In search of the right, true faith

New Year’s Eve is upon me and my journey begins in search of the meaning of my Christian faith. A faith that I can share openly, honestly, and with my gifts. As I continue to wrestle with the concept of submission, I continue to write my spiritual memoir, a spiritual journey of faith.

Is the Christian faith a denomination?

Many people were taught their version of faith from their family traditions in an organized church – Catholic, Lutheran with three different Synods, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and others.

What about those who were not raised in a household of any denomination of the Christian faith?

Over the last several years, I have been asked the question, “How do I find the right church to attend?” I don’t know the answer to that question because I am still trying to answer it myself. I was raised in the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church and I still find myself asking that same question.

Translating the Word of God

I wonder how we can all read the same Bible and find something else written there. With the many different translations of the Bible, which translation should I be reading? Is the Catholic Study Bible translating the Word of God as the Lutheran Study Bible?

“Most High, Most Glorious God, Enlighten the darkness of my heart. Grant me the right and true faith, A certain hope, and A perfect charity, feeling, and understanding of You, So that I may be able to accomplish Your holy and just commands. Amen”

– St. Francis of Assisi, Prayer before the Icon Crucifix of San Damiano, 1206

Enlightening

My Prayer Journal

For the last several years for the purpose of reading and writing in my prayer journal, I have used a Daily Bible. Most daily Bible formats begin with a daily portion of the Old Testament and a portion of the New Testament with verses from Psalms and Proverbs. In 2018, I am using a New International Version Bible named, The Daily Bible, In Chronological Order 365 Readings, With Devotional Insights to Guide You through God’s Word, published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, c. 1984.

The compiler of this Bible, is Bible Scholar, attorney, and classroom teacher, F. LaGard Smith, who has spent a lifetime of teaching law and religion at Christian universities. As is written on the back page of this Bible, “This particular work is the outgrowth of a suggestion by Smith’s father, who early on implanted the idea that ‘somebody ought to put the Bible in the right order.’” Readings are divided into 365 easily readable sections varying in length up to 5 pages. Five pages may be too much for some at one sitting with busy life constraints, so I recommend reading what you can and then catch up when you can. I think God would rather we take in His Word to understand what he is saying than complete a self-imposed reading competition.

Journal Tools

If you are new to journaling, I recommend a journal and a writing implement that works for you. I carry my journal with me because God inspires me to write throughout the day. Plus, I don’t want to forget any of my questions, thoughts or experiences that I want to share in my journal. Currently, I have settled on Moleskine’s XL Cahier Journals in a 3-pak because the journal is flexible but sturdy and fits in my messenger bag/purse. As for writing in my journals, I use a fountain pen.

The Back Page

While I begin each journal with a verse and perhaps an inspirational verse or poem, I use the back-page of the journal for listing (and going left in the journal) the people and situations that require prayer. This is another reason for carrying my journal with me. I don’t want to forget those who have asked me for prayer. I begin a new journal when my journal entries and my prayers for others meet. One journal usually lasts me approximately 30 days.

I’m ready for the journey

God who created the universe, who set the world in motion is with me. I know He will be with me not just on joyful days, but on tough days too. God is with me every single day. He lifts me up and I know He is cheering me on as I draw closer to Him.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

May I pray for you?

Some of what I have shared in this post I have talked about in previous posts on how I journal and what I teach others on keeping a journal. For those of you who are new to The Prayer Journals, please reach out to me if I can answer any questions. A prayer journal is an intimate communication between you and God. You don’t have to be a master writer. Perhaps you are an illustrator, a painter, a poet, or a lyricist. Use your gifts to communicate with God however you wish in your prayer journal.

My extended prayer is that you will continue to read along in 2018. I don’t know where God is leading me, but I know He is with me. Whatever your journey, I know God is with you too, and you, my readers are listed on the back pages of my prayer journal.

