Digital Prayer Journal using Contacts

This is another one of those systems that has grown with me over the years.

Years ago, I began simply keeping a list of prayer requests in Reminders.app and glancing at it periodically before praying.

Some time later I was feeling a bit despondent. I felt the weight of the endless list of prayer requests, and lamented that I felt no answers… then I pressed the "show completed tasks". I teared up as I scrolled through years of requests that I had checked off because they were answered. I was greatly encouraged… and kept the habit.

Some time later, I stopped using facebook. Without the universal spying CRM of facebook I had no way to keep track of who is related to whom, when were birthdays coming up, all that sort of thing. I started to diligently update my Google contacts database. This let me remember family birthdays, which of my friends was studying data science, where people work, etc.1

For the past two years I've combined both the prayer list and personal CRM in my contacts. This has grown into an evolving practice that brings me a lot of joy and purpose.

What now?

Recording

When I'm talking to someone 1:1 I'll either write in my journal (if appropriate) or afterward make a quick note in Drafts of the form:

Person's name

- bullet points
- about what we talked about
- prayer: thinking about parenting and the future

At the end of the day as I'm cleaning my Drafts inbox I run a venerable Drafts shortcut to send the update to Cardhop2. Cardhop's default makes it easy to find things like "who did I talk to recently that is studying bioinformatics?" or "What was her maiden name?" I have a pretty good habit of recording those "things that I'd like to remember later," which is by far the hardest part of this.

Remembering

I don't yet have a solid system for paging through requests. Cardhop does have a "recently updated" page that makes it easy to see people I've talked to recently, but for a while I've been just doing a lightweight memory trick: I associate some prayer requests with common things in my life:

  • tying my barefoot shoes reminds me to pray for my pastor friend who also likes barefoot shoes.
  • woodworking tools reminds me to pray for a friend who enjoys woodworking
  • using my Obsidian bible reminds me to pray for a friend who got me into using that tool

This habit helps my memory and keeps me praying nearly the whole day.

Celebrating

Since I journal and digitally log important conversations, it's pretty easy to cruise through my 13 weekly summary pages and yank out all the answers to prayer on a quarterly basis… which can then get pushed up to a yearly page. God is not a magic machine that responds to hours spent on knees, but seeing that he has a plan and seeing his goodness is a great encouragement whenever I look through such a list.

This practice can look different for everyone. Index cards, a bullet journal... it doesn't matter. The practice trains our minds to reach to prayer first and tunes our hearts to recognize God's power in our daily lives.


  1. Stephen Wolfram has a really exaggerated and 40-year old version of this I blogged about earlier. I'd like to move my contacts off of Google Contacts to something more stable… I don't know what that looks like yet. I wish I could track my contacts in git and use plain text… and still have access to it on my phone… hmm. 

  2. Cardhop is great… but I'm syncing with Google Contacts, and I feel like something sometimes gets lost in migration/translation. I know I lose content sometimes, and my system keeps forgetting birthdays and anniversaries. A friend just jogged my memory about Monica HQ, I'm going to see if I can get that setup on my home server. 


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