Many industries rely on charts. Health care workers chart vital signs, fluid levels, symptoms and reactions to medication. Publishers of books and music chart sales by category, age of audience, geographical region, and more. Transport and shipping companies chart routes, weather, road construction, and fuel efficiency.
Keeping charts, graphs, and records can improve performance, solve mysteries, and increase understanding. It is good to keep charts in our Christian walk, as well. Charting scripture can show us where we have or have not studied God’s promises, warnings, and wisdom. Charting our prayer life can show us patterns in our communication with God, and help us see when and how God has answered our prayers.
I keep a prayer journal. Each day of the year has its own page, with lists of people to pray for in general, a geographical region, and more immediate special requests. But the back of each page has blank space. This way, as God answers prayers in these areas, I can record them. I’ve been using this journal for three years now, so the back sides are beginning to get filled up.
But that is not the most amazing part of what I wanted to share today. The most amazing part is that I have had to revisit some of the answers because God keeps answering them! Here’s a case in point: About two years ago, I wrote in a request for a friend who was looking for a job. There was a promising interview, and many friends were praying for a “positive” outcome. The job seemed like a perfect fit. But it didn’t happen. More prayers led to other opportunities and one of them seemed to be working out. I wrote the “answer” in my journal. But when I came across it again this year, I realized that God used both the previous opportunities to prepare my friend for something even better: a job that no one imagined two years ago! We prayed, expecting God to answer with something good. When the first answer was “no,” we trusted God to bring about something else. And He did. But I’m glad that I had charted this request, because I almost missed seeing how God used prayer to prepare for more that we had asked!
Another friend was going through grief and distress just a little over a year ago, and I was reminded of how God answered prayers for strength, peace, and rest. But I was also reminded to lift my friend up again on a painful anniversary, and to offer thanks for the ongoing healing I’ve seen– not just for my friend, but for her entire family.
If you don’t do it already, I highly recommend making a prayer diary or journal. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated– I use wire-bound theme books and write in them daily. But you could use an actual bound journal, or a simple memo pad or old address book. Don’t worry if you miss a day or two– no one is keeping score or grading you–the main thing is to make it a habit to record prayers and answers. You will gain insight, remember God’s answers and promises kept, and be encouraged in the wait for other answers to come.