Study or prayer?

I’ve been a christian since 1989 and for almost all of that time I have laboured with a huge feeling of guilt. The conservative churches and ministries that I was a part of all gave me the same message: you must spend time with God in prayer and bible reading every day. Most people said that this “quiet time” had to be in the morning before the day had begun.

I have guilt from the fact that I like to sleep in the morning. I’m a night-owl like the rest of my family. Over the time I’ve been a believer I’ve never really got into the “daily devotions” thing. Dont get me wrong, I love to read the bible and pray, but doing it every day??

In the last couple of years the guilt has faded. I’ve picked up with an older tradition than the conservative evangelical folks were pushing at me. The old Catholic contemplative tradition of prayer journalling has really stuck with me. I dont know if I do it “right” but it has certainly brought me closer to my Lord and Saviour.

We got talking about prayer in one of the Alpha course meetings recently. It’s known among the other leaders that I journal. If I am praying for something specific, I write it down — sometime in the future I can go back along the list and see what God’s done to answer the prayers. Someone asked how I journal, how does it work? Do I write and then pray? Do I journal as I read the bible?

It’s really hard to answer that question. Journalling, for me, is prayer. It’s a devotional exercise and I am maintaining a dialog with God as I read and write. I cant draw a clear line to say where the prayer starts, the bible (or other book) reading stops and the journalling begins.

All this is to lead up to an old Jewish proverb I found recently. It sums my situation up perfectly:

“An hour of study is in the eyes of God as an hour of prayer”

If you want a greak book on Spiritual Journalling, I would suggest Listening Prayer : Learning to Hear God’s Voice and Keep a Prayer Journal by Leanne Payne. While I disagree with some of her theology, she does give a thorough and practical introduction to journalling.

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