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7 Reasons to Keep a Prayer Journal Infographic: How to Keep a Catholic Prayer Journal

Worried about the pandemic, the election, hurricanes and fires, climate change? Quarantined and need help shifting your focus away from all your worries? Or just want to do something productive and healthy?

You should start keeping a prayer journal. Here are 7 reasons why, plus an infographic: 

"A Goal without a Plan is just a Wish"

-- Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry 

Why Keep a Spiritual Journal? 

Prayer is essential and journaling is an essential component of prayer. Through journaling, we can evaluate our thoughts, reactions, spiritual growth, and the way we apply God’s truth to our lives. A prayer journal is also very effective for evaluating where you have been and where God is leading you now. 

Even secular voices understand the importance of spiritual prayer journaling. Author Michael Hyatt says “What happens to us is not as important as the meaning we assign to it.  Journaling helps sort this out.”

Why keep a prayer journal? I have created the following infographic and compiled the following saint quotes on journaling to explain just that. 

7 Reasons to Keep a Prayer Journal

INFOGRAPHIC: 7 Reasons to Keep a Prayer Journal 

Feel free to share the following infographic on why you should keep a prayer journal: 

Notice that last step ... He should always be the End toward which we are striving. 

#1 Reason To Keep a Prayer Journal:
Spiritual Journaling Creates a Prayer Habit

The quality of prayer time depends on establishing good prayer habits, like a regular time and place and consistent journaling.  

Prayer is a habit that takes practice and repetition. Building our relationship with God, likewise, takes time and practice. Take the following quote from St. Alphonsus Ligouri:

Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends.

#2 Reason To Keep a Prayer Journal:
A Spiritual Journal Helps Us Self-Examine

Journaling helps you understand where sin is creeping into your life, and where grace is being fostered or smothered. Let the Holy Spirit help you understand yourself better. 

Journaling is an effective means of self-examination. Here is a quote on the importance of self-examination from Saint Augustine:

Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee. 

#3 Reason To Keep a Prayer Journal:
Journaling Helps You Focus Your Prayer

Journaling will reveal whether you allowed your mind to wander aimlessly in prayer or whether you were consistently re-orienting yourself to God and away from distractions. 

Imagine you are speaking to a loved one or a great friend in a busy cafe. Prayer requires that we direct the same focus to God's presence that we would in a quiet meeting with a loved one.

#4 Reason To Keep a Prayer Journal:
Prayer Journaling Helps You Understand Your Past 

You should review your old prayer journals. This will help you understand where God was working in your life and the full breadth of His grace over time. 

Here is another quote on understanding your past through prayer from Mother Angelica: 

#5 Reason To Keep a Prayer Journal:
Journaling Helps You Understand Your Prayer Seasons

You may see a series of images during your prayer that will only make sense upon journaling. If you don't journal, you will be missing out on a significant part of what the Holy Spirit is trying to communicate to you. 

It may just be an instant of your prayer, but that moment could be the key to your whole prayer hour. That moment will start to stand out as you journal. Otherwise, it may be forgotten entirely.   

#6 Reason To Keep a Prayer Journal:
Your Prayer Journal May Become a Witness  to Future Generations

We still have the prayer journals of many of the world's greatest saints. The world needs these records of some of the most beautiful lives ever lived in Christ.  

#7 and BEST Reason To Keep a Prayer Journal:

Become a Saint! What else is there?

St. John Paul II said pretty much exactly this:

"Become a Saint, and do so quickly." 

St. Josemaria Escriva echoed this, as well:

Not all of us can become rich, wise, famous. Yet. All of us - yes, all of us - are called to be Saints

Here is a quote on the simplicity of holiness from St. Therese of Lisieux:

Holiness consists simply in doing God's will, and being just what God wants us to be

New Catholic Prayer Journals For Women

Check out the new Prayer Journal for Catholic Women that my wife and I published together. It is a 52-week (or day) devotional for overcoming worry and stress and conquering fear:

Read even more about the new Catholic Prayer Journal HERE

The title comes from Padre Pio’s famous quote, but it was another holy person that inspired this book. It was Chiara Corbello Petrillo, surely one of the Church’s upcoming saints, who gave us the idea to create this prayer journal.

