The next aspect of prayer journaling worth mentioning at this point of our journey is the social aspect. I expect you to be surprised by this because what most people enjoy about journaling is the safe place and privacy it provides. In journaling, we are alone with our thoughts, free to deal with them as we wish. One of the greatest benefits of expressive writing is the freedom to put our throughs and feelings into words and sentences without judging them, simply because there is no right or wrong way to journal. Even if we make errors in our grammar, it doesn’t really matter because we know that nobody else will see what we write.
But what would happen if they do? What if you had the possibility to share your prayers, stories or poems with others? Taking this thought further, what if you had the chance to write a story together with someone?
No matter how much I enjoy the privacy of journaling, writing together with a friend is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had.
Living in an individualistic culture it’s easy to forget that we were created for community. We are so used to being our own person that sharing with others often makes us feel uncomfortable. But the culture of the Bible is more focused on fellowship and it highly values community with public scripture reading and teaching, communal prayer and generous hospitality at the heart of it. We are called to share with others not only our faith but every aspect of our lives.
Psalm 133:1 talks about how beautiful and delightful when we live in harmony together.
James 5:16 Calls us to be part of our friends’ healing journey. James calls us to confide in each other and pray for one another’s wellbeing and restoration, expecting great things to happen!
The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.James 5:16
Prayer journaling with a community is a creative way to share our lives with others. Writing prayers, scripture- inspired stories or poems together promotes trust and a deeper understanding of one another. Listening to our friends’ thoughts and feelings expressed in a prayer or a story can engage our attention in a different way than a simple conversation does. Writing together with others engages our memory, attention and improves our communication skills.
Prayer journaling with trusted friends has so many benefits that it’s definitely worth a try. Here are some ideas for how you can start.
- Schedule a virtual gathering (or in-person whenever it is safe and allowed) with a few people and read a Bible passage aloud together. It only takes a couple of minutes to read a Psalm, about 20 minutes to read the letter to the Ephesians or the book of Ruth.
2. Pray before you listen and ask for God’s Spirit to help you understand and respond.
3. Listen for repeated words and patterns. You may feel that God highlights certain words or phrases and speaks to your heart through them. Write down keywords you personally find inspiring and meaningful.
4. If you consider yourself a visual person and you might find it helpful to doodle images or to imagine what you hear like it was happening in a movie.
5. Share any idea, picture, character or experience that you have found particularly relevant, inspiring or just captured your attention.
6. Start experimenting with ways to write a prayer or a short story together. You can go around the group and have each person add a sentence. You can choose a character together and start to talk about how you imagine his or her experience and write a prayer from that point of view. You can try to imagine different possible outcomes of a story, or write the same story into a modern time context. What would the same story look like today? You will be surprised how much easier it is to talk or write about your experiences and feelings through the filter of a Bible story.
There are many different ways to go about this, once again, there is no right or wrong way to journal, whether you write alone or with others. The only limit is your creativity and your courage to engage and share your thoughts and ideas with honesty.
Have you ever tried journaling with others? Would you give it a try? I would love to hear what you think!