Spiritual Practice

Writing Prayers

Christian Sexton, 19

I have a tendency to daydream, which comes in handy for writing, but not for praying. I could never, ever finish a prayer. My mind would get off track and wander, whether I was on my knees, praying in a group, or giving thanks for my food.

I knew that prayer was important. The Bible even tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV). When I was little, I wanted to be a prayer warrior. I wanted to see miracles happen and know that I had played a part in them; but as a teenager, I just wanted God to hear me when I needed help.

Everyone told me to buckle down and pray. “Just do it! Pray for what you should and be done with it.” So I found a quiet place alone, asked forgiveness for my sins, prayed for my family, and so on. I began reciting ritual prayers. I felt nothing, as if I were praying to a brick wall. To be honest, I dreaded praying because it was boring. When I faced trials in my life, I needed prayer to be more than an empty ritual.

I was desperate for a better prayer life. One night, I sent up a genuine prayer: “God, help me get close to you. Just show me how. I want an actual relationship with you.”

Dear Lord,
I think it would be better if I wrote my prayers to you because I’m much better at writing than talking. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


God values honesty and gave me an idea: Write letters to God. I remember my first:




prayer journal entry2 IMG_20150818_120518

Soon I was writing in my prayer journal every day. The entries grew longer because I loved it. I actually talked to God. I told God stories about my day and wrote about the struggles I was facing. The best part was that I knew God was listening. I wasn’t simply scribbling my thoughts in a diary. I had the attention of an omnipotent God.

My prayer life continued to grow. As I began to see God working in my life and answering my prayers, I started reading the Bible because I wanted to know what God had to say to me.

My creative prayer tactics affect other people too. A year ago, I went on a trip with several church friends. I discovered that one friend was a lot like me; she could spend an hour in prayer and only seem to get out a few words to God. One day, she noticed me scribbling away on a notepad. When I explained that I was writing to God about a difficult situation, she decided to get a prayer journal too.

Praying is about more than calling on God when we need help. It’s fellowship and a relationship. Don’t worry about what to say, about feeling inadequate or not being heard. God understands even when we can’t find the words. God loves us more than we can imagine and is always working for good in our lives. We simply have to be honest with God, to trust, and to follow.



Bible Reading Guy2 TS 137299797Writing prayers isn’t the only creative way to pray. If you’re not into writing, try singing your prayers or praying the Psalms. (Look through the Book of Psalms to find prayers for every situation. My go to chapter is Psalm 18.) Some people prefer having prayer partners. I have friends who call each other and take turns praying together. Whatever prayer practice you choose, be honest with God. If you don’t know what to say, then start small. (You saw my first journal entry!) Each day, pick something different you want to pray about—and stick to it. A genuine relationship with God is worth the effort!

Christian Sexton, 19 , lives in a tiny town in the mountains of East Tennessee and is probably the only person there who can turn her fiddle into a violin.

—from devozine (January/February 2016). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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