The Importance of Spiritual Memorials in Your Life
I remember when my grandmother taught me how to prayer journal. It was nothing fancy or complicated, but through her spiritual discipline, she taught me the importance of recording the requests I plead before God. She has notebooks upon notebooks filled with intercessions on behalf of herself and her family and friends. And in the margins, she has recorded God’s answers to those prayers. And each notebook, each line, serves as a memorial of God’s grace, faithfulness, and sovereignty.
Just a few days ago, she text me a picture of her journal entries for me from six years ago. As I read through the requests she prayed at the time, I was reminded how great is God’s faithfulness. She requested that God would guide me in choosing the right college. That He would help me not find my identity in whether or not I was my high school’s homecoming queen (I know it seems silly, but that’s what seventeen-year-old Bethany struggled with). That I would grow to be a godly woman who hears His voice and obeys. My first response was love and thankfulness for a grandmother who has intentionally interceded for me for more than twenty-four years. But my second, and even stronger, response was intense gratitude for the God who was faithful to answer each of her requests. I chose a university where He was able to develop skills and passions in me. I was not chosen homecoming queen, and through it I learned to find my value in Him. I have vastly matured in my faith and grown closer to God. Praise Him for His unfailing faithfulness in my life.
Our God is a God who answers prayer. But we are so quick to accuse Him of silence or apathy. Why is this? It is because we forget our prayers soon after we pray them and never look back to see how He heard and responded to our petitions. Like spoiled children, we only notice God’s answer to our prayers when it’s not what we wanted, when we wanted.
This is where prayer journaling can serve as a testimony of God’s faithfulness and provision. If we record our requests, even in something as simple as a list, then return to them days, months, even years later, we will see a pattern of God’s work in our life. His answers are not always conspicuous or earth shattering.
Sometimes He works quietly and slowly, and we’ll miss it if we’re not looking.
A prayer journal reminds us to look for God’s answers. We begin to expect God to work because we have seen how he has worked in the past. For example, lately, I have been struggling with overcoming a stronghold in my life; I feel like I can never get through something so contrary to my flesh. But as I was reading through my prayer journal from last year, I saw how God helped me overcome a seemingly insurmountable temptation. A sin that, just a year ago, I thought I would never defeat is now only a minor issue in my life. If God is a God who can get me through that then I know that He can help me tear down this stronghold. That is how spiritual memorials in our life work. They spur us on to love and trust God more because we have testimonies of His work in our life.
God wants us to remember His handiwork in our lives and in the lives of those we pray for. When God was bringing up the Israelites, His chosen people, from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, He commanded them to remember what he had done. He told them repeatedly to set up reminders of what He had done for their nation.
God commands us to remember because He knows that forgetfulness eventually leads to faithlessness.
Deuteronomy 8:11-18 says, “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
The Israelites were led astray when they forgot to praise God for keeping His promises towards them. In this passage, Moses gives a direct correlation between forgetfulness and disobedience. When we forget to praise God for how He has guided us, blessed us, and carried us through difficult times, we start crediting our good fortune to other things in the world or even to our own abilities. A prayer journal reminds us that it is not through our own power or the powers of this world that our prayers our answered; it is through the sovereign faithfulness of God.
It is not too difficult a task to keep a journal or a sheet of paper—or even a sticky note in the back of your Bible—to record the faithfulness of God. Start listing the struggles you’re facing today, and tomorrow do the same. Keep a record of all the sins, issues, and decisions you lay at the Father’s feet, and in a few weeks look back at the top of the list. I promise you that you will begin to see the sovereign hand of God working in your life. And when you do, praise Him. For His faithfulness, for His enduring love, for His compassionate heart, for His unending grace.
Praise Him for being a God who hears the prayers of broken, selfish people and is gracious enough to answer them even when He knows we might not say “Thank you.”
So set up reminders in your life today of God’s faithfulness and watch your faith and love for Him grow exponentially.