Do you want to pray more faithfully and consistently, but you don’t know where to begin? Sometimes prayer to God feels so effortless and beautiful, and sometimes you wonder if anyone is even listening or if it’s even worth the effort! I’ve really felt my lack of discipline in the area of prayer in the last few months, and I’m ready to make a change. One of the strategies I am implementing is the use of a war binder (also called a prayer journal or a faith journal), and as I set mine up, I thought I’d share what I’m learning with you.
A War Binder (also known as a prayer or faith journal) is a notebook used to record prayer requests and praises that you want to bring to God on a daily basis. This notebook can contain encouraging Bible verses, prayer requests, and uplifting reminders of God’s goodness to His people.
Setting up a War Binder doesn’t have to be difficult, and this notebook helps to keep you engaged and active in your daily prayers. Let’s dive in! (P.S., if you’d rather watch a video about the process instead of reading the post, head to my YouTube page here or scroll down to the bottom of the post.
Why is it called a War Binder?
To begin with, let’s be clear why we call it a war binder.
Ephesians 6:10 – 13 tells us
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (ESV)
Yes, we are at war, today and everyday, but we are not fighting with other people (despite all that you may see on Twitter!). No, our war is with the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”. The Bible tells us that the devil is our enemy, and he “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8 ESV)
We are on alert, and we not only stand firm against evil, we fight it (literally wrestle, struggle, contend with).
Like soldiers getting ready for battle, we put on every piece of the armor that God gives us:
- the belt of truth,
- the breastplate of righteousness,
- shoes made with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace,
- the shield of faith,
- the helmet of salvation, and
- the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).
Most of our pieces are defensive: this is not surprising, as we are called to stand firm here in Ephesians 6.
But in 2 Corinthians 10, the Apostle Paul calls for an offensive attack: “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Our war, our fight, is against any stronghold or argument that would put itself over the truth and knowledge of God.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” -2 Timothy 1:7, NIV
We have power, love, and self-discipline given to us by God’s Spirit.
Sister, You are strong in the Lord!
One more verse to encourage you from Hebrews 10:39:
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
We will not shrink back from doing what God calls us to do and loving who He calls us to love.
OK, now we’re fired up, ready to fight for God’s truth, ask for His help, and be a force for good in the world!
This is why a War Binder is so important. It’s easy to act based on our emotions. If we’re excited and energized, we walk out ready to do God’s will. If we’ve been knocked back by the wickedness in this world (either our own or someone else’s), we may just want to throw in the towel. A War Binder helps us to reset every day; this little notebook you assemble can be a safe place of encouragement to remind you that you are called by God to live a life of radical love, even when times get tough. We need to take time daily to remember what our mission is, and who our Father is. Daily time spent with your War Binder can be a great help in this fight to stay centered and focused.
OK, great! So…
How to Set Up Your War Binder:
Divide Your War Binder into six sections:
- Prayer Requests: These are situations and people that are important to you. Writing down these prayer requests and referring back to them as you pray helps in two ways:
- To remember (how many times have you told someone you would pray for them and then totally forgot! Make a reminder on your phone and transfer it to your war binder when you’re back at home.
- To see how God moves (it’s such a comfort to look back on things you prayed for and see how God has answered. We can always trust Him to hear and answer our prayers (see I John 5:14-15).
- God’s Promises/Scripture Writing Plan: What a great gift God’s Word is! Copying down key Bible Verses is an invaluable way to impress upon your mind and heart the truth that helps keep you close to God.
- You can simply copy down verses that help you or you can verse map to really go deeper in your Bible study. I made a tutorial if you’d like to explore verse mapping further. Shannon at Sweet Blessings puts out a monthly Scripture Writing plan that’s topical and easy to follow; that’s another great resource to use.
- If there’s an area in your life that’s really a battle for you, try writing down verses related to that specific topic (such as worry, depression, greediness, selfishness, addiction, etc). That is really taking the battle to the worst parts of your life! It is so worth doing.
- Sermon/Bible Study Notes: I am the world’s worst about writing my sermon notes in the weekly church bulletin and then tossing it in the trash! One of the reasons I want to keep a War Binder is to have a central location for all of my sermon and Bible study notes. It’s also great for transferring a few key notes to the margins of my Bible. Isn’t it fun to flip to a Scripture passage and then find a note written from another study? It’s like a little gift from your past self to your current self!
