A Practice: Prayer Journaling

I am somewhat surprised at how much prayer has become an important part of my spiritual practice, since I did not grow up with a prayer practice (agnostic and pagan parents) and my chosen tradition (Unitarian Universalism) is not super comfortable with prayer. And then as a not-quite-theist, a person who doesn’t believe in capital G, personified and human-like thinking patterns, God who and what exactly am I praying to?

And yet prayer has become a big part of my practice. Am I sending my prayers into a void? What if so? Don’t we sing even when we are alone? Do prayers “work”? How so? Like a magic spell that is guaranteed an outcome? Then no, of course not. Do they work like a smile or a hug? That is more how I experience prayer. It is a way to express and release, in however fragile a way, what is in my heart.

So one of the ways that I pray is with a prayer journal. It is a super humble little composition book, and I have been writing prayers in it for many years now. Sometimes I look back through the prayers and find reminders of what was on my heart in past years: people I knew who were struggling or ill, natural disasters around the world, mass shootings, reports about climate change and struggling species going extinct, and more. Some people show up in my prayer journal a lot, others I can’t remember now who that was (I use initials only so that adds to the mystery sometimes). But at some point I offered a sincere prayer up for that person.

Here is a prayer I wrote yesterday during my morning spiritual practice time, pictured above:

The relentless killing in Palestine,

The war going on in Ukraine

refugees everywhere, and not enough compassion

walls being built

Nex Benedict

Anti-trans laws continue to be passed.

Frozen embryos declared people in Alabama

We spent homeless services $ on Boulders

to make the roadside uninhabitable.

My best tightens, my shoulders clench

This is All wrong, So wrong

Can a prayer help?

it can’t hurt

So I pray.

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