Updated: Jan 22
How I Got Started
Several years ago, I was introduced to visual faith practices by Connie Denninger. At first I was overwhelmed — while fascinated by the process, I am not an artist and felt it was way past my comfort level. But as I listened and watched, I was drawn to the practice of gratitude and prayer journals.
In a gratitude and prayer journal, there is one page to document a gratitude for each day and, on the opposite page, an image with spaces for writing in names and concerns to keep in your prayers.
For each month, a page to record one gratitude each day and an open image to record prayers - a visual reminder to continue to pray and to live in gratitude.
Often people would ask me to pray for them, but many times I would get busy or forget. The prayer journal page creates a convenient place to write down their names. Now I’m able to see all the people I promised to pray for and have a quiet, dedicated time to remember to pray and lift them up to God. As I pray and color, I am also drawn away from distractions. The picture and movement of my hands helps bring focus and clear purpose to my prayer time.
There has been much research recently on the benefits of counting gifts or gratitudes. We live in a world that doesn’t talk about “who we are thankful to”, rather just that we need to be thankful. As Christians, we do know Who deserves our thanks. All that we have comes from our Heavenly Father who has blessed us in so many ways. All too often, we take those blessings for granted, finding it easy to come to God with our pain and hurts while forgetting to thank Him for His many gifts.
Looking for gifts from God each day has been rewarding! Even on my most difficult days, I find reasons to express thanks to God. The practice of noticing a blessing and writing it down, keeps my focus on gratitude. It can be as simple as a delicious dinner, a child’s laugh, or a beautiful sunset; it can also be bigger things - a cancer in remission, safety from a dangerous situation, and so on. Whether big or small, recognizing the gifts God gives to us is a helpful, joy-producing process.
How My Gratitude and Prayer Journal Became a “Gift of Joy”
Did I even expect this practice to turn into a wonderful “Gift of Joy”?
Bev’s sister, Billie, who is now living with Jesus
I had no idea what the result of this practice would be, but I now have a written record - memories of the generosity of my God, memories of my time in prayer, and memories of how God has been an intricate part of so many important times and activities in my life.
When God led me to this practice, little did I know what it would mean to me down the road. The year I began this practice was when my sister was dying of cancer. I now have a record of the last weeks I spent with her, the talks we had, the people who helped, the prayers I prayed; it is a living memory of that time.
I have memories of the gift of grandchildren - big and little events in their lives. I have memories of people prayed for: prayers answered the way I had hoped as well as prayers in which God had a different answer, but always the assurance that He will get us through and the proof that he does, time and time again. So yes, this has become a “Gift of Joy” for me to look back on those memories now. And I hope it will become a “Gift of Joy” for future generations - that my children, grandchildren, or even great grandchildren will see these journals in years to come and understand that thankfulness and prayer were such an important part of my life.
And always give yourself grace! I’ll admit that the last year or so I have gotten away from this practice. Now, looking back at all these pages, I’m excited to restart this process again.
Sometimes we take a break from our visual faith practices or try something else for awhile …… and sometimes God just calls us back.
My Gratitude and Prayer Journal has become a “Gift of Joy” for remembering now and in the future
I invite you to join me on this journey of counting gifts and purposeful prayer. You, too, can create a “Gift of Joy” that may last a lifetime and beyond.
Bev is a pastor’s wife and mother of three grown boys, living in the Buffalo, NY area. Since being introduced to Visual Faith she has embraced it as a way to better connect to God’s word and enhance her prayer life. Bev is always wanting to share Visual Faith™ practices with anyone who will listen. What is especially meaningful for Bev is that each visual faith activity she does creates a memory for the future. She has shared with Lutheran Women’s Missionary League groups as well as pastor’s wives and is always willing to be contacted to help with a workshop or retreat. Bev is experienced with gratitude/visual prayer journals, prayer cards, Lent and Advent Visual Prayer and Bible Journaling. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.