- If you’re participating in a Bible study that comes with a workbook, answer the questions in your War Binder instead of your workbook.
- Praise and Thanksgiving: All too often, we focus on all of the bad things in our life and in this world. It takes a real mental effort to recenter our brains and look for the good. Jesus shows up in our lives in a million little ways every day, and it’s so easy to take his good providence for granted!
- In his book Spiritual Depression (Amazon Affiliate link), Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones talks about “talking to yourself”. And often, we really do need to give ourselves a good talking-to! We must take ourselves in hand and say, “Look, this is who you are in Christ, let me tell you about the good God who loves you, let me remind you of the work you are called to do day in and day out to love your God and your neighbor!”
- This section of your War Binder is where you store all of this goodness, to remind yourself of how grateful you are and how worthy of praise God is. It’s so helpful to have this all written down when you are really struggling.
- Scripture Memory Plan: The Bible is full of verses exhorting us to hide God’s Word in our hearts! One critical step in doing this is to set aside a daily time for memorizing the Bible. I know, it’s hard! It’s definitely hard for me too, but it is so worth doing. This post I wrote has some resources for beginning to memorize Scripture. One of the easiest ways to do this is to listen to verses set to music. Many of these songs are geared toward kids; kids definitely benefit from memorizing Scripture, but so do adults! And we all know that songs stick in our heads a lot longer than just spoken words. So poke around on the internet and see if you can find some you like. Our family has listened to Seeds Family Worship (see them here on Spotify), so start there. You can also try replacing the lyrics of your current favorite song with Bible verses. Crazy, I know, but give it a try!
- Journal/Free Space: Leave yourself some space for thoughts and writings that may not fit neatly into other categories. It’s always nice to have a little extra space in your back for whatever random thought you have that may need capturing.
Making your War Binder a Habit:
AAAAGH, this is the hardest part! New beginnings are always fun and exciting. Maybe you get some fun stickers and some washi tape and colored markers and you’re all ready to go and then…
…Nothing. Kaput. Nada.
Your fancy new War Binder sits forlorn and unnoticed for a few days, and then a week, and now the very thing that was supposed to help you has become a source of guilt and anxiety for you!
Well, don’t beat yourself up about it. We all struggle to be consistent in good daily practices, but here’s a few quick tips to help you make your War Binder an indispensable part of your everyday life:
- Put it first. Wake up, grab your favorite morning beverage, and pull out your Bible and your War Binder.
- Read your Bible and write down the verses that you connect with in your War Binder.
- If you read a devotional book, read that and again write down any ideas that really grab you.
- Review your prayer requests and write down any new ones. Jot down any progress or answers so far.
- Take 5 minutes to memorize a verse of your choosing.
- Take it with you to church or Bible study. Use the Sermon Notes section to record any helpful ideas from the sermon; same for Bible study.
- Put it last. At the end of the day, take a few minutes to write down all that you are thankful for and all the ways you saw God work that day. The more this practice becomes part of your mental workflow, the more you will see the ways in which God shows up. I highly encourage you to make this a part of your daily routine and see how it changes you. Take a few moments to pray and reflect before heading off to bed.
Resources and Inspiration for Your War Binder:
- Search Pinterest for all sorts of different ways to use and expand your War Binder!
- Check out this Facebook Group for ideas and inspiration.
- If you’re an Instagrammer, follow the hashtag #warbinder and/or #faithjournal. Just pinky-promise me that you will only be inspired, not overwhelmed or sad because your War Binder isn’t as beautiful/neat/organized/amazing/whatever as what you see. This is a working document, friend, not a beauty pageant.
- Go rogue and incorporate the sections of a War Binder into your daily planner or bullet journal. I personally do better with keeping it separate, but if you are an all-in-one kinda gal, go for it! I’d love to hear what you think!
- Below is a video I made to walk you through the process laid out in this blog post!
I hope this helps and I’d love to hear from you! Do you have any other tips or tricks to help you stay consistent in your prayer and devotional life? Let me know in the comments!