It started with my wife reading Chiara Corbello Petrillo, A Witness to Joy. She shared the book with all her sisters and girlfriends, and it spread like wildfire.

Why Keep a Spiritual Journal When Suffering from Anxiety?

I didn't realize there were so many women suffering from anxiety, often crippling anxiety. It may even be a silent pandemic.

It's frustrating for husbands, too. It's another one of those things we can't fix. We can be understanding - which isn't especially easy for us. We can make sure our wives get time enough recuperation time with their girlfriends and date nights with us. But, honestly, that's just a start.    

So, my wife and I made this prayer journal. If you are overcome with anxiety, we hope and pray you will find God in these pages, and He will give you comfort.

We also made a version for our sisters in Christ who are not (yet) Catholic :)

Another Catholic theologian, Mary Nadeau Reed, and I also made some more prayer journals for Catholic Moms and Catholic Homeschooling Moms:

Take a Look Inside: A Seven-Step Structured Prayer Journal

Here is a look inside the prayer journal. In that blank space under "Reflect", you will find a new Saint quote or Bible verse to "ponder in your heart" each week (or day):

How to Use the Catholic Prayer Journal

How to Use a Prayer Journal During Holy Hour?

This journal is an excellent companion for Holy Adoration or other kinds of Holy Hours. Use the journaling prompts to guide your prayers before the Blessed Sacrament. 

52 Week (12 Month) or 52 Day Catholic Prayer Journal and Daily Bible Verse Journal

There are several different ways to use this prayer journal. Though the journal is designed for 52 weeks of guided prayer, it could also be used for 52 days. Just use each weekly section as a day section, instead. This could also be a resource for Lent if you just use it for 6 weeks or 40 days. We hope this journal will adapt itself to your needs.

Each of the 52 weeks (or days, if you prefer) includes a seven-step prayer sequence modeled after the Examen prayer of St. Ignatius. The seven steps are (1) Breathe, (2) Become aware of God’s presence, (3) Thanksgiving, (4) Reflect, (5) Examination, (6) Contrition, and (7) Hope.

Journaling as a Spiritual Practice: 7 Steps

Here is a more in-depth look at the purpose and significance of these steps:

  1. The first step, Breathe, guides you through a breathing exercise that you can also use whenever you feel stressed, especially when you first begin to feel stressed. This breathing exercise can help you ward off a panic attack.
  2. Take time to become aware of God’s presence. Remember that He is closer to you than you are to yourself. He is with you right now, in the now. Let your soul come to rest, for as St. Augustine says, “Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.”
  3. Thanksgiving: A key to overcoming anxiety is re-orienting yourself to gratitude. That is, focusing less on your fears and more on God’s gifts to you. Lord, I realize that all, even myself, is a gift from you. Today, for what things am I most grateful?
  4. Reflect on the provided quote from the Saints or verse from Scripture. We chose these quotes and verses specifically to help you overcome anxiety. What words stand out to you? What comes into your mind as you reflect on the words? This is the meditative practice of lectio divina. Sit with these passages for five minutes or more each day through the week. Plant them in your mind, water them daily with reflection, and let them take root.
  5. Ask the Lord to guide you through your day and week. Jesus will take you by the hand to Examine the moments and experiences of your life. Wait and see what bubbles up in your memories. What is Jesus trying to reveal to you? Jesus might be saying “I was there in that moment” but you did not see me, feel me, or hear me. Over time, this exercise will help you to know that Jesus never leaves your side and to sense him always there.
  6. Contrition: Big or small, where, when, and how did sin creep into your day? Learning when you are tempted will help you remake your sin habits into virtues. 
  7. Learn to prayerfully anticipate the future in Hope. So much of our anxiety comes from unwarranted fear of the future. We dread events that may never come to pass. This exercise will help you shift your focus toward the good that is coming. The ultimate goal is to see God’s presence in all things.

