P.R.A.Y. (Praise, Request, Admit, Yes!)

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Do you have trouble staying focused when praying?

I do, and that’s why I keep a prayer journal. It’s not very formal and doesn’t follow a set format. I use different structures on different days. This practice keeps me focused and guides me as I pray, thus leading to more effective prayer time.


P.R.A.Y. is one structure I use, and as you’ve probably guessed, P-R-A-Y is an anagram. Here’s a little description of what each letter stands for.

P is for Praise

Start each prayer by praising God for who He is. Sometimes I reword a Psalm of praise as a prayer to get this going. Psalm 25:8-15; 31:19-24; 33; and 34:15-22 all work because they point to God’s character and persistent love. Other times, singing or listening to a favorite praise song inspires a spirit of praise.

R is for Request

…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice. I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly

Psalm 5:3

God is faithful to His promises. He wants us to bring our concerns, hope, fear, and feelings to Him. He desires that fellowship. But He also wants us to grow as Christians. If we use Scripture to guide us, this part of prayer becomes more than seeking “yesses” to our requests.

No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Psalm 84:11

“Delight yourselves in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4

Two questions to consider as we present our requests to God:

  1. Is this the most loving thing I can pray?
  2. Will this help glorify God?

A is for Admit

We admit our sins to God and ask forgiveness. If you have trouble recalling transgressions, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them to you. God knows our sin already, but admitting them earns forgiveness and renews our spirit. Here’s a prayer to begin this section:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:22-23

Y is for Yes!

Listening is an important part of prayer. Sometimes I hear from God during dedicated prayer time, but mostly it occurs throughout the day during times my spirit is quiet. It might be when I’m doing a mundane chore like weeding. Or walking in the woods.  Or stirring up cornbread mix.

The Holy Spirit impresses thoughts on me such as: Send a sympathy card to Marlene. Share this resource with Linda. Invite my neighbor’s children to VBS. Arrange lunch with Susie. Consider this ministry opportunity.

When I capture these thoughts in the YES! section of my journal, I’m more likely to put them in action.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit

Galatians 5:25
A prayer journal keeps me focused and guides me as I pray, thus leading to more effective prayer time. #prayer #prayerjournaling Click To Tweet

additional resources

Several years ago, these two books helped shape my prayer journaling and improved my prayer life. Check them out if interested.

Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels

Let Prayer Change Your Life by Becky Tirabassi

And I like Ann Lamont’s book about three essential (and simple) prayers, Help, Thanks, Wow.

Another prayer structure I’ve written about that can be used with kids is The Five Finger Prayer.

Any other pray-ers who keep a prayer journal out there? Please share your tips or technique in the comments.

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  1. Loved this post, Candyce. I started keeping a prayer list on my phone but moved back to paper. It’s easier for me to update with new information. I print out requests from my church and put them in a binder, write out other requests in a separate journal, and put some on sticky notes! I gather them together when I pray. I guess I’m not very organized, but it works for me!

    1. Thanks for sharing Luann. Finding something that works for us is the key ingredient. My first prayer journal was on notebook paper in a binder with four dividers — way too organized.

  2. You’ve offered another good tool for prayer, Candyce. Thank you for explaining it so well. I especially like the Y for Yes. We get so fixated on our desire for a “yes” from God that we forget our responsibility to say “yes” to Him.

  3. A beautiful and simple way to think about prayer. I too use an electronic prayer list because I always have my phone with me so easy to add. Thanks

    1. I’m happy you recognized the simplicity in this – prayer doesn’t need to be complicated, does it? An electronic list is a great idea because we can readily access it. I’ve started a prayer request list in my Notes app.

      Thanks for commenting.

  4. I have never kept a prayer journal although many entries in my journal could be considered prayers. Recording our conversations with God and His responses can be such a faith builder when we look back at what he has done. We find that he hears us and that he is faithful.

    1. Thanks for sharing. Mine kinda started that way. I sometimes go back through older ones to see what I was praying about during certain periods. And sometimes I look for stuff I might use with something I’m currently writing. A decision I have to make is what to do with my crate full of them as I enter my third act.

    1. Mine gets pretty random sometimes, Marilyn. It’s ever evolving. You’re right – they are wonderful reminders of God’s faithfulness and they fuel our praise for Him.

  5. I love you acronym, Candyce. It helps us to stay focused and to pray unselfishly and according to God’s will. And it is easy to remember. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Thank you Barbara. It helps keep me in communion with God. When we expect to hear from Him, we hear from Him even more.


  6. Thank you Candyce! Your anagram is a gentle reminder to keep our prayers scriptural. The prompt to journal In response to God’s leading to reach out to others is a great way to stay accountable. Lots of takeaways!
    Lisa Robbins

    1. Lisa,
      It’s great to hear from you here. I haven’t thought of the accountability aspect of the yes section. That motivates me to listen more than ever for the small still voice of God. Thank you for that insight.

  7. I struggle to stay faithful to my prayer journal, I read in His word daily, but often neglect my journal, Candyce, but your message inspires me to keep trying. Pray. Request. Admit. Yes. is a wonderful strategy to help me remember. I usually do most of my prayer time with God as I walk in nature, but He’s been nudging me that isn’t enough. Thank you for this inspiring and encouraging post.

    1. Katherine, I don’t write in mine every day but find that I miss it when I skip a few days. I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s habit. And I find it a worthwhile habit.

      If you start one, please let me know how it goes!

  8. An electronic list is wonderful because we almost always have our phone with us. I don’t carry my journal around and sometimes wish I did. The answered prayers tab is a great idea – for the reason you mentioned – so we see how faithful God is. I like to jot down dates and think about the ways God answers too. Sometimes He says no which is also an answer

  9. Some great thoughts there Ms. Candyce. I don’t keep a journal, but do maintain an electronic Daily Prayer List. I do pretty good remembering yet, but know there’ll come a time when I don’t. Am considering using another tab/worksheet to move “Answered Prayers” to so I don’t forget how faithful God is.

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