). If I really want to understand something I read it, read it again out loud, and then write it out. Over time this technique fills my mind with the word of God. I have hidden His word in my heart by simply writing out prayers.
4) I keep my word better
A friend shares the depth of her pain, I don’t quite know what to say, so I helpfully mutter, “I’ll pray for you”. Unless I push out a quick “Lord, please help ___”, I often forget to pray. Now, when I promise to pray for you, I write your name on my list, and you are prayed for during my regularly scheduled meeting with Jesus. This lends added purpose to my quiet time and I can sincerely promise to pray for someone without being worried that I’ll promise something that I’ll forget to do.
5) I have a record
I often don’t realize how many of my prayers have been answered until I read back over my old prayer journals. God’s answered me many, many times. My ragged prayer journals serve as an account of His faithfulness to me through every season. Just reading through old prayers can serve as a weapon against my apathy and forgetfulness and a gift to revive my faith and hope.
Emily is a mother of two young children and has little time for much else. She began a daily quiet time at age thirteen, and her relationship with Jesus has remained a constant for Emily as she went from being a missionary kid in Mongolia, to working as a barista in Oregon, to marrying and starting a family in Florida. Emily enjoys writing poetry, dancing while doing housework, watching storms, and laughing at her husband, children, and herself.