Catholic Weekly Prayer Journal

A Weekly Prayer is also included. We chose prayers that are focused on overcoming anxiety through gratitude, healing, empowering, and surrendering.

Lastly, each week (or day) also includes a page of Prayer Goals. The goals include a section to list your Prayer Intentions, a Goals Checklist, and a place to list your weekly Acts of Love and Sacrifice:

  • Prayer Intentions: This is an opportunity to give your worries away to God. Imagine taking these intentions from your heart and placing them in Jesus’ outstretched hands. Prayer especially for those people who stress you or have hurt you or a loved one. This is an amazing way to sever the chains that bind you to hurt. 
  • Goals Checklist: We provide some helpful prayer and sacramental practices to help you grow in the practice of the Catholic faith. 
  • Small Things with Great Love: Here is a place to list the times that you did a small act for another person with great love. When you do the dishes when it’s not really your responsibility, when you apologize when it’s not your fault, when you forgive the rude person at the grocery store – write it down here. 

Lastly, be assured of our prayers for you, and maybe one day we will meet in Heaven ... where there’s no such thing as fear and anxiety.

Totus tuus!

Scott & Ashton Smith

Catholic Prayer Journal for Women: Sample Quotes from the Journal to Overcome Worry and Stress

Chiara Corbella Petrillo: Catholic Journal Prompts and Catholic Quotes

  • "Peace is experienced by the one who allows himself to be loved."
  • "Seen from the outside, all these trials are frightening. We wondered if we could ever confront anything similar. But each step is accompanied by a necessary grace."
  • "The past to mercy, the present to grace, the future to Providence ... Let us ask for grace ... each morning grace permits us ... to make it again to the evening."

Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta: Catholic Journal Prompts and Catholic Quotes

  • "Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin."
  • "Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus — a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you."
  • “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

    St. Augustine of Hippo: Catholic Journal Prompts and Catholic Quotes

    • "Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You."
    • "Watch, O Lord, with those who wake or watch or weep tonight, and give your angels and saints charge over those who sleep. Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ. Rest your weary ones. Bless your dying ones. Soothe your suffering ones. Pity your afflicted ones, shield your joyous ones. And all for love’s sake.”
    • “In my deepest wound, I saw Your glory and it dazzled me.”

    Catholic Prayer Journal for Women: Sample Prayers, Catholic Journal Prompts from the Journal to Overcome Worry and Stress

    A Prayer for Soothing Panic Attacks

    Dear God,
    I come before You to 
    Lay my panic and anxiety at Your feet. 
    When I’m crushed by my fears and worries, remind me of Your power and Your grace. 
    Fill me with Your peace 
    As I trust in You and You alone. 
    I know I can’t beat this on my own, 
    but I also know that I have You, Lord, 
    And You have already paid the ultimate price 
    To carry my burdens.
    For this I thank you. 

    “Take and Receive” Prayer

    Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, 
    My memory, my understanding, 
    And my entire will – 
    All that I have and call my own.
    You have given it all to me.
    To you, Lord, I return it.
    Everything is yours; 
    Do with it what you will.
    Give me only your love and your grace.
    That is enough for me. 

    Prayer for Calm

    My Lord and my God, 
    I do not know what will happen to me today,
    But what I do know is that
    Nothing will happen to me today
    That You and I together cannot handle.
    This thought is enough 
    To bring me to face the day in peace.  
    I adore you in your wisdom and love.  
    I commend myself into your hands with the complete trust.  

    A Prayer for Calming a Troubled Heart

    Loving God,
    Please grant me peace of mind 
    And calm my troubled heart. 
    My soul is like a turbulent sea. 
    I can't seem to find my balance, 
    So I stumble and worry constantly.

    Give me the strength and clarity of mind 
    To find my purpose and walk the path 
    You've laid out for me. 
    I trust Your Love, God, 
    And know that You will heal this stress. 
    Just as the sun rises each day 
    Against the dark of night.
    Please bring me clarity with the light of God.
    In Your Name I pray.

    Additional Catholic Prayer Resources for Women and Mothers

    Here are some additional Catholic prayer resources to guide you and supplement your prayer regime:

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