Blessings on your day,

Sheri

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Daily Priority

To_Do_List

Now that my husband and I are empty-nesters, I envisioned more time to keep to a schedule for household chores, exercise, and a consistent writing schedule. My expectations for scheduling was to produce more time to do the two things I love to do the most outside of spending time with my family and friends which is reading and especially, writing. Yet one year has gone by since my youngest child has left the nest for college, and I still have not been able to stick to a schedule.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

I seem to be on my umpteenth attempt, but here I am again trying to formulate a schedule to get the laundry done, folded and stored away among other duties.

Relationships

Ultimately, the same failed attempts can infect about almost anything we are trying to accomplish, especially when it comes to our relationships with others. And for many, our relationship with God. My prayer journal has helped me to stay focused on God and my spiritual life. Yet, even my prayer journal has from time to time been set aside when my attention has been diverted because of health issues or any number of things.

Priorities

It is often said, “you make time for what it important.”

True. However, we are imperfect. And no matter how hard we try, our priorities can get mixed up even when it comes to our most important relationship which is with our Lord and Savior. We may miss church more often than we should and we can rationalize all day long why we missed Sunday service or other church event. Yet the fact remains, we miss out on valuable relationships with people who share our faith, the sermon message that keeps us refreshed and revved up to take on the coming week, and connecting not only ourselves to Christ but helping others to connect to Christ too.

Prayer journal

Our prayer journal is not meant to take the place of our church community, but rather enhance our communication with God.

The most common feedback I receive when discussing journal writing with others is, “I can’t seem to get into the habit of writing consistently in my prayer journal.”

Morning ritual

What has worked for me in keeping my prayer life, and particularly, my prayer journal a daily habit is to go to my favorite sitting area with a fresh brewed cup of coffee with my Bible and prayer journal. I even set my alarm earlier so I have plenty of “me” time with God. It’s quiet in the morning and the time I have spent in prayer and meditation gets my day started off on the right foot.

Even if you have small children or long commutes to work, early morning can be like me trying to keep up with getting the laundry done, folded and stored away. I encourage the idea of ‘setting appointments’ for your time with God and your prayer journal.
“If I can get myself up every day to get to work on time, how is it I cannot accomplish the same feat for my relationship with God?”

“Let this be your chief object in prayer, to realize the presence of your heavenly Father. Let your watchword be: Alone with God.” ~ Andrew Murray

What works for you?

Until I was in the rhythm of morning journal writing, I carried my prayer journal with me throughout the day and I still do. Whether I was in a waiting room or on a lunch break at the office, I had my prayer journal and fountain pen available. Rather than looking at my iPhone and posting to social media, I was mulling over my thoughts with God.

Getting in or out of the habit

Just like laundry, exercising, writing in my journal or attending church, I, too, have gotten out of the habit of making essential ‘appointments.’ God understands my daily struggles and my prayer journals have been the motivation to get me back on track and into the habit of making Him my first priority in all ways!

I often re-read my journals to reflect on how far He has brought me out of the wilderness of hurt, sin, and sorrow, and into the light of love, joy, forgiveness, and happiness. I know when I bring my every day struggles, big or inconsequential to Him in prayer and in my journal, I can accomplish all that He wants me to accomplish whether it is sharing Christ with others or, even if it is merely doing the laundry.

“Christ gives us confidence about… God’s presence. By ourselves we are not qualified in any way to claim that we can do anything. Rather, God makes us qualified.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Something new here at The Prayer Journal blog!

From time to time, I will be reviewing Christian themed books to help you in your prayer journey and journal writing experience. You will find all book reviews archived in the category “Journal Book Reviews.” Stay tuned for future book and devotional reviews.

“May the Lord Jesus Christ’s good will, God’s love, and the Holy Spirit’s presence be with all of you!” 2 Corinthians 13:13

May I pray for you?

I enjoy reading your input. Please message me here or email me at hoot@thebloggingowl.com

Twitter feed: @PrayerPrompts

Blessings!
Sheri

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