There was a time in my life when I found it very difficult to connect with God through prayer. I studied my scriptures every day, and walked in faith to the best of my ability, but when I knelt in prayer, it felt like my prayers were bouncing around inside the room. My thoughts went around in circles and I often found myself indulging in “vain repetition.” Answers? No real connection there either. I saw that God answered my prayers sometimes, by the actions or words of others, but I longed for a direct connection. I desperately wanted to feel like I could hear the Lord answer my prayers personally. Not knowing what else to do, I just kept praying.
Over time, I stumbled upon a novel thought. For the most part, my prayer life wasn’t so much a conversation with God, as it was a monologue. I would kneel and pray, following the pattern I had been taught, finish with an “Amen,” get up and go about my business, wondering why I couldn’t hear the Lord’s voice. Perhaps, after I was done praying, I needed to wait and listen to give the Lord a chance to say something to me – really to give myself a chance to listen quietly and hear what He was saying! I began to practice this “listening” phase of my prayer and started to recognize thoughts coming into my mind; thoughts that were not my own and sometimes not even related to what I had prayed about! He was speaking to me! I was finally learning to “hear” the still, small voice.
Then I noticed a very disturbing thing. By the time several hours had passed, I could remember that the Lord had spoken to me, but I could not remember what He had said! To me that seemed like the height of disrespect! The great God of the Universe had spoken to ME and I couldn’t remember what He had said! So I started bringing a small notebook and a pen to the side of the couch where I prayed. As soon as I finished praying, I would write down what I heard.
Pretty soon I realized that it might be more useful to me to have His answers recorded if I also recorded the contents of my prayer. It seemed like the answers I recorded in my little book were out of context. So I decided to try writing my prayer. I wrote my prayer in one color, put down my pen, picked up His, listened, and recorded what I heard in a different color.
I discovered an amazing thing as I began this practice. It seems that I use a different part of my brain when I write than when I am thinking or saying my prayer. As I write my thoughts, they slow down and are not jumbled. They are more coherent and the act of writing them down helps me to process them in a very helpful and productive way. No more vain repetitions. No more wondering what I should pray for and about. My thoughts flow as I pour out my heart to my Heavenly Father on the page. I have been able to capture great words of comfort and direction in this prayer journal and go back and study it. When I do not have time to write, it almost feels like I have been cheated.
Elder Richard Scott has spoken on several occasions about the way in which he uses writing to receive personal revelation. There are links to some of those talks on my resources page. I have shared this tool of written prayer with many people over the years. Some people are not ready to invest the time it takes to do it in their relationship with the Lord. Those who have tried it have found new insights and a new and deeper relationship with God. Are you ready to invest your time? I could never put a price on the value of the return I have received on